“we’re all starving, so be quiet…”


So my voice over compatriot Rich Brennan in New York observantly posted on the Yahoo Voice Over Message Board an ad he saw recently on Joel Denver’s truly great radio webzine (recently and beautifully redesigned) All Access.com (the following ad is no reflection on Joel, or his fine site at all):

Need 2 male voices-Ages 30-50
Production company looking for male talent ages 30-50 to do voiceovers for small and medium market radio and t.v. Must have access to a professional studio Mon-Fri and be available at least one hour per day. We pay $7 for each dry unedited v/o regardless of length. (One word, one line, :15, :30 or :60)Please send :60 unpolished raw demo to voice4radio@comcast.net.

No professionally mixed demos. They seem to be rather misleading.

Deadline to submit demos is October 8, 2009.

Rich added this resonating comment:


I agree…that fee is absolutely insulting; a reflection of how poorly some people view what voice talents do professionally. So I decided to respond to the ad in my own way. This is my complete,and I thought, fairly restrained response:

—– Original Message —–
From: “Peter K. O’Connell”
To: voice4radio@comcast.net
Sent: Thursday, October 1, 2009 7:50:30 AM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central
Subject: VO needed

$7.00 per voice over?

I hope your employer offers you more professional compensation than
you are proposing to the voice over community in your ad.

peter k. o’connell :: audio’connell voice over talent
+01 716 572 1800 :: www.audioconnell.com

Hurling insults back when you’ve been insulted didn’t work in the school yard and it doesn’t work now so (as those who know me will agree) my response was tame even by my own standards. I thought just by offering a little perspective that this might let this person know that the fee was really bad.

And I did get a response, albeit unsigned, (which I’m assuming is because of this producer’s shame for lowballing this job):

> From: voice4radio@comcast.net
> Date: October 1, 2009 10:27:26 EDT
> To: “Peter K. O’Connell” > Subject: Re: VO needed
> Hahahahaha…listen sweetheart…we’re producing these ads for $15 for small market stations who can’t afford $150 spots..nor do they have the staff on hand to do their own production..so the next time you wanna be a smart ass, think before you speak..$7 is definitely enough for our talent. And since I posted this ad yesterday at 5pm..I’ve received hundreds of demos from guys who are fine with the ‘compensation’..These are people who manage their own production companies, who work in large markets and have incredible voices..(they’re just wanting a little spending money on the side)..like the rest of us. And these days, in radio…we’re all starving, so be quiet..

Which was followed up by his/her second response (still anonymous of course):

> From: voice4radio@comcast.net
> Date: October 1, 2009 10:34:40 EDT
> To: “Peter K. O’Connell” > Subject: Re: VO needed
> PS…Yeah, I checked out your website..You’re ‘one of those’….(I won’t comment..I’ll just leave it at that)..lol..

Because I’m really not sure what this person meant, I’ll have to assume that “one of those” means “professional voice over talent” or “someone who actually makes money in voice over”. It’s true, I am “one of those”…oh the shame I bear!

Are there people in the voice over industry or radio who are so desperate to put food on the table that they’ll gladly take a $7.00 voice over job (which, minus the 5 cents for printing the invoice and getting an envelope and an additional 44 cents for postage actually only equals $6.51)?

Possibly as no one is immune despite their best efforts, but I doubt any true starving is going on within this circumstance. Even if it were, most media professionals I know would be smart enough to know that they could easily avoid starvation by grabbing one of the many minimum wage jobs featured in the paper each week. Is it an easy living? Heck no but it’s a more realistic financial opportunity than snatch and grab voice jobs.

I think any responses this anonymous “producer” received were more likely responses from people WANTING to be professional voice talents or PRETENDING to be professional voice talents. Since it would seem quality is not a requirement for these producers or obviously the client, then those folks might indeed grab the glory of that $7 spotlight. But they are so sadly devaluing their professional worth (even as a newbie) for such a gig.

It’s a hard, long road ahead for these folks if they think they’ll create a career, let alone a professional reputation from $7 jobs. It’s their decision but I do feel very badly for them and they might not fully understand why.

I know, however, how much I don’t know. Mine is not the only opinion on this producer’s position (or that of the voice talent willing to take a lowball gig.

So tell me your thoughts…it’s OK to disagree with me; just provide your prospective. Or if you agree with me, your perspective is also welcome.

Is my logic flawed? Am I being an elitist?


53 Responses to ““we’re all starving, so be quiet…””

  1. Hi Mike,

    Glad to hear 2011 is working out so well, that’s awesome.

    Inferior pricing of the $7 variety are for folks who are in a desperate situation (which is certainly sad) or for folks who allow themselves to feel unworthy of a decent rate (and there are people who will take advantage of that (also sad). I hope things improve for these folks.

    You obviously are enjoying success based on your hard work, self-respect and (like all of us) some good luck. I hope it continues for you and all of us in 2011.

    Best always,
    – Peter

    PS, feel free to subscribe to this blog via RSS or email!

  2. Let’s look at this from a financial logistics point of view. We all know we’re talented and this is an unseemly amount to get paid. HOWEVER, having started my career in an ultra small market and remembering it very well (it was a major driving force in my wanting to be better and moving up- I remind myself how much it sucked every day), I can understand the “they can only afford $15 production, ergo, $7 voice work” mentality. Nothing is going to change the fact that there are thousands of one horse towns with a radio station consisting of two jocks and two sales people who happen to also be the GM and PD as well as the town’s Mayor, barber, and homecoming queen of 1965. They depend on the 3 surviving businesses to keep them afloat. They have a budget of $300 for the year to spend on production. $7 for voicework is what their market will bear. $7 is what someone, great talent or not, will take to do the work because that’s what those small town stations can afford and that’s what some people will accept for pay. For the rest of us, if you can get $150+ for 30 seconds, more power to you. You do deserve it. But always keep in mind that if the big wigs all suddenly decided that you are getting too much, then you are going to get less and you’re going to grin and bear it or else learn how to fix cars.

  3. Hi Austin,

    Thanks for your your thoughts.

    Every town and village has it own economy, as you’ve correctly pointed out. The internet, in my opinion, has confused some people into thinking that one village’s economy should somehow apply everywhere. And some less confident or uneducated voice-over talents have dropped their trousers, er, their prices because they don’t understand their own market value. This ignorance, in my opinion, has seeped into the marketplace and caused a panic among other voice talents, most of whom also don’t know any better, who think they need to charge less.

    So all of this, combined with the general insanity of fees on the pay to plays like Voice 123 and Voices.com, devalues the actual and perceived worth of voice talents.

    Somebody has to stand up and remind voice talents everywhere to grow a pair and stop devaluing the talent each has (assuming there is some talent there and with many $7 VO’s, there’s not which is why they are happy for ANY money).

    Fees are not set in stone for anyone and rates are a personal matter. But the “range” of fees affects the marketplace and that’s where we need to start taking a stand.

    Just some of my thoughts – and I appreciate yours too. Thanks.

    Best always,
    – Peter