Recently, there has been quite a discussion relating to a voiceover casting site (voices.com) and how they work with clients and voices. Yesterday, voiceover talent and Edge Studio Managing Director Graeme Spicer spent over an hour talking with David Ciccarelli, the CEO of voices.com. Many talent tuned into the webinar. If you missed it, hopefully you will have an opportunity to hear it or see it somewhere.
There are a couple points to illuminate. First, this marketplace considers the client theirs. This was a bit shocking to some. Some talent believe that the marketplace’s job is to connect those needing a voice (the client) and voiceover talent together. The talent pay a yearly fee to be part of the marketplace. Once a connection is made, the talent does the work and gets paid. Yet through the discussion with Spicer, it became clear that this marketplace considers the client their own, and not the voiceover talent’s client. Fair enough. They built the marketplace platform and have many barriers in place to keep the client and talent fairly separated. No phone numbers traded; direct contact is discouraged. Interesting to note their terms of service do not fully match what was stated in the interview. A couple excerpts: (from Paragraph 2) Clients will pay the fees it agrees to pay Talent for each assignment, plus a transaction fee for Voices.com as quoted through Voices.com. (and from Paragraph 3) Payment Service: Payments for voice talent work must be made through Voices.com and not from Client to Talent directly.
What is perceived as not fair and rather disingenuous by many talent is how the compensation structure has worked in many situations as detailed in the interview. It appears this marketplace may get an advertiser that posts a job, let’s say a $1,000 job, seeking voiceover talent to audition. The marketplace moves the job into a “professional services group” (also called a managed job) with the goal to make the process smooth for the advertiser…yay! Value added. However, the talent are shown a compensation rate significantly less (as much as 50% less from examples shared during the webinar and on the web). In effect, the talent are being compensated 50% of what the job pays, because the professional services group does important work along with the voiceover talent to keep the client happy on a project. That’s a potentially huge amount of money siphoned off a client’s budget before it reaches the voiceover talent. With agents, ten percent is pretty standard. Twenty percent starts to feel high. The percentages that were discussed during the interview were close to 50 percent. That is astronomical!
The percentages that were discussed during the interview were close to 50 percent. That is astronomical!
What’s worse: talent are not aware of what’s going on behind the scenes and have little knowledge of how the compensation process functions. The clients are not aware of how the process works either…they believe the budget shared is what the talent will get paid. Talent have been operating under the idea that their yearly membership fees (a few hundred dollars) are what pays for the marketplace and the amounts posted for jobs are the indeed what the client is paying. The CEO made some comments relating to this issue. He essentially said his employees need better training, some no longer work there, and that we shouldn’t judge the company based on a few rogue deals. Yet there are many that wonder: is he trying to say the employees need better training to not allow the compensation details to get out or that they adjusted compensation rates improperly and that is not how the system should work?
Many of us choose to work with agents, managers, or other connectors in voiceover. We do so knowing how compensation works. That is the crux of the issue. Secrecy in compensation structures setup by marketplaces will not be secret for ever. My father, a wise and successful business man, told me when I was a teen “There are no secrets.” As more details emerge on this issue, talent can choose whether to work with marketplaces where all compensation and transaction details are understood.
What do you say?