We’ve got a very interesting subject this month: an exposé on a new online casting or “pay-to-play” website—Voice Jockeys—that’s lowering the low bar already set by these sites.  I received an email from this company that was soliciting voice talent.  Their rates for payment were utterly ridiculous, and their contract was outrageous. I immediately contacted my colleague, Robert Sciglimpaglia, Jr., (www.robpaglia.com) who is a voice actor and attorney, and author of Voiceover LEGAL (www.voiceoverlegal.com) and asked him if he knew about this company and/or if he’d been contacted by them.  He said he’d look into it and get back to me.  Soon afterward, he wrote a scathing exposé on them on www.VoiceoverXtra.com.  Here’s Part I:

Pay: Voice Actor / Attorney Fumes At Online Casting Company’s Contract:

By Rob Sciglimpaglia Jr., Voice Actor & Attorney

You were just hired to be the voice for a 30-sec national TV commercial for a new soft drink. This commercial will air all over the country, for YEARS! You are ecstatic!  You are contacted by the company producing this spot, and told you have two hours to turn the script around. You record the commercial and send in the file.  Then…

  • The company calls to say you need to re-read it. You do that and send it back.
  • The company calls again and says the client is still not satisfied, so can you please read it once more? Now you are getting a bit frustrated, but you comply.
  • Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, you get yet a THIRD call for a THIRD revision. You do that, although it takes every muscle in your face to deliver the copy with a smile!

Whew, finally they are satisfied.

PAY DAY…?

Now, here comes pay day on the first of the month, and what are you paid for that spot that is airing on TV at that very moment?   A whopping $55. That’s right, $55!  Oh, but WAIT A MINUTE, it’s not really $55, because you owe a 50% commission to the company that sent you the gig. You read that right. I didn’t add an extra zero. I didn’t say five percent. I said FIFTY!

NIGHTMARE SCENARIO

The above scenario is NOT a nightmare! Not something of my imagination, nor one that I dreamed up.  This is a real life scenario from a new company – which I will not name publicly at this point – that is “producing” voice-overs.   The above scenario raises the immediate issue in my mind as to how a respectable voice talent could agree to work for such a low rate.  And it also makes me scratch my head as to why a talent would do so, and run the risk that they are conflicted from doing a voice-over for a competitor’s product while the spot for which they were paid $27.50 is running.

Just think about getting called in for a career-breaking audition for a national SAG commercial opportunity from Coca-Cola that will pay thousands of dollars in residuals. And when the auditioner asks, “Do you have any soft drink commercials running?” you answer that indeed you do – the one for which you were paid a measly $27.50.

STUDY THE CONTRACT

This nightmare gets worse. In fact, it puts the “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequel to shame!   Icarefully reviewed the rates and contract that is posted on the web site for this company, and it is straight out of the dark ages concerning protection of the rights of the working voice-over artist.  I liken it to a SWEAT SHOP for voice talent.  Here are some of the highlights, or more aptly, lowlights.

THE RATES

First, the rates. Mind you, these rates are flat and do not take into account USAGE. So, the rates are the same if you record a commercial that will run in a two-person local market, or nationally.  The contract states: “Rates are based on a single purchase with 3 re-reads if necessary.”

Voice Over Rates:  15 Seconds $45.00 / 30 Seconds $55.00 / 60 Seconds $99.00 / 90 Seconds $145.00 / 120 Seconds $195.00.

Narration Rates: 3-5 Minutes $295.00 / 5-10 Minutes $500.00.

TO BE ELIGIBLE…

The prerequisites to applying to be in this company’s roster include…

“… you must be able to work from your home or office studio, be able to turn around projects in as fast as 2 hours from the time ordered and be a professional. Compensation is at the sole discretion of the Company and may change upon reasonable notice to Voice Personality …”

So, they can pay you the above little fees IF they want to, less the 50% commission, of course.

I’ll be bringing you Part II next month.

Marc Cashman © 2012

MARC CASHMAN, President and Creative Director of Cashman Commercials/L.A., creates and produces copy and music advertising for radio and television. Winner of over 150 advertising awards, he’s a guest speaker at Ad Clubs and Broadcasters Associations throughout the U.S. and has been interviewed in trade magazines, newspapers and on radio and television programs. As a voice actor, Marc was named one of the “Best Voices of the Year”—twice—by AudioFile Magazine. He’s also taught voiceover at California Institute of the Arts and instructs all levels of voice acting through his classes, The Cashman Cache of Voice-Acting Techniques in Los Angeles, CA, as well as world-wide tele-coaching. Marc has been the Keynote Speaker and Master Class instructor at VOICE 2008, 2010 and 2012, the only international convention for voice actors. He can be contacted at 661-222-9300, cashcomm@earthlink.net or through his website, www.cashmancommercials.com.

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