How much should you get paid for what you do?
In the acting world, you can get paid nothing for being in a play, despite hours spent rehearsing and performing. Getting experience, a credit for your resume, having something to invite agents to, and maybe working with a prominent director/theatre company are supposed to be enough. On the other hand, some VO jobs I record at home I can get $150 for less than an hour of work. Which may seem like a lot until you realize that union VO actors can earn thousands for a national commercial that took them less than an hour to record, because they earn residuals every time it plays.
It’s one thing if you apply for a job an are offered a salary. You have a base from which to negotiate. If you can’t ask for more money, maybe you can get flex time or more vacation days. If I get booked for a job through an agent, the rates are set. Plus if the client doesn’t pay, they follow through.
Setting rates for jobs that don’t come through agents can be a challenge.
I’ve learned the general range for various types of projects, and I have VO friends to go to for advice. While I want to get what my time, talent and experience are worth, I don’t want to price myself out of the job. The hardest to bid on are opportunities that say the budget is “To be defined.” Do I bid per minute, per word, per hour of my time or finished audio, or per project? You have to take into account the length of the project, the amount of editing required, and also where and for how long the project will run. Is it just for the Internet, internal corporate use, a small market for cable, radio or TV? Regional or national? Will it run 13 weeks or should you offer a year buyout? Is it for a toy, game or even a phone app? An educational CD or DVD someone will sell? I saw a post recently for real estate narration that paid based on the cost of the property.
And how much should you get for selling a book? Advances range from nothing for some e-publishers to thousands. Some books sell at auctions. Royalty rates differ. Other contract terms such as print runs, marketing, free author copies may be negotiable.
Should athletes get paid millions for dropping half of the balls they are supposed to catch while teachers make so much less? Supply and demand, letting the market decide…that is the American Way. So I guess we are worth whatever we can get.
How do we not sell ourselves short, especially now, in the midst of so many cutbacks and layoffs?