The Union’s VO Problem (or not…)
There’s been a lot of talk in the voice over community about where the industry is headed. Unions, Pay-to-Play sites, Casting.
To be fair, the industry is changing. But that’s to be expected. There are many questions this raises…
How will the change affect us? What can we do about it? Should I even be concerned?
In this post, I will give my thoughts on three different perspectives on the changing voice over landscape. Read on below:
Perspective 1: Voice Talent
The voice talent’s perspective may be the most complicated. There are a wide range of genres, markets, and opportunities for work. Opinions vary on benefits of union membership, the role of pay-to-play sites, how to market (or not), etc. Each person’s situation is different, and because of that, it’s hard to present a unified perspective.
This also gets to the heart of a related issue: As a group, we can’t get what we want unless we can agree on what exactly that is. Some would appear to be easy. Fair pay. Safe work environment. Professionalism on all sides.
But even on the agreed items, there is no clear consensus. What does “fair pay” mean to each person? In each market? Are some willing to do work others would consider unsafe or unprofessional?
Because of all of these factors, it may be more beneficial to look at perspectives outside our own.
After all, we are selling something. It may be better to focus on what the market wants, and how we can best deliver it to them.
Perspective 2: The Union
For The Union (Sag/Aftra in the USA), the view is much broader than for any individual.
I am grateful for the benefits and standards that the union offers. And I’m grateful that we have some union folks as advocates for us all, but it seems like they are fighting an uphill battle on many issues.
Voice Acting is only a small part of what the union’s business is about. And even then, the lion’s share of their focus will understandably be on the largest prizes. These are often big budget features and high power talent. For the average working Joe, this often means not being heard at all.
Think about it: if given the choice to focus on one $10,000,000 project or ten-thousand $1,000 projects, which would you choose?
This isn’t an excuse, but it is a reason. There’s only so much time in a day. In order to keep up, the union has to stay relevant in the bigger game.
We do benefit indirectly from this. There are always roles in the big projects for the average working Joe. But we’ve got to be honest with ourselves: If you’re not famous, the union is less focused on your concerns.
It is about business, after all. As is voice acting.
Perspective 3: The Client
Although individual clients may vary, there are many common things they all want.
A voice that matches their ideas for the product or service. Professional behavior. A good price.
In some cases, they may know exactly what they want and how much they’re willing to pay. Others may require a bit more work on our part. Customer service has to include discovering the customer’s needs and fulfilling them to the best of our ability.
All customer’s time is valuable. They don’t want it wasted with idle chatter or by having to track you down for the job.
Hiring union talent may be important to some. To others, it may represent a hassle. Knowing the difference is crucial to landing the job, and getting continuing work.
Overall, customers want the whole process to be as easy as possible. It’s up to us to find out what that means for each one.
So… What Can I Do?
- Be professional.
- Deliver a solid product.
- Quote fair rates for the work, and stick to them.
- Focus on the client’s needs.
- Take direction well.
- Be friendly and easy to work with.
- Work with other voice actors on the larger issues. Together, we are stronger.
Below is a recent town hall event sponsored by the VO Agent Alliance, Global Voice Acting Academy, and WOVO.
Lots of great stuff discussed, and great groups to follow if you’d like to work together to make a difference. #VoiceStrong
All content written and voiced by Joe J Thomas online at: JoeActor.com