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Setting Your Rates & Negotiating:
The 'Secrets Of An Agent Man' ...

By Roger King
Voice Talent Agent
As more and more voice talents work for themselves, with or without representation, the skill of setting rates - and more importantly, sticking to them - is almost as integral to the business as the voice itself.
As a voice talent agent, I should have some thoughts to contribute in this area. What follows is the Voice Over Canada rules for rate structure and negotiation.
Note: I encourage all producers who hire voice talents from my agencies, PN Agency and Ethnic Voice Talent, to stop reading now. It’ll just get boring for you. Nothing to read here. Move along.
1) Do not be afraid.
If you have a price in mind, stick to it. The worst that can happen is the client says "no," and you end up slightly malnourished that month. But at least you still have your soul!
2) What are the specs?
Never give your price until you get at least have some idea of the specifics of the project.
Ideally, get them to quote first, so you can either attempt to find a middle ground or at the very least, laugh uproariously.
Or maybe they are completely on the same wavelength as you with regards to a fair price.
3) Don't rush it.
Seriously, wait as long as possible to name your price. You’re always after INFORMATION.
4) Quote for the current job.
Never quote based on the phrase, “There is going to be a lot more work after this one.”
5) Give it away?
Low budget stuff is low budget for a reason - because it’s crap! Unless it’s charity of course :)-
6) Beware sloppy ...
If there are typos in the first client email inquiry and/or general sloppiness, you can almost always expect that same approach all the way through the project.
Example: The phrase, “Oh we forgot 4 pages of the script” after you’ve already submitted the finished audio with your invoice.
7) Be nice.
People always want to work with someone they like. So if at all possible, stay friendly, with a sense of humor, even if it’s a “tense negotiation.”
8) Tell it like it is.
The client is NOT always right. If someone isn’t following the general rules of “being a decent human being,” there is no reason why you can’t tactfully point this out to them.
9) Price professionally.
You’re a professional. Price yourself accordingly. Take yourself and your work seriously.
10) Lighten up.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. You’re a voice talent - not performing brain surgery or working for Doctors Without Borders.
If I’m wrong about this, I tip my hat to you!
Roger King is the president of Peformance Network (PN) Agency, which provides voice-over talent to the radio, television, film, multi-media and animation industries. In 2004, he launched a sister agency, Ethnic Voice Talent (EVT), and now represents over 100 voice over talents and translators in more than 15 different languages.

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Comments (3)
dc goode
6/30/2010 at 7:10 PM
Well put, Roger. Now let's everyone agree to play by these rules, OK?
Debbie Irwin
6/29/2010 at 12:46 PM
I love the tips, tone and overall tenor of this piece. Thanks for sharing!
BP Smyth, Narrator
6/29/2010 at 10:05 AM
Amen, Roger.
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