Tools of the trade deserve proper rates
Over the last 100 years voices have been broadcast into our homes in various forms of changing media, and we all recognized the power of “the voice”. Who can forget the historical speeches prior to WWII and after, or the commentary of great sporting events, news, and radio plays loved by millions.
The movie “The King’s Speech” demonstrated some technical aspects of the early days and how men in dustcoats would wander around twiddling knobs in lead-lined rooms.
Everything was planned, talent were booked weeks in advance, and everyone converged on a central studio. Technology changed over the years and vast studios became smaller, DJs and rock n’ roll were king, as voiceovers were either read live or recorded at the radio station. TV announcers worked live and ads were voiced in professional studios.
But in the 1980’s things started to move in a different direction due to something new: Overnight delivery of parcels from companies like FedEx. A handful of voiceover guys saw an opportunity, “Send your script to me, and we will have the voiceover on your desk in the morning!”. Believe it or not, this was the beginning of the home studio because distance was no longer an issue and you could be the voice of a network on the other side of the country.
Over the last 30 years technology has gone ahead in leaps and bounds. It is no secret that now with digital recording, the Internet, ISDN, Source Connect, ipDTL, etc. voice actors can work in real-time from home to anywhere. However, despite these changes we can still be booked and go to a professional studio where an engineer will set up the mic and levels, producers will direct, and at the end of the session, the voice talent leaves more so with a face-to-face understanding of “how they did”. Professional studios are built properly, the equipment is first rate, and the technical side is managed by people with professional experience or education from audio engineering school.
Changes for voice talent
For the voice talent looking to work from home, we have to learn new skills, engineering, editing, what to buy and how to use it. As someone who has personally built a few studios (getting by with a little help from my friends), I know what is required and what it costs. To be able to replicate, or get as close as possible to a full-blown studio you will need money and knowledge. Today’s voice talent may in fact face higher start-up costs than those starting out 30 years ago.
The good thing is you just need to have a booth that is broadcast quality and the ability to edit if necessary. An important thing to remember is you technically are not a studio. You are a remote booth for the studio you are working with. We are the first generation of voice actors who have had to build our own broadcast quality studios and spend a substantial amount of money to do so.
That money needs to be recouped.
We are also the first generation to offer our services to the masses, while the expectation is that we cut our rates as voice talent! And this is crazy! If we are serious about setting up a healthy business, something with longevity, we need to be mindful and know our worth. There are hard costs involved now and we have to bare this in mind.
Every time you get behind the mic, the one you bought, remember in most cases the people you deal with online expect you to offer that expensive mic, and all of your equipment for free. It may now be seen as a “tool of the trade”, but DO NOT discount your voice.
Why? Anyone can build a studio or own a mic, but because they knew what to do to get started does not mean they know how to make money with the studio or mic.
As a voice actor it is your voice, with the knowledge and talent to use it correctly, that brings in the money. This cannot be bought at Sweetwater. It takes years of work and dedication and deserves to be remunerated as any other professional running a business would expect for themselves. By supporting stronger, union rates you are supporting a future for yourself as a professional voice actor.
People know you have a $2000 mic. Now let them hear your $5000 voice.
This Thursday on August 14th at 7pm EDT, get more insight into the voice industry. Join Jim Kennelly of Lotas Productions NYC and GM Realtime Casting for our first webinar on August 14th.
This one webinar will leave you feeling confident to handle the diversity of working online in voiceover casting.