Warning! I am a satirist! If you do not have a sense of humor or are easily-offended, these blogs may not be for you. May I interest you in an innocuous episode of Peppa Pig instead?
Getting Hung Up On Principle
There are things in life that just make you want to hurl.
- Michael Bolton music
- Michael Bolton pictures
- Michael Bolton pictures set to music
- Anything with Michael Bolton included in it in any form whatsoever, in any way... ever
But these things are not what this particular blog is about.
By now, you have heard me rant about low-paying jobs and frustrating bargain-basement casting calls. You have wallowed and groveled with me as we have together lamented the downward plunge of fair market rates. We have shed tears together as we have, in solemn unity and faithful solidarity, watched the gentle erosion of the industry pay-scale. And then you have moved on and continued to work, forgetting this whole silly hullabaloo, and resolving to work anyway.
While I have stayed here:
- Shedding tears
…do you mean to say that you have emotionally resolved to shrug your shoulders and move on and accept that which must be, chanting a solemn “Que será, será”?
If you have spent any length of time in voiceovers and knocked heads with any one of a number of established voice talent, you will undoubtedly have had conversations about the insane insipid insidiousness of some jobs out there. I have written various blogs about this, entitled, insultingly:
- What The @!#[email protected]! Is Going On With Rates?
- Full Buyout In Perpetuity For $200? Sure Thing, Pal….
- So You Wanna Be A Voice Actor, Eh? (Part 2)
- Pssst! Hey, Sellout! Yeah, You! Over Here!
- Hey, A Voice Talent’s Gotta Eat…
- I’ll Give You Free Voiceover Work!
- How To Become A Voiceover Gajillionaire
These blogs of mine – which are blessed by God and which you should frankly read right away for your very salvation – are intended to shed light on the fact that something nefarious is going on, and we had best start toeing the line. There is a subtle undercurrent of sinister undercutting.
I am not alone in my musings. Paul Strikwerda frequently blogs about this issue and standing for fair rates. Paul Schmidt does the same. Paul Stefano also does this. As does every other ethical voice talent named Paul, I assume. Naturally, since my name is Josh and I like to buck the system, I will now pretend my name is Paul just so I can fit in. So for this blog, please refer to me as Joshua Paulexander. The 2nd. Esquire. Alternatively, please feel freedom to address me as “His Royal Blogness”. I will not protest.
The point being, this is a point we all cannot move on from.
Take A Stand
It is high time to take a stand in voiceovers for fair rates, if you have not done so already. Rates are eroding. I am seeing more and more casting notices specify the following delightfully eye-rolling lingo which makes me want to harm small animals:
- Full buyout
- Buyout in perpetuity
- Full buyout in perpetuity
- "Full Buyout in Perpetuity with Unlimited Unrestricted Use In All Media Throughout The Known Universe Until The End Of Time."
- Full buyout in perpetuity with a side of fries
- Complete worldwide buyout in perpetuity with cherries on top
- Full and complete worldwide buyout in all forms of media served on a rice pilaf with lobster, whilst being licked by kittens and served a steaming pint of unicorn liquor.
I don't think so, O Cunning and Calculating Conniver.
As a wise man once said, “You cannot have a Porsche for the price of a Pinto. No. You will be getting a Pinto for the price of a Pinto. You cannot have a mansion for the price of a newspaper on a park bench. It simply does not work that way.”
Whoever said that is very, very wise. I am talking extraordinarily wise. By the way, I said it.
Ozzy Osbourne once sang, “they’re goin’ off the rails on a crazy train.” These people want everything for nothing. They are Rumpelstiltskin through and through, just...without the Hervé Villechaize accent. We should not have to open up a casting notice and ask "What fresh hell is this?"
Here is what I still say when I see a job with outlandish usage (after various four-letter colorful metaphors muttered under my breath and permeating all of the recordings that I shall leave behind for my children to remember my profanity by):
Hi! Your stated budget is WAY too low & really unrealistic for your stated usage. Please see the GVAA Rate Guide (gvaarateguide.com) for fair market rates you should be paying for this. Email [email protected] for professional voiceovers with the highest level of quality & turnaround.
But is this whole taking-a-stand practice more than a little draining? Exhausting? Frustrating? And is it even sustainable?
Taking a stand is critical, and on every level. You see, I have been cursed with the knowledge of what is fair pay, and I will continue to stand with this curse.
Ten Steps Forward, One Step Back
This year, will I generate the same amount of revenue or more than I did in 2021? Probably not. It has definitely been a slower year overall Is part of my lower revenue due to my declining low-paying jobs? Partly, sure. I declined a $3000 job this year that was booked, and they were going to use it well beyond the scope of what was posted in the casting notice. Do I feel bad about losing out on this?
Not one bit, and I mean that with every fiber of my being and the fire of a thousand suns.
You see, this curse of knowledge is actually a blessing:
- A blessing knowing I am valued
- A blessing that I can carry myself upright
- A blessing that I can sleep well at night
- A blessing not being taken advantage of
- A blessing knowing that I did not sell out
- A blessing knowing that I am toeing the line for my colleagues, and encouraging them to do the same.
Would I like $3000? Sure. Of course I would. But not when it means that I have been bamboozled.
Every single job I look at now, I make sure that the pay is commensurate with the usage, and that the usage is commensurate with the pay. I gain a few jobs by toeing the line, and I lose a job by toeing the line. It is ten steps forward, and one step back. I can sleep at night with my forward momentum being fueled by integrity.
The coincidental thing? Every single time I decline a foul-paying job out of integrity...I somehow seem to soon after be rewarded with a new job that pays handsomely. Every time.
What fuels your forward momentum? Being full of integrity? Or being a sellout? Will you get hung up on principle, take upon your shoulders this curse of knowledge, and be blessed in the curse?
Integrity, as defined by Merriam Webster, says the following:
Please pay no mind that the word of the day, next to "integrity", is "rapscallion." Pay that no mind, please. A rather unfortunate coincidence.
If you need me, I will be over here wallowing and groveling...and firmly adhering to the quality or state of being complete or undivided.
Mr. Paulexander, Rapscallion of Integrity
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28 thoughts on “The Curse of Knowledge”
You now may have to change your first name to Paul. It’s very biblical!
Verily, verily, whatsoever thou saith, I readeth, and I say unto thee that mine name shalt conformeth to thine.
I’ve been following your work for quite some time. Thank you and all the “Pauls” for being so vocal on this (and all) important topic.
I’ve passed on many of these listings, too. And it’s not because I don’t want the work.
Knowing your worth is so important to the evolution of your business and your brand. I learned this a very long time ago in the live event space (I’ve been a Wedding Host & DJ many years), and have been able to command an exceptional rate in an industry where most simply race to the bottom to “get the gig.”
Sometimes I wonder if it’s simply ignorance or inexperience on the part of the hiring entity, or perhaps more deliberate. In either case, I want to reply to these listing like you mentioned, though it seems most listings don’t give you the option to simply contact.
In any case, thanks for the support.
Fight the good fight, and stick to your principles.
Good for you, Tony. It is a battle, isn’t it? Where have you encountered difficulties with such jobs? Which pay to play is getting your goat the most? Ultimately it is getting pervasive across most of them, even the “good” ones that are held in high esteem by the VO community. We must stay vigilant and keep fighting for what is due us. We didn’t create this industry payscale, but we are entitled to it. I wish you luck fighting the food fight on your own turf! Go git ’em.
i wish i was at the point where i was doing a lot of bidding, but not there yet josh 🙁 🙁 …..but when the time comes, it;s articles like these that will help me be fluent in my quotations. thanks again!
Keep at it, Kris! Take that stand. The jobs are still plentiful, and there is more than enough VO work for everyone. I mean it. I don’t see that changing. It just seems – and in fact it doesn’t “seem”, but rather, it IS, that lately the clients are undervaluing us across a broad range of genres and across multiple marketplaces. We must toe that line. BIG toe…not pinky. 🙂
Thank you and Paul, and the other Paul for everything you do for the VO community! It is this wisdom that has given me confidence to start turning down, while attempting to educate, jobs that attempt to undervalue voice actors. It was hard to do in the beginning because I somehow could always somehow justify the money but then through the great information shared by you and Paul squared I have come to learn so much and can feel better about the relationships and jobs that I do book that are fair and equitable for not only me but future artists. Still growing and learning and thanks for always imparting wisdom 🙏🏼🥃
You are very Paulcome – it is my Pauleasure! Thank you for reading and sharing your adventures, and what you’ve learned about quoting fair market rates. it’s desperation that drives us to undercut and sell out. It’s integrity that compels us to toe the line and to take a stand for our very worth. GOOD ON YOU. Keep up the great work, Bruce!
I avoid the waaaay underbudget stuff like the plague, which on the pay to plays doesn’t leave a whole lot of wheat once you’ve separated that chaff… Its one thing when little unknown entities do this $500 for a local TV and in-perpetuity online ad, etc. but earlier this year I encountered a post for FOUR national spots, with unlimited cutdowns for $1000 for a multi-billion WITH. A. B… multi-NATIONAL, top-ranked (5th in 2021) quick-service restaurant who absolutely has zero excuse and should definitely know better as they’ve been running national ads for 4+ decades now. Maybe their marketing folks failed to avoid the noid.
I’d love that thousand dollars, but not at that cost, and I’m seeing the same stuff daily. Ugh! This one was the most egregious though, given the stature of the company for whom it was for.
Hmmm…I wonder if the restaurant chain you’re referring to could perhaps start with a D? And the second word starts with a P? And perhaps their first name is also a game of small black bricks with white dots that you can play? I do believe I saw that one too. It’s outrageous. Flag and report, uphold and bid ethically, and let the dominoes fall where they may, my friend. Good on ya. Now go get a slice of pizza on me.
I continue to be ap-PAUL-led by these ridiculously low rates and perpetual usage, too. Keep on flying that VO freak flag, Josh! Paul. Josh-Paul. Hmm, that could be the name of the next pope….
Pope Josh Paul I! I dunno…sounds good but I fear I would Paul, I mean fall, dreadPaully, uh, dreadfully short of Paulfect- grrr! PERfection!
Bravo, Mr. Paulexander. Thank you for setting the example for all of us. I need to up my game and continue to toe that line as well. Brilliant, fun read as always.
Yep! Yep! Yep-ity-Yep! Once again Josh, you are absolutely on point with this week’s blog. I continue to do my part in educating clients on fair market rates as well… it’s tough.
Very tough…but very worth it. Good on ya, woman! I’m glad to be on your team.
Dearest Joshua Paulexander II, Esquire.
This is *the* VO hill to die on. The world isn’t getting any cheaper or affordable. And group efforts work best when everyone in the group sticks to the plan. Thank you for being the beacon that you are.
What’s that phrase: “grapes grow best in bunches”!! Can I get an amen?
You can get TWO!
Waaaaaait for it..
I don’t know why, but when you said “recharging”, all I heard was:
Thanks, Mr. Paulexander, for yet another infuriating blog. A couple of things…unicorn liquor? Who knew? And of course, I was compelled to look up RAPSCALLION – d. ne’er-do-well – that definition is amazing, but I digress.
Just looking at your first screen shot made my blood pressure rise – and at 5:00 am, I had planned on coffee for that.
I continue to hold third-party platforms responsible for letting this sludge ooze into their sites. They should be gate keepers for this – since it is akin to spam – shouldn’t they?
Yes, I continue to refuse to lower my standards for these people, but it’s just so darn annoying and time-wasting.
I hear you! At least we still have the freedom to bid what we want. Ultimately, I very much enjoy bidding $10,000 when it says $1,500, as I relish the notion of them accidentally overlooking my bid, but listening to my audition and getting incredibly excited about me to the point of casting me, reaching out to me, engaging in dialogue with me – only to find out that I am well beyond their paltry budget. In short, you waste my time? I waste yours. Payback is a, ahem… witch…. isn’t it. 🙂
I too can attest to the fact that turning down jobs due to ridiculous pricing and unrealistic usage can be painful. I need those jobs, but still delete every one. We will never improve our rates by giving in to the downward trend. I believe we need to look beyond our own bottom lines. I want my entire industry to thrive, not just my own business.
Further, as a favor to you and to save on letter usage since letters are now endangered and all conscientious people are doing all they can to conserve them as evidenced by current spelling trends on social media, I have shortened your new name to Paulex. That is all, nothing else. Cher, Madonna, Pele and Paulex. You’re welcome.
Oh, THANK YOU! Yes….I accept. But what about such conscientious self-namers as those who simply REUSE their own name? I really appreciate the care taken by Lisa Lisa and Duran Duran…minimal usage to be sure, and reused so as to preserve more letters for the rest of us! God bless ’em. Makes me proud to be a human, and apparently…..uh….a….uh…musician…
Hail to Mr. Paulexander! LOL!
On a more serious note, I think that most of the time the buyer does not understand what it truly means to ask for a Full Buyout or In Perpetuity. As VOs we do have to try to educate the client. On the other hand, unfortunately there are those who are willing to work under those terms at a detriment to their own VO careers, as well as harming the industry.
I agree! But I think the demographics are a bit more complicated than that: there are definitely those clients who don’t understand what we’re worth, and there are definitely those voice talent who don’t understand what THEY’RE worth…but there are definitely those clients who don’t CARE what we’re worth…and they’re operating on a fixed budget that they pulled out of God knows where. It’s crazy, isn’t it? Add up those three, and you have rate erosion, career detriment, and industry harm, most assuredly.
Thanks for visiting, Paulesa C. Ho!
In today’s world you can simply say you identify as a Paul, hahaha. No, I agree! There has to be insistence on good and fair rates… The fact that desperate situations force people to do things like the list, is terrible. We were watching one of those border shows and it’s shocking how many illegal immigrants there are working at factories and farms. They have no rights in that country, so they are also being taken advantage of, I’m sure…
The economic principle is to use less to do more, but I think it should end with “within reason” haha.
Other side of the coin I also do get to an extent. If I hire someone for a project, I’d expect to be able to use it for said project’s purposes going forward, but that is reasonable. What WILL, not might, WILL happen is that if you sign over complete rights to your voice (which is what that universe perpitooty means), they will create a clone of your voice and not pay you a cent. On the plus side – I heard a commercial the other day and I am 99% sure it was a default AI voice. I have never heard anything so monotonous, hahaha. GOODNESS! My worst read on a terrible day would take more flight, grinding itself into dust before disintegrating from the tar scraping it to pieces as it gets dragged along the runway. We have those laziness and cheapskate examples that serve as terrifying warnings that a pro is the way to go! 😀
Yes we do! In the past few days I’ve seen some videos with narration clearly voiced by an AI. Although to say “voiced” implies that someone, an actual being or entity, was doing the voicing. In this case, rather, it was programming that was being programmed to *attempt* to provide a voice for said script. And they…were…horrible. At best, they’ll only be mimicry. Anyway watching those two videos gave me complete reassurance that they have a LONG way to go. They’re just not directable, and you can’t get them to say it exactly as you want them to. It’s just an attempt, and that’s all that it will ever be. I’m very grateful to be a human. 🙂 Now I just have to remain one who is toeing the line. SO important to toe that line. It’s so important, I am working on growing more toes. I will keep you toested. I mean posted.