Work not Play

Ruth Urquhart
Voice Over: Scottish

Hi everyone,
I've been getting a bit frustrated at seeing 'busy' production companies boasting at how well they are doing and at the same time looking for voice actors to work for free for them. I have started applying for them just to get clarity, genuinely asking them if they really mean no pay and think we should all do this as it gently reminds them that this is a profession not a hobby. However, This morning my partners' Musicians Union mag arrived in the post and I am encouraged to see them launch a campaign and website called worknotplay.co.uk where members can name companies who are exploiting talent. I have just written to Equity suggesting they do it too as it's about time that these companies stopped playing on the 'fame seeking' element and paid fairly for professional talent.


  • 7 years ago
  • 1,517
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Stephen Chesterton
Voice Over: English

Nice find Ruth :)

Most companies seem to pay substandard rates but we also have other sites that devalue our trade...Yes! I'm looking at you Fiver!
I'll help where I can with this campaign because I feel like shouting at some of the people that post jobs on VP.

There was one recently about a VO that needed to have a daughter to exploit, for the same poor fee! HOW ABOUT NO!

Sorry, as you can see, I feel a little passionate about these things :)


  • 7 years ago
  • 1
Ruth Urquhart
Voice Over: Scottish

I am right with you Stephen!
Equity tell me they have started a ' Low Pay, No Pay' campaign that will be 'even better' than the MU one!
What do you think about applying for things simply to politely ask the question WHY aren't they paying/is the pay so low?I think if more people did this it would raise a bit of pressure on employers to pay properly.
I appreciate some people are just trying to create projects and have no money but they aren't the ones who irk me. Its the ones who give no reason or explanation of their lack of pay especially when the 'No Pay' thing is followed by a big boastful rant about how well their company is doing! Or the ones who go on about 'exposure' or 'great opportunity'...Urgh!
Actually, our boiler has just broken but its ok cos I am going to tell the plumber that it will be a great opportunity for him to fix it , will be great exposure and will surely lead to other paid work ;-)


  • 7 years ago
  • 2
Stephen Chesterton
Voice Over: English

I think asking people about their rates is fine, but I also think that that should be the remit of VP themselves to protect their talent pool.

Sure, we could all go to Fiver and start earning right now, but that devalues the trade as a whole. Other sites, set rates as a guideline. Why Voices Pro doesn't do this, I have no idea.

Personally I feel that if it isn't Equity or some other reasonable pre defined rate. All other work should be classed as opportunities which ranges from free, to sub Equity (et al) rates.

Let me put it this way. Lets say you had a job for some aspiring talent. You join VP which offers you 2 options. Pay someone, or don't and hope you land a professional talent anyway.
If you ask me, I would go down the free route every time. Even if my budget only allowed £50 for a talent. That's still £50 in my pocket, not someone else's.

Any comment on my ideas Admins? It is a valid point with a possible solution.

I still feel it should be VP that protects their talent pool, rather than the talent start dictating work fees.
Negotiating fees is something we all need to do at some point.

Should we challenge ridiculous rates? Most definitely yes!
My question is. Why isn't VP doing that?


  • 7 years ago
  • 3
Justyna Kuls
Employer

Hi Stephen, I'm not sure if you're new on the website and still don't know how the job activation process works, so I'll be more than happy to explain.

All new posts are personally checked by the site's manager (in this case myself) - either via phone or email, depends on the employer's availability. We talk to them, ask for the production details, guaranteed min pay and any other details we find useful for you while applying. We're absolutely NOT posting anything that falls under 52 GPB per day (which is NMW, daily rate for 8 hrs).

For people who are keen to do student jobs or anything that pays below this requirement, we have the Opportunities section. These jobs are NOT emailed to you and not promoted by us in any way, but knowing the reality we're allowing to add them on VP. After all it's up to you whether you'll submit your CV for an unpaid / low paid job or not.

Should you have any more questions, please feel free to call us on 020 7288 7404.


  • 7 years ago
  • 4
Ruth Urquhart
Voice Over: Scottish

I see both points here. Glad that VP doesn't put anything below the nat min wage in the paid section but in truth the national minimum wage is not enough particularly not in this type of work which is contract jobs here and there and usually not regular.
I do look at the unpaid section and think it's fine that it's there for student things or for people striving to do creative things but who genuinely don't have any money. what makes me cross is when it clearly isn't that. When instead it's some production company going on about how great they are doing, how busy they are and yet blatantly state 'no pay'.
Perhaps VP should ask companies to state a reason as to why there is no or low pay?


  • 7 years ago
  • 5
Stephen Chesterton
Voice Over: English

Thank you for taking the time to respond Justyna.
I did not know how it worked, but it explains a lot.
Would you mind telling me, if you tell people to charge minimum wage, or do you only check they pay that much? I only ask because the average seems to have lowered to minimum wage. I have no evidence to support this feeling, it is exactly that, just a feeling.

How about other rates in consideration process? A 3 Year Global buyout is more than minimum wage don't you think?

We may be going over old ground here, but when most jobs I see are for minimum wage, I start to suspect that they know they can pay so much. Again, If I was an employer and you tell me I can pay minimum wage, and I had another figure in mind... Guess which one I'm going to choose :)

I think I will take you up on your offer of a call.
I realise we are just one small division of the sprawling VP empire and as a result, perhaps we shouldn't expect much work. Perhaps there is an unnatural slump in the volume of fresh work coming through VP's doors? I'm not counting the translation work, simply because that is another trade entirely.

I've probably just got my wires crossed Justyna, and fussing over nothing. If I am, I apologise.


  • 7 years ago
  • 6
Justyna Kuls
Employer

Hi Stephen, we only check if the jobs reach the NMW level when there's no pay on the post. I'm absolutely NOT asking the employers to pay so little, no.

Also, if you take a look at our jobs board you'll see that in reality we have much more well paid offers than you think :)


  • 7 years ago
  • 7
Justyna Kuls
Employer

Ruth, I understand your concern about companies using the unpaid section to save some monies from the production's budget.

I can ensure you that these are being checked + we're not allowing any unpaid/low paid corporate nor commercial stuff on any of our sites.


  • 7 years ago
  • 8
Ruth Urquhart
Voice Over: Scottish

Thanks for responding Justyna. I'm glad that you don't let commercial companies go on there although it seems sometimes they simply are not explaining why there is no or low pay and I feel that there should be a reason given. The genuine ones always do. There are others who either deliberately don't (they are the ones I am suspicious of) or sometimes it's them being unclear. Occasionally I have 'applied' simply to ask if they really mean no pay and twice employers have reposted their brief following this giving more clarity.


  • 7 years ago
  • 9
Stephen Chesterton
Voice Over: English

Yeah, as a male and Translation Jobs aside, there are only 2 roles available.
How many male VO's are registered again?

But you are right Justyna, as those 2 roles seem to pay above minimum wage :)


  • 7 years ago
  • 10
Cia Allan
Voice Over: English

In general, VO rates are dropping and this is partly because of the international reach of web-based voiceover casting sites and the ease with which media companies can access rates in the USA, Europe and elsewhere for price comparison. It’s bound to result in the lowest common denominator effect. A company I used to work for had paid me well for the first and second jobs. The third job, they cut the rate in half stating client budget restrictions. I said I wasn't happy but did the job as I thought this was a one-off budget difficulty. When they came back for a fourth job saying the budget was now a quarter of the original first job fee, but had a longer script, enough was enough. I said I wouldn't work for such low fees. They replied saying OK they'd use someone else instead, and they did. There is no loyalty when it comes to these companies and their budgets. If they can get it cheaper they will. Unfortunately some good talent, needing the money, will work for lower rates but long term, it’s like shooting themselves in the foot. When talents start refusing to work for low rates, there will come a time when instead of being replaced by talent that is equally good (but broke!) they will be replaced by voices with less experience and of a lower standard. Eventually, if a time comes when the difference becomes noticeable, the rates may rise again to attract experienced talent, but until then, rates will likely continue to drop. Sadly ...... :-( It’s up to us to refuse work if we want to protect rates.

I think the media companies who offer jobs for No Pay are more often using sites such as St--- N-w which, being regulated from shores afar, probably has less control over what is paid.


  • 7 years ago
  • 11
Stephen Chesterton
Voice Over: English

I don't know if this is down to VP suggesting this to employers, but I have seen more jobs paying buyouts now.
To protect your IP (your voice), unless it's single/private use, a buyout should be included.
They are pretty small for perpetuity buyouts, but there are more of them, for the jobs which qualify and thats great news.
If this is down to the VP admins, then, thanks for looking out for your customers :) I appreciate it :)


  • 7 years ago
  • 12
Cia Allan
Voice Over: English

I recently applied for, and secured a VO job but given that the fee was only my normal session fee, I stressed in my application that their offered amount would get them one read only They replied saying they wanted three edited takes so they could choose the bits they liked best. I pointed out that this was 3x the recording work and explained that the even lengthier editing process would also be tripled! So 'no'.

The result was a higher fee offered and all the editing done at the client's end instead.

It's worth negotiating!


  • 7 years ago
  • 13
Cia Allan
Voice Over: English

I recently applied for, and secured a VO job but given that the fee was only my normal session fee, I stressed in my application that their offered amount would get them one read only They replied saying they wanted three edited takes so they could choose the bits they liked best. I pointed out that this was 3x the recording work and explained that the even lengthier editing process would also be tripled! So 'no'.

The result was a higher fee offered and all the editing done at the client's end instead.

It's worth negotiating!


  • 7 years ago
  • 14
Stephen Chesterton
Voice Over: English

Nice one Cia :)


  • 7 years ago
  • 15
Graeme Easton
Voice Over: Scottish

Hi

Agree with all the above comments. The music industry, in terms of bands/singers is exactly the same. If the Musicians' Union and the likes of Equity and any other creative professional bodies came together as one voice (ho, ho!) on this issues then it may have more clout.


  • 7 years ago
  • 16
Cia Allan
Voice Over: English

Sometimes we just need to put the proverbial foot down. I very recently was offered one role, and invited to audition for another role (not as a voiceover this time but as an actor). Both castings were listed as Corporate Videos. Both turned out to be commercials of the acted-out testimonial variety. A week's worth of script-learning to do and one session fee offered. No buyouts on either so I said NO to both opportunities. It hurts to turn down the money but at the end of the day, if we don't take a stand, it will only get worse.


  • 7 years ago
  • 17
Stephen Chesterton
Voice Over: English

True Cia.

I have had a few replies from people new to the business, so... For others reading this thread, that might not know what a "Buy-out" is.

Your voice, is your property. Technically, when you work for a client they are purchasing your voice for a short term.
Much like music, the creator still owns the music, but you get to listen to it.

A Buyout is a licence to use it over a long term and is an easy way to reach an agreement for long term work. For example. You do a script reading, and it is great. The work only takes you an hour. The AD campaign that is using your voice is running for 3 years.
Do they just pay you for the hour?
In a perfect world, you would also be offered a buyout, allowing them to licence your voice for the 3 years that the campaign runs.

So, what work constitutes the use of a buyout?
This is a grey area as a VO, as it depends greatly on the project it's self. My personal rule is to raise the subject if the project runs over a year (dependant on project/budget). In my humble opinion, projects that run over a year, or are international or TV based should really be offering buyouts.

Some of you will have the right voice at the right time, and land a huge contract. Normally buyouts at this level are a given. It's the smaller contracts that are the issue.

Can every project afford a buyout? No.
Does every project need a buyout? No. It's your choice if you decide to work for them or not. I'm not going to sit here and tell you to turn down paid work. Especially if the work is reasonably paid.

So how do you ask? Fairness, I think is key. Just by saying you will accept "any FAIR offer" allows the ball to be in their court and make an educated guess within their budget constraints and return with an offer.
To be honest, personally I operate a, something is better than nothing, policy. I always ask. But if the project cant afford a buyout then the decision is on me, for the work.

I'm am in no way saying that you should demand xyz. All I'm doing is letting you know where you stand. Did you know you can issue a takedown notice if someone is using your work without your permission? You can. Is it worth it? 99.9% of the time, no, it's not. But you can defend your property if you can provide proof.

It's all down to what is best for you. I myself am working on 3 long term projects, completely free. I'm also having a lot of fun playing X-Men heroes and villains and narrating short stories. But I have agreed to work for free so the ownness is on me.
I know this is a grey area but hopefully there is something that may have helped :)


  • 7 years ago
  • 18
Cia Allan
Voice Over: English

The buyout may also compensate you, the artiste, a little for the fact that you MAY not be able to work for another company where there could be a conflict of interest - particularly in commercials.


  • 7 years ago
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