Entries Tagged as 'voiceover'

the voiceover negotiator (establishing & defending your voiceover rates)

Get Paid Fair Market Voiceover RatesSome voice talent come into the voiceover business with blinders on…all they see are microphones, scripts and money. The business part they kind of “poo-poo” away dismissively, only to find themselves later to be playing catch up or out of the business entirely.

There are lots of books and videos and classes and seminars on all this voiceover business stuff.  Today, I thought I’d share my perspective on how to establish rates and execute negotiations after almost 40 years in voiceover. This isn’t all inclusive (you have to PAY for that 😉 ) but I will share some of what I feel are key points.

The business part of voiceover starts almost immediately, when you get your first job. Say it’s a commercial for a local bank…a local bank that has multiple branches across your state. It’s going to be on the radio and it’s :60 seconds. The client who offers you the job is a video production studio doing the production and hiring of the VO talent.

The studio offers you $50 for the gig.

Boy are you excited, first paying gig, heard across the state! All my family will hear it! This is my big break…here we go!

The excitement is understandable and natural.

SFX: Splashing a bucket of cold water on the new voice talent

Slow down there, Secretariat! Don’t jump into the studio yet.

That $50 fee is WAY too low for a regional radio spot.

If you accept the spot for that rate, you’ve established yourself as a VO who works way below rates and trust me, the studio KNOWS the REAL going rates for voiceover. You’ll spend the better part of your initial career either digging yourself OUT of the hole (because snide word travels fast on cheap talent) or you’ll be underpaid for the rest of what only you will consider a voiceover career.

But, you say, they said that was the fee, take it or leave it.

The “that’s the fee / take it or leave it” response can mean two things IN ANY BUSINESS:

  1. This IS all I am paying anyone for this
  2. This is my current deal and I don’t want to let you know I could pay more

Here’s how a business person (and now you’re a working voice talent so: you is one ;)) handles this:

  • If the answer truly is ‘that’s all I’m paying’, you have to make a decision:

–> If you desperately need the money for food, rent or medicine (re-read and understand the word desperate…that’s important here) then take the job and make sure your payment terms are cash on delivery (COD); waiting 60 or 90 days for such a low payment payment is a kick right in the “no-no” spot!

–> Otherwise I would politely decline and explain my rates for such a project are X (“I would love to do the project, but my rates for the project you described is X.”)

With that last sentence, you just began to negotiate.

I know, your blood pressure just spiked a bit reading all this and there is a slight ringing in your ears at the thought of negotiating. Settle down. It’s a part of the business and you need to be ready for it.

Notice, I didn’t say you needed to be perfect at it? It takes time to learn negotiating skills but being educated at the outset by knowing your rates and being able to discuss them (negotiate) is the best starting place. And it’s not hard. Truly.

Just remember this key rule in negotiations: you have to be willing to walk away from the deal.

You have to be willing to say no to a deal that is not beneficial to you. If you give that one element up in spirit or in deed, you will lose every negotiation and will be financially screwed the rest of your very short business life. That’s not a joke. I am not kidding. #truth

There are books and classes on negotiation so, if you want, start at the library or Barnes and Noble. Read a few chapters. It won’t kill you.

Maria Pendolino Voiceover Talent audioconnell

Professional Female Voiceover Talent Maria Pendolino

If books do give you hives, well, don’t become an audiobook narrator but do contact my friend Maria Pendolino who is now offering classes on VO negotiations. These classes are not free but they are worthwhile. See what she did there, knowing her market value? She makes people PAY fairly for what she knows. You need to have people pay you fairly for what you voice.

The initial business part of voiceover for EVERY TALENT should immediately focus you on setting up rates for your business. What will you charge? Every business of any size does this and so must every voiceover business.

There are variables in our particular business that impact how voiceover is priced. They include (but are not limited to):

  • Will the recording be broadcast (TV, radio, web — yes web is seen as a kind of broadcast now, but will be priced differently than radio and TV)
  • If it is broadcast, where will it play geographically (a local town, a city, a state, nationally, internationally?)
  • How long will it be broadcast? (A month, 3 months, a year, forever?)
  • Will the recording be non-broadcast (sales meeting videos, trade show videos, audiobooks)
  • Are the terms of the usage of the recording you are making for them very specific?
  • Or are you giving them use of the recording for anything down the road at no additional charge? (A radio spot could be used in a sales video or as part of a message on hold…the sales video and message on hold SHOULD be billed additionally – which is why you need to be clear on terms of usage

If you are kind of lost at square 1 (i.e. setting my voiceover rates), here are some resources to guide you on what you could charge.

Global Voice Acting Academy LogoA starting point for non-union talent (if you do not have a SAG-AFTRA union card, you are non-union) would be the Global Voice Acting Academy web site. The grids will help you break down the genre of voiceovers and what the average rate is.

If you wanted to see how Union talent charge, you can look at the SAG-AFTRA site. The published rates are the base rates and can be higher, but so too are the Union’s fees for membership, etc. It’s all above board and there’s value to being in the Union for some folks…just read all of it to have a full understanding of rates and fees.

You may ask…what about an agent? Can’t I just get an agent and let them do all the negotiations? You can hire an agent…but an agent has to want you as a talent. Are you there yet?

The bottom line is you need to be able to negotiate rates fairly on your own behalf and know your worth. It’s just that simple and there is no successful way around that business fact.

Remember just a few things about the service YOU offer:

  • If producers have come to you with a job offer, you have something they want that only you can provide...there ARE other voice talents but there is only one you and that is part of your value – you are like the super-fast motor on a brand new sports car or a beautiful new roof on an awesome house that no one needs to repair for 20 years!
  • You are licensing your voice (which, we’ve established, has a financial value to it) so in essence you are charging a licensing fee (based on all those areas I mentioned previously)
  • There is a minimum time requirement for someone to use your services – even if the length of the production is really short (for the aforementioned $50 for :60 second spot – the producer would be even more insulting if he said for a :30 second spot, I’ll pay you $25…. so meet your minimum fee to start with and THEN assess your final rate based on the other variable
  • And just a reminder, because you must believe this to succeed: you have value as a voice actor and that value should have a competitive price – that’s what you are establishing and negotiating

Maybe your hands are shaking a bit now, you feel a little sweaty too, but it’s not the flu…it’s reading all this rate setting and negotiation stuff.

Well, better you work all that out now that in front of a business prospect.

You are stronger and smarter than you think you are. To own your own successful business, you have to be.

Good luck!

of background singers…and voice actors – same church, different pew

20 Feet From StardomAs you well know – if you know me at all – I am notorious late to seeing, listening or experiencing quality movies or music or events. I’m just busy and I have other priorities.

My feeling is I will see it or hear it or experience it when I am supposed to. I believe I have that kind of fate or guidance…spiritual or instinctive guidance, helping me through life and I appreciate it very much.

So when I tell you that in December of 2019 I have only now seen to 2015 Academy Award winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, you won’t be surprised.

Neither will I be surprised that you probably haven’t seen it either, because it’s a documentary and they don’t get the promo that blockbusters do.

Voice actors need to see this movie.

The brief synopsis is that this movie studies (quite movingly) the history and impact that background singers have made on popular music. You hear from rock stars you know (who’s respect for background singers is immeasurable) and from people you might not know but whom you have heard and sang along with.

As you witness the movie unfold, you will be amazed.

But the movie also studies why amazing singers prefer to stay in the back ground…or try to step forward without always resounding success.

Sound much like voiceover to you?

I think it sounds EXACTLY like the voiceover industry and if you are a voice talent, checkout Netflix or another streaming service and revel in 90 minutes of culture, talent, history and…personal reflection.

I hope this helps.

source-connect is the standard and i’m a standard bearer (that means i have source-connect in my voiceover studio)

Voiceover Peter K. O'Connell Source-ConnectThere are nice things about being in a club.

I’m not talking about the leather-chair, cigar smoking clubs out there (I’ve been members at those kind of clubs…they are not that big a deal).

I’m mean like clubs where members share a common interest and can talk about things you each know about and, as a member, you can learn from people who share your interests…like audio production and voiceover. Turns out there’s a kind of club for that.

Technology brought a lot of change to the industry, some of it bad (pay to play voiceover web sites) and some of it good.

One of the good things was Source-Connect, which uses codecs and the internet to offer recording studios, media producers, voiceover talents like me and other audio professionals high-quality options to record and monitor recording sessions remotely.

ISDN AUDIOCONNELL.COMSource-Connect is (has been) replacing ISDN, which was the industry standard for remote recording. ISDN always sounds great, no doubt about that. The down side of ISDN is that it was expensive to connect to ISDN studios with over priced codec boxes and copper wiring via the telephone company’s system to make recording sessions happen.

After a while, between criminals in the street trying to steal expensive copper wiring and criminals at the phone company jacking the ISDN rates up (because they didn’t want to support an unprofitable service like ISDN)…studios and talent needed a new remote audio recording tool.

Enter Source Elements and Source-Connect. The faster the internet got, the better signals got – Source-Connect  allows super high quality remote audio recording with extremely low latency (if any at all).

Studios anywhere in the world can connect with me on Source-Connect (username: audioconnell) and the recording can be voiced by me here in Raleigh, NC voiceover studio and recorded on the other end (again, anywhere in the world) if they also have Source-Connect.

Oh, and with Source-Connect, a connection can be bridged to an ISDN recording studio if the studio only has or prefers ISDN. So I am still ISDN compatible, without the expense on my end.

That’s why I am a card carrying member of the Source-Connect club. The service makes it easier for my clients and it also make it easier for me.

Easy is the new black.

If you’d like to record with me using Source-Connect, just let me know. Voice with you soon!

audio’connell in portland, oregon (all the beautiful people)

Portland Oregon Voiceovers July 2019

Portland Voiceover Friends (around the U from left to right) Marc Rose, Bruce Miles, Emma Miles, Jen Gosnell, Peter K. O’Connell, Karyn O’Bryant, July 2019

If you’re going to travel from one ocean to the other, it’s sure is nice to have friends waiting for you on the other side.

So I did the Portland, OR trip this week…lovely weather too, so much nicer than the oppressive heat and humidity of Raleigh in the past few weeks.

I was very fortunate to have my friend Bruce Miles coordinate a lovely dinner with old and new voiceover friends….I’m told Portlandia is a foodies paradise and the two dinners we’ve had out there have been great.

So in addition to Bruce, his lovely and so fun wife Emma joined us – she’s not a voice talent, she’s better than that!

Jen Gosnell was there, taking a break from her family and voicework, great to see her. New Portlandian Karyn O’Bryant (who was on a VO-BB video chat earlier with Bruce and host of much more famous voices) came out to the party too. And I got to meet Marc Rose, a voice talent who runs Fuse Audio Design, where he also produces music and sound effects and teaches VO too.

There was an abundance of talking and noshing and just a great evening. I’m both pleased and honored that they would come out for some dinner.

Hope to see them again soon.

voiceover agent advice: ready, aim, stop!

Gabby Nistico Guide VO Agents_audioconnell

If you have read this blog for any amount of time (and, I know, why would you?) you know that I am late to the party on almost everything.

For example, there’s this new thing called a flip phone…

Anyway, while perusing Instagram today, I came across post from Gabby Nistico about agents. This may have been around for awhile – I don’t know…remember…late to the party on everything.

What caught my attention was the tag line: “Submit to Agents with Care”. Well I have shared that sentiment with talents for decades (as have others), so I thought ‘this was a good start’.

I had to sign into something, probably a mailing list, to get to what the page was about…a fairly long list of voiceover agents.

For some of you reading this, that’s going to get you all excited. That list, however, is NOT the meat on the bone.

It’s a nice list…full of some great representatives and some completely useless agents (and to be fair, a similar list could be compiled of voice talents). Worry not, the reps are not labeled as such on the list and shouldn’t be…everyone’s mileage varies and opinions are like…well never mind what opinions are like, they all stink.

But again, the list isn’t the thing.

It’s the DIRECTIONS that accompany the list that contain the best advice you’ll receive this month. They are simple, almost basic. Likely you’ve heard what Gabby has written before, from others.

But now it’s in writing…there on the printed (web) page in black and white (well actually blue and white but whatever).

You know why she says it, and I say it and other pro VO’s say it and agents say it? Because it’s true.

‘Bull in a china shop’ does NOT work when trying to get an voiceover agent. But so few folks, especially newbies, listen.

So many folks are so anxious, so excited, so blinded by the concept of getting an agent or a new agent that the common sense gene is shut down and overrun by their stupid gland and they end up making a terrible first impression and lose an opportunity at professional voiceover representation.

Gabby Nistico Female Voiceover Talent

Female Voice Talent Gabby Nistico

So instead of ‘stop, drop and roll’, please now ‘stop, read and thoughtfully execute’ your approach to professional voiceover representation. Look at Gabby’s agent list, sure, but follow her directions that are right there! If you’re NOT ready to check all the boxes, wait to approach an agent until you are.

One last thought about this….the agency world is changing and, like voice talents, agents are dropping out of the business by choice or necessity. Now more than ever.

This means fewer agencies and yet the same or more voice talents who need/want representation.

So you, voice talent person, must now REALLY come across with your most professional work and demeanor and attitude and all of it…. super important! Yes, VO agents still need voiceover talents to have a business but voice talents need quality business partners…don’t confuse Gabby’s long list for a 100% quality list. That’s true in EVERY industry.

Check before you leap…talk to other voice talents about whether they feel their agents are representing them well. You look for referrals on plumbers, why not agents? Not to make too fine a point of it, but five of my agents are in the VO Agent Alliance. I’ve known these people for years. I am thrilled to be in partnership with them because of who they are as people and professionals) Their participation in the Alliance adds great credibility to it in my eyes.

I think it’s a great place to start when beginning the agency search…but they aren’t all taking everyone. Nobody said this agent search would be fast or easy.

Then, what are your expectations for your agents? Are you expecting them to bring you buckets of VO jobs? Re-think.

Agents, in my opinion, should be viewed as presenting opportunity for talents…not necessarily actual work. Yes,  work can/does come from agents (and that’s awesome) but it mostly comes FROM US…in our demos and in our auditions when we have the opportunity presented to us.

Securing the work is ultimately up to us. Hard fact. Deal with it or get out of the business.

Partnership also means that when a gig arises – that an agent did not bring to you but where their insight could be really helpful – give the agent the gig to manage. Yes give them the commission…bring it to them. If they are good, they will help you more than you know.

If you don’t trust them enough to do that or don’t want to share in the gig, I would ask you two questions:

• Why are they your agent?
• What kind of business partner are you? (Short answer, probably not a good one)

atlanta voiceover recording (trevor johns edition)

Voice Talents Peter K O'Connell Trevor Johns

Voice Talents Peter K O’Connell and Trevor Johns in her Atlanta voiceover studio, July 2019.

The audition had to be delivered quickly.

I was in Atlanta, Georgia and knew many voiceover friends who were relatively nearby (nothing really is nearby anything in Atlanta, it seems).

I called my friend Lance Blair….he kindly offered studio time but it was in the afternoon. Grateful, but the audition needed to be in by noon.

Called my pal Jill Perry but she was also booked in the morning.

However, she’s Jill Perry…she just gets stuff done.

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O'Connell At Trevor John Studio In Atlanta Georgia

Male Voice Talent Peter K. O’Connell at Trevor Johns Voiceover Studio In Atlanta Georgia, July 2019

She said, “I cannot help you but you are going to call Trevor Johns at this number and she if she’s available, she will help you because she is awesome. Here’s the number, call her now.”

Trevor Johns, as you may recall if you’ve been to FaffCon, is a terrific, positive ball of happy, voiceover gladness.

Trevor Johns is awesome. Jill Perry said that and it is so.

Trevor had time and said for me to come on over.

Trevor works with Twisted Wave on an Apple computer…just like home.

Session was recorded and edited in record time. We even changed microphones…awesome!

So grateful for Trevor, Jill and Lance. Thanks for helping me out. You all know you have voiceover studio coverage in Raleigh when you need it.