· voiceover,fair rates,pricing guide

Say NO to low ball projects!

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(In May 2016 the number of low balling voiceover proposals from p2p clients in my inbox led me to publish this article on the issue. Here's an update.)

-by J.E. Burton

Since my previous post on this subject, more of the same woes on the topic have sped the growth of uninformed self-enabling voiceover dalliants. The pandemic, its resulting isolation restrictions, and increasing worker dissatisfaction have resulted in work-from-home situations not just for government and company employees, but more self-employed, too.

Some of those have decided to start voiceover. And while this work-from-home voiceover profile pattern first came to my attention in 2014 among LinkedIn users, it's increased to where every fourth person I see with a USB mic and a dream there now offers their voiceover services.

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While this trend isn't in itself negative, the proliferation of social media and pay-to-plays from 2009 to 2019 have enabled a sense of entitlement in the uninitiated to "give voiceover a try" - where buying a USB mic and a premium membership with a online P2P brands you a voiceover artist!

That's the equivalent of buying your university degree without doing the homework!

Graphic "PatLabor" courtesy of Sunrise Entertainment. All rights reserved.

This ignorance of dabbler VO industry need-to-know -along with the willful exploitation of a few dishonest clients and ignorance of the few honest clients - drives the low-ball/undervalue mentality into this industry.

In the years (2008-2020) since I'd started voiceover as a part-timer, a fair rate baseline has been needed that honors the talent's time and effort. Thank GVAA for that. Those years have seen a fair share of undervaluing work, that led me to write this 2016 LinkedIn article, "Say NO to Undervaluing VO Work!"

Recently Paul Schmidt - a voiceover veteran of 24 years -wrote and spoke about this many times on his channel, including in this video. His attention to this inspired me to comment further on the state of voiceover underquoting, and what needs to change on the state of undervaluing work. I offer my take on what to do about it amidst an economic slump.

It's crucial that we know the worth of our efforts in anything we do. Many of you- like I- come from non-broadcast backgrounds. Some of you have worked in the industry pre-Y2K, and a few of you have no interest in pursuing a career in voiceover.

Yet, at our core, we all agree to want fair pay for our effort and time. Switching to a new industry makes awareness of a pay scale reference vital to knowing what we're worth.

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Knowing the fair rate in your efforts - if you have trained with vetted working professionals before working professionally yourself- depends on three factors.

I. Market Tier

Local, regional, National, global all pay different rates.

I recommend consulting the GVAA rate guide and factoring your production time when quoting rates.

II. Category

Commercial, Corporate Narration, Promo, etc. have differing content types and corresponding rates.

III. Usage and Duration

An extra fee payable to talent applies for sometimes for periodic - not 'in perpetuity' - buyouts.

The GVAA in the US and Gravy for the Brain have set up a fair rate guideline to aid voiceover artists in determining a fair rate for some world countries. These reflect several factors in effect - like the independent voiceover entity's (we the vo artists) costs against the studio's costs, industry expertise, efficiency of turnover: dispatch time, communication efficiency and level of the client's internal project baselines.

Commitment to using the GVAA and GVAA guidelines when quoting own rates helps protect your own livelihood, supports our voiceover community, and upholds our level of professionalism. So, when we receive low ball offers, by adding notes to p2p moderators, and declining the auditions, we say "NO" in acknowledgement to our worth. Saying NO to those low paying clients frees us to say YES to those fair paying ones. Thank you for reading. Share your experiences and sound off owith your thoughts below.

J.E. Burton is a full-time professional auditioner who specializes in children's narration, accented case studies, and medical narration. In spare time, he enjoys documentaries and biographies. Listen to his demos here, book a one-time FREE audition, or book a session.

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