Recently, I was in a discussion with a colleague about rates for voice talent. As things have changed over the years, the structure of talent fees has become even more perplexing and confusing. SAG/AFTRA rates are easy to get ones head around (to a point), but when it comes to rates above and non-union, it really is a wide open deal. Everyone charges different rates for different things.
One of the issues that came up was the idea of smaller budgets. But not just smaller budgets for smaller projects. The $200 hollers.
We were talking about smaller budgets for bigger projects. I brought up the point that brands and agencies really want and like big-name voice talent (who doesn’t?), but the consensus was that the rates to get them may be too high in light of this contraction.
“Everyone wants John Corbett,” I said. “However, most can’t pay ‘John Corbett’ rates.”
So is this actually an opportunity for “regular” (I can’t think of another term for it) voice talent? The me and you out there toiling in the universe, making our way from gig to gig?
It’s hard to say. But the thought might not be too far off.
It seems as though that if the budgets are contracting, then this could potentially be a renaissance of sorts for voice talent who aren’t celebrities. It could open up some interesting possibilities.
Putting on my creative/producer hat on here, I can say that if I could end up saving money and getting a great product at the same time, I’d probably go the less expensive route. And when I say “less expensive,” I mean paying union rates or slightly above.
I’ve worked with “brand name” talent before and, to be perfectly honest, I’m not 100% sure it’s really worth it — depending on the situation, of course. In one case, the money we spent on talent could very well have been saved for a better buy or media strategy. There was nothing that made the voice really stand out as much as the client thought.
But I do think it comes down to the talent, the brand and the opportunity.
The classic Horizon Airlines radio with Patrick Warburton and Richard Kind was perfectly cast. And, in my opinion, was well worth the money. I loved that work and the great talents of those two were what made it work.
And, for the record, I do love John Corbett and think that he is an amazing choice if you have the budget.
But for some work, going a different route may very well make sense. And, if budgets keep going south, this could be the opportunity.
All of this is clearly theoretical. In practice, it’s incredibly difficult to predict if and how this change could happen — and which brands and agencies decide to trim the talent budget and end up hiring people like us. Could it be driven by talent agents or talent as well?
As voice talent, though, it is an interesting proposition because it would be pretty cool to get some more of these chunky jobs in the door again.
And I hope that all of you get a chance to grab some of these gigs along the way if it happens.