Platforms and Percentages

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Platforms and Percentages

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?

By | 2017-05-18T17:47:39+00:00 November 4th, 2015|Uncategorized|4 Comments

About the Author:

  • I said “take down my profile”. I’m just not prepared to associate with companies who are injurious to our industry in this sort of way any longer. I’d love others to follow, if they feel in agreement with me, but it’s a personal choice and a matter of conscience.

  • Well said, Sean. Voice Over is actually a pretty small world, and things won’t stay ‘secret’ for long. I voted with my feet and walked away (making sure my profile was removed).

  • Here’s the way I interpret it. There are two choices offered to Clients: Managed and non-managed listings. There is one way for Talent: Our way or the highway.

    In a non-managed listing the Client is in a do-it-yourself position. Lists the job, specs and budget (for which he may be advised by the agency’s Rate Table, but not informed that they are minimum rates,) listens to all the auditions (or as many as he can stand) picks a Talent who has accepted the stated bid or over or under bid it, pays the agency, who then pays the Talent the bid rate, less 10% vigorish. It is not stated nor is it clear whether the Client’s budget was more or less than the bid rate.

    In a managed listing for which the Client may have asked or been sold by an agency employee, the agency provides a value added service to the Client by negotiating a budget with the client, deciding how much of that budget to offer the Talent, and then list the job. The agency rep then listens to all the auditions, subjectively decides which ones to pass on to the Client—included in that decision is whether the Talent accepted the offered rate, over or under bid it, notifies the chosen Talent, takes the 10% vigorish from the bid amount and pays the Talent.

    1. Only the agency knows what the Client paid and what the Talent received.

    2. All the value added services of managed jobs inure to the Client, but are paid for out of the talent budget—since the Client is never charged, even for managed jobs, whatever it pays was already in its talent budget. Plus there is an additional layer between the Client and Talent—whose audition may never be heard by the Client.

    3. When a rep makes a decision to pass along an audition, in addition to the technical quality of the recording and the quality of the performance, which were discussed in the interview, is the amount bid by the Talent a consideration? After all if the Talent over bid, that’s less money for the agency. Are the reps paid on commission?

    4. It was never made clear but in non-managed jobs it appears that, besides the 10% vigorish, the agency takes no money from the transaction—it is assumed that the Premium and Platinum fees paid by the Talent cover this. This would seem to give added incentive to make non-managed jobs, managed jobs.

    • seancaldwell

      Had a conversation with a producer that has used the p2p we’re discussing. She said that when she submitted jobs to the site, she got the “we want to help you, we want to manage your job and make it easy,” even on $300 jobs. Wonder what percentage of the jobs rolling through the site become ones that compensate the talent less than 70 percent of the job.