Warning! This will be a VO rates rant, something I don’t do much of but, as one the Voiceover industry’s foremost rates experts, I feel compelled to do so.
More and more, we’ve seen Commercial VO rates plummet. The thought is that they’ve hit the bottom of the well, but just when we think that worse rates come.
We continually see the neglect and abuse of talent and their value from the very people who are supposed to be in our corner and fighting for us – agents and casting directors.
Let’s be clear, this doesn’t apply universally, but in the past couple of years, we all check castings to see how bad the rate is going to be. It’s disheartening, especially when it feels like certain casting companies have doubled down in this regard.
Frankly, I’m sick and tired of seeing insulting rates being offered so multi-billion-dollar corporations can use our talent to make millions of dollars.
I know, “then just don’t audition”. Well, that’s not the answer nor should it be suggested. The fact that the answer to trying to combat abusive rates and hold people’s feet to the fire is to ignore the issue and pretend it doesn’t exist, is aggravating. We saw how that worked this year…
This is why non-union Commercial VO is dying and why I don’t audition as much anymore. Is it really worth the time and effort just to support atrocious rates (more and more of in-perpituity), giving clients permission to continue the abuse? Talent have NO voice in this fight, and we rely on our agents and casting directors to hold up fair rates for our industry, and they’re failing us. Sending out jobs that come with abusive rates just supports those rates from continuing.
I understand these parties have difficult jobs and are in difficult positions balancing talent and clients, but at what long-term cost? As business owners, voice talent are taught to stand up for their value, learn to say no, and respect the craft. So why are we the only one’s doing so?
“Why don’t you just join the Union?”. If that were a realistic option for the overwhelming majority of voice actors, who are non-union, then sure. But it’s not. At least 80% of VO work is non-union and for many, joining the union doesn’t make sense for their business. And what if we all did? There wouldn’t be enough work to support us.
So, what’s the solution? Stand up, say no, tell your agents, tell casting directors, you refuse to audition for jobs that have predatory rates. If enough people stand up to this, changes will have to be made. We are THE BEST IN THE WORLD, and we should be paid fairly. Don’t be desperate to work, the work will come. Value your talent and worth more than the opportunity to work. Market your business, find your way into non-broadcast work where the money is good, and you can control your destiny. If the reasoning is “it’s an effect of supply and demand”, demand they find their supply somewhere else.
I know I may get some flak for writing this, but I don’t really care at this point. I want to work with people in this industry that stand with talent and support our right to fair rates. This may be an oversimplification, but from the talent perspective, this is what we see. I’ve offered to host a panel at VO ATL bringing in all parties; agents, casting directors, buyers, etc so talent can understand the factors that are going into budgets and why they keep going down but was rejected, twice.
I use this analogy all the time: If Coca-Cola didn’t know their cost for aluminum, they would be in trouble. We deserve to understand the reasons why our livelihood gets determined by people trying to make more profit and reduce costs to get bonuses.
This isn’t just about money. This is about respect, talent value, and the future of Commercial VO for voice talent.
Thanks for coming to my TedTalk