In recent years, by far the most talked-about topic at voice over industry events and in online forums has been ‘usage’. There is one primary reason for this: the industry is going through a period of upheaval and uncertainty. Some industry influencers call it ‘volatile’. Whether that’s true or not, what’s absolutely certain is that the industry is flourishing, and examples of this abound.
For one thing, audio is making a significant comeback in advertising. Not too long ago, people claimed: “radio is dead!” It’s not. Neither is television. Broadcasting is simply changing. Radio, television, streaming, podcasting — our voice mediums are growing and the numbers are telling.
The fact is, this is an exciting time to be involved in the VO industry. Had you conducted a consumer poll merely 5 years ago, TV would still have come out on top as the most important broadcast medium. Today, it’s the Web — and by a large margin. It follows by implication that Voice123, as an online casting platform serving tens of thousands of clients and voice actors, needs to adapt accordingly.
Since broadcasting is changing, so is the concept of ‘usage’. Voice123 has taken a long hard look at the future of usage and we see a way to radically simplify the way actors set rates in this volatile voice over environment. We believe voice actors are in charge of their careers and that each professional should know their worth. With the Web surpassing television and radio as landing ground for content, how do you accurately value that work?
Currently, these are the prevailing ways in which value is determined:
- Union rates. Not everyone is a union member and unions seem to be struggling to find a way to grow with the industry.
- Rates set by the Global Voice Acting Academy in the United States, or Gravy for the Brain in the United Kingdom. Both are respected entities that provide guides for voice actors.
Essentially, the problem with rate cards is that there’s no consistency because there are too many variables in the cost equation. Some voice actors publish a ‘base rate’ that incorporates either their home studio or an external studio fee. Terms like ‘local’, ‘regional’, ‘national’ and ‘international’ have become outdated due to inherent geographical limitations; they no longer apply to the Web’s instant global coverage and the digital age we’re living in.
If the core goal of advertising and storytelling is impact, why not correlate ‘worth’ with the ‘impact’ of the campaign being voiced by an actor? Rates should then be set according to the size of the audience, not so? Let me explain by way of examples.
- You receive an invitation for a, to you, an unknown brand that is described as a local radio spot and later on the same spot for a regional campaign. Both for 2 weeks.
- Turns out that local means New York and it turns out that regional means Kansas.
- You receive an invitation for a paid web campaign from Airbnb, but it only runs for 1 week in a specific region with 150.000 expected views.
In both scenarios above, the company creating the campaign has expectations, and those expectations are listeners. That’s how radio and TV stations sell their advertising space. It’s also how advertising space is sold on the Web: the estimated number of views determines the cost.
That said, let’s make this personal. Here’s a question:
Do the people asking you for your voice over work have this information at hand when they want to work with you?
Maybe. Maybe not — and if they don’t, we can help them figure that out. So, instead of going ‘local’, ‘regional’, ‘national’, ‘international’, ‘big company’, ‘small company’, ‘30 days’, ‘60 days’, ‘3 months on 4 different channels’, and so on, we just ask: “What’s the expected audience size of your campaign?”
Now. Imagine having a rate card that automatically calculates what your rate should be based on two components:
- Your base rate per word/time, and
- The expected audience size.
By providing us with those two answers, we can have a future-proof rate card for you.
And we think that’s a good thing. Don’t you?