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A Lot For A Little?
Used by permission from aitoff via Pixabay
In early 2022, I started noticing a bizarre trend. I am not talking about Tom Hanks being cast in everything whether he is an accent-less elderly Italian clockmaker or not.
No: the online voiceover marketplaces were starting to offer stranger offerings. I am not kidding. The other day I saw a casting notice to perform as a Flaming Caribbean Winnebago singing Tina Turner hits whilst dressed in a battle thong, and the payment would be made in genuine Muppet skins.
Now, I am a generous man. I love to give. Giving is my love language. So if I ever give you something, it means that I love you. And that you should love me. Why don't you love me? And why do you never call me? You know, I give, and I give, and I give. And you are all about take take take as you go gallivanting off with your friends and leave me here alone by myself to care for our babies.
See, love is a crazy thing, and I am a crazy man when it comes to giving. Just ask my wife or kids during Christmastime. When it comes to the ol’ green and red, I do not want to see any carpet under our tree. I want there to be a veritable mountain of presents under there, and I genuinely do not care if a single one of those is mine. I love to shower Christmas gifts upon my family, and it is one of the most delightful times of my year. That, and the day my children go back to school so that I may at last be rid of them and binge-watch Cobra Kai and eat Funyuns. Delightful.
Equally delightful is the credit card bill I receive from Amazon’s Synchrony Bank after Christmas.
But being a crazy giver can have its downsides. Sometimes I tend to OVER-give. Indeed, my cousin calls me “Captain Mirth-Spreader” because he spent one Christmas with me in our young adulthood, and subsequently became the target of my affection that yule. I have since graduated to Admiral Mirth-Spreader. I hope one day to attain the rank of Fleet Admiral High Commandant Mirth-Spreader Overlord, but I have not filled out the application yet.
Secondly, I have given to street corner beggars and seen them run right out and abuse said gift, a la "Here is some money for McDonald's since that is precisely what you asked me for" only to see them emerging five minutes later from Safeway with a 6-pack of Coors. Because of that, I am no longer one to walk up to any stranger on the street and hand over all of my debit cards. Firstly, it would be an absolutely heinous and cruel stunt to pull because I no longer have money (see prior reference to my having children). Secondly, if I did have any money, then giving them everything I have on a silver platter (note to self: buy a silver platter to give them) would be entirely unreasonable, because there should always be a reasonable cost associated with every acquisition.
It is the same with voiceovers. Lately, people seem to want the entire world on a silver platter. I am generous, but this mirth-spreading Overlord has to draw the line somewhere.
Going To Hand In a HellBasket
Used by permission from jamelah via Creative Commons
As an example, take a client on Voice123 whom we shall call “CD”. They are a customer I frequently encounter offering the following clauses for a measly $700 payout:
We are requesting a full buyout in perpetuity (i.e. our release states we can use the recording in any way or format needed for unlimited time and needs to be signed before the recording). However, this video will NOT be used in paid media or broadcast. It is for internal use for Media Center/Youtube purposes.
OH! OK…no worries then. In that case, since you have so completely reassured me that you are not going to be using this in paid media or broadcast, I guess it will be alright with me that I renounce all rights forever, for only $700. And I should just trust that you will stop the usage right there.
But there is a problem: I don't even trust my dog that much. There is a HUGE problem with this: you can use them in paid media or broadcast, and since I have just signed your release - which I am pretty sure has innocuous clauses in Font 3 demanding my firstborn child, my dog, my left ear, a kidney – I have effectively given you carte blanche approval on abusing me to your heart’s content. OK, Rumpelstiltskin.
Welp, if you are going to only use your project for internal use and YouTube, then do not make me sign a contract that says that you can use it for more than that.
You cannot have a Porsche for the price of a Pinto.
Voices dot com is notorious, especially of late, for posting such ridiculous jobs under the auspices of "Video Narration." Video Narration??? Isn't that, like, ALL voiceovers?!?!? And I am frequently seeing such asininely-budgeted projects as the following:
$1500. National TV in perpetuity. National radio ad in perpetuity. Worldwide online ad in perpetuity. $1500. To say nothing of the fact that these jobs are usually exclusivity-based, meaning if you did take it, you would not be able to voice for another resort - forever. $1500.
All of these clients know they are asking for the unreasonable. Garmin on Voice123 also frequently posts excessive usage non-commensurate with a paltry budget.
Here is the thing. Go into any Burger King:
- A small fountain drink costs $1.79.
- A medium costs $2.09.
- A large costs $2.39.
- I am requesting more, therefore I pay more.
Or consider the Nissan Rogue I just purchased:
- I could have ordered an S trim for $25,650 MSRP.
- Or the SV trim for $27,340.
- But I ordered the SL trim for $32,000, and I added on a premium sound system, interior accent lights, fog lights, wireless Apple CarPlay, and an optional Llama adoption program that comes with weekly food rations and a pooper-scooper.
- I only had to pay $78,950!
Or take the massage I just scheduled. (YES, I, a man, do go in for the occasional massage…please do not tell anyone; I wish to keep this practice a secret, so I am only posting it here in the privacy of the internet. Next week I promise to update you on my recent pedicure where they allowed me to play “Man I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain.)
- I could have gotten a regular massage for $49.95
- I opted for the hot stone massage because I enjoy receiving torture. You can be tortured for only $69.95!
Or consider the oil change I just received at Jiffy Lube. Although, to be honest, they should change their name, however, as “Jiffy” does not quite describe my recent wait. I went in in April for my oil change and I am still here. Nonetheless, I could choose:
- conventional oil for cheap
- synthetic blend for a bit more, or
- full synthetic oil for the maximum price.
Or the airfare I paid for VO Atlanta this past March: I wanted to fly first class because I was feeling particularly snooty, and I did not wish to be associated with the steerage behind me. As such, I paid a higher price tag for the flight because I enjoy the scorn and stares of disdain I received as I got to board the flight first and have all the measly peons shuffle back past me as I furiously conducted business deals on my MacBook and threw back Dom Perignon and caviar.
Again, I am a spreader of mirth and I love to give (except in First Class), but this ramped-up, scaled-down more-for-less commoditization by some clients is wearing on me. I feel like Q*Bert with the exclamation over his head. What The @!#?@! Is Going On?
If you expect more, you need to pay more. It is really that simple. Here, have a llama.
Take a Bleeping Stand
Used by permission from anyjazz65 via Creative Commons
Am I talking to customers with this blog? No. Customers are always searching for the better deal, myself included. They will not change. But we voice talent can change. We can toe the line, uphold market rates, and not sellout.
I have, of late, reported and flagged more jobs than I can count on Voice123. On principle, I am probably one of their worst voice talent because I continuously shoot down these asinine jobs that these unreasonable nincompoops just keep posting. On principle, I cannot stop doing it because it is like crack cocaine, really. Not that I know what crack cocaine is or does! Here, have a llama.
Don’t feel like taking the time to report these outlandish-usage-for-subpar-pay jobs to Voice123, or Voices, or VOPlanet? Fine. Then do this:
- Learn to walk away. $700 for a full buyout is a ridiculous insult. $1500 for everything, everywhere, for all time, is a laughingstock.
- Take a bleeping stand. Stand with all voice talent who deserve fair market rates, from those who have been doing this for 30 years as well as those who have been doing this for 30 minutes. We all need to toe the line.
- Know your worth. As the saying goes, “Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.” Know your value as a voice talent. Reference the GVAA Rate Guide to know what you should be charging.
Again, I am a giver. But I can’t give you my Rogue for five hundred dollars. Not even five thousand. Not even twenty-five thousand. At least not at present. The fair market value of it demands that you pay what its worth.
When I was a wedding videographer, clients would constantly whittle down my $1400 "Silver" package to $900 just so they could save some money. So, I would drop them down to the lower tiered “Bronze” package. But somehow they would still expect the same bells and whistles of the higher “Silver" package. And inevitably, if I didn’t deliver said bells and whistles, they would run straight to Yelp. It became a cruel, narcissistic undervaluing of my craft, and so I vacated that industry faster than a maggot frying in hot grease.
Will I eventually leave voiceovers? No. It is far too lucrative and enjoyable, and there is no hot grease. Also to my knowledge I am not a maggot. Instead, I will continue to stand my ground, which means of course that I will not film any voiceover weddings.
Will you stand your ground?
PS, here. Have a llama.
Used by permission from manfredrichter via Pixabay.
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