Experience Not The Pay, Right?
...and it will lead to more work down the line!
Experience over pay. It's sadly an all-too-common phrase you hear within certain industries. Especially in voice over And worse, it seems to be accepted in some cases.
Last week a video posted on Adweek's website was quite the buzz. It seemed to resonate for many people in creative fields such as advertising, PR, graphic design and, surprisingly enough, voice over. Yep, within an hour or so, many of my VO colleagues were posting this video all over social media. Pretty soon more and more people picked up on it and the video went viral. The gist was to show how people in non-advertising fields react to "working on spec for free." The results are quite amusing. Just watch and you'll see.
The outcome? Clearly advertising standards don't translate well to other professions. For good reason. Imagine asking a Barber for a free haircut or trim just to see if you'd like to continue using them in the future. If they did a less than satisfactory job, according to your standards, you wouldn't have to pay them and onto the next hair professional you go. Good luck getting out of the Barber shop alive! Imagine asking a lawyer to draft an agreement for you. It takes them a few days to get something nice and professional your way but y0u won't pay them for their time. Why? Because you would have worded it differently and it doesn't reflect the proper legal language. This was after all, spec work. Everyone wants to be sure they're hiring the right lawyer, the right barber or the right voice talent. We're all pressed for time, economically challenged, and want to get our money's worth. So asking someone to do some preliminary work for free to clear up any uncertainty is the answer?
Beggars can't be choosers.
So, when I first saw this article and watched the amusing video, I couldn't help but chuckle and then shortly after grimace at the day-to-day similarities we voice over talents face. In a sense, the process of auditioning can be almost seen as free spec work. We're "trying out" several scripts per day and not getting paid. However, that's more or less what actors sign on for. Auditioning is part of the job. If you don't like to audition, you should probably consider a new line of work. No voice actor is immune to this reality. (Well, some, perhaps). And producers see it differently: "She has the sound we want from listening to her demo but she'll need to read it a few times so we get a sense. Let's not spend our money just yet!" They want to be sure. But do we have the the luxury of someone else's subjective opinion, indecision? And at what cost? Is all this "experience" really getting us paid?
Nudd, Tim. "Watch People In Other Industries React Hilariously To Being Asked For Free Spec Work" Adweek, 5 Nov 2015. Web. 6 Nov 2015