Many people have the problem saying no to requests, invitations, and opportunities because they don’t want to feel guilty for disappointing others or they don’t want to risk burning any bridges.
But if you take on too many commitments or commitments that are not aligned with your values and your gut feelings, you end up being stressed, lose productivity, feeling resentful in knowing your time could have been better spent.
Here are 5 things to Say No to in the Voice over Industry
Listen I get it, sometimes you’re just wanting to get some practice and some gigs in to build your portfolio. And other times you may be trying to make ends meet to pay the next bill. There are all kinds of factors that may sway you to say yes to low-paying jobs.
And I’ll admit I’ve done it.
So No Judgment from me. We all have to start somewhere!
The important thing is to remember your value and worth. We all have our own values and scale as to what we are willing to do in exchange for our time/ exposure, etc.
However, this should not become a habit or be done out of desperation. It is to be avoided if our circumstances enable us to say no.
That’s why I strongly recommend don’t quit your day job and other streams of income until you feel financially secure.
In voiceover, non-union jobs generally pay less. And within the non-union world, there are certain genres (such as indie animation, game developers, anime dubbing) to name a few… that are dominated more by non-union companies. Thus, the pay conditions are controlled by these companies.
As a collective, if more of us say no and insist on better-paying wages in non-union type works, there’s a better possibility for us to have our demands met in the future.
Let us try and help each other by saying no to low-paying offers as much as we can. This way the standards can slowly adjust and set themselves to be more at par with union and industry-standard rates so that as voice artists we get paid well for our time and our work of art. We deserve it.
There are two frequently used voiceover rate guides that you can refer to, and point your clients to, to understand the industry-standard rates and what you’re worth.
Educate yourself! If you say yes to this, this means the company who you do the voiceover work buys out your voice and can use your voice forever, without paying you beyond your negotiated rate in perpetuity for all media, regardless of how many times they choose to run the ad.
Think! As our world is moving to AI making everything sound mundane and devoid of personality, connectedness it’s not only damaging the VO industry as a whole but also our world. As human beings, we are in desperate need of connection and communicated to. It’s our job as voiceover artists to use our voices to be storytellers, to engage and keep humanity’s discovery, expression and spirit alive.
So when a client comes to you and asks you for a full buyout in perpetuity, say no and ask if they could consider:
- restricting the in-perpetuity buyout to just non-paid media, or
- put a time limit on perpetuity (if broadcast is required)
By doing this, you are remembering your worth to be paid fairly for the work you’ve done.
If after negotiating you’re still not happy with the terms, Say no to in perpetuity! It might hurt now but saying yes will hurt even more in perpetuity later.
You’ll automatically remove yourself from being considered for a more lucrative job that comes along in the future.
Saying no to ‘in perpetuity’, you are essentially protecting yourself in the future if a brand asks you to disclose ALL the work you’ve done for a competitor. i.e. You did a gig for Samsung and you signed an agreement, agreeing they can use your voice in perpetuity that will be broadcast in media and available to the public. This will then be a conflict if you want to do work for Apple (a competing brand) that may want you to be exclusive while Samsung’s ad is running.
Contribute and choose consciously to work on projects now. It can make a difference to your career and the world in more ways than you can imagine. For those who are interested in learning how to negotiate, Maria Pendolino is a voiceover negotiation queen. She offers a voiceover negotiation course / consult from time to time, so definitely reach out to her.
If you haven’t gotten training, coached, or worked on your craft, there’s no way you’ll be ready to record a demo within a weekend workshop or just a few coaching sessions.
Often time, these are charlatans trying to make a quick buck and don’t take the time to understand your goals. They don’t have your best interest at hand and they don’t spend the time to produce the best demo tailored to your needs and one that showcases your skills, range, and capabilities.
Trust me, a good coach will tell you, you’re not ready. Read more about what to consider when hiring a voiceover coach. When you are ready, your kick-ass coach can probably refer you to a reputable demo production company if they are not skilled in producing award-winning demos.
For convenience, you can check out my resource section for a list of reputable Demo Production companies that are updated regularly and downloadable based on word of mouth in the VO industry.
Anytime you see a ‘game show’ host is needed. Or, how there’s a job and you’ve shown interest. There’ll be a follow-up email.
Typically, the scammer will say they’ve booked a studio where you’re based and they’ll be sending a check (which is fake) to you. They’ll instruct you to deposit it at your bank and transfer half the amount to the sound engineer (aka the scammer) you’ll be “working with”. After a couple of weeks later when your bank notices it’s a fake cheque, you’ll be on the hook for the amount you’ve cashed.
Doug Turkel, a fellow voiceover artist wrote a very detailed informative post outlining the anatomy of a voiceover scam, click here to learn more.
A quick caveat: If you have been selected and have a firm, solid contract in place, then item #5 is not applicable. Say Yes, and record your heart out. If you got the script from your agent, and it’s less than a minute, this is also not applicable. User your common sense.
However, if you don’t have a contract in place or you’ve received the script from a prospective client you’ve procured on your own, here’s what to do:
- read a sample. If it’s more than a five minutes’ script, I’d probably read (1 to 2 minutes). Do not read the whole thing;
- change some words. If there’s a phone number, change the phone number or change the company name, i.e. make up an ABC company or use your own business name;
- add a watermark, i.e. low volume sound, as a second layer underneath the audio track saying ‘sample’ or ‘this is an audition’
Most professional clients will want to work with professionals and this would not be a problem for them.
So be bold and communicate your boundaries and give them what they need while safeguarding your time and place. This will help you establish yourself and your voiceover business to the next level.
If the request comes from a large, well-established company, you can read the whole thing and send it to them provided you don’t sign anything that hands over the right of usage. If you catch them using it without paying you, you can easily find a lawyer to go after them. It’s an easy case to win, as they will lose in court and be quick to pay to compensate you and for the additional damages before trial.