It’s all about publicity and goodwill, right?
Voiceovers and Charity
There once was a voice talent named Jack
who loved to promote his knack
To clients that we’d love to whack
due to expectations that are whack.
This poem has been brought to you as a courtesy by the Universal Collective Of Voiceover Artists Saddened And In Fact Maddened By Clients Promising Great Exposure And Wonderful Goodwill Resulting From Free Services, otherwise known as The UCOVASAIFMBCPGEAWGRFFS. We’ve had enough, and we’re letting the world know. That’s our blimp you may have seen overhead, with various non-profit representatives dangling precariously from it by dental floss, screaming their heads off.
They’re out there. Those wonderful clients who promise us that they have somehow managed to arrange, with only the flick of their magic wand and some delightfully Harry Potter-esque incantations (Expecto petronum, anyone?), for the entire universe to bend to our will once we agree to sign on the dotted line. The dotted line of course following legalese that reads as follows:
I, The Voice Artist stated herein, hereby acknowledge that Client stated herein does not actually possess the art of sorcery stated herein and is in no way able to guarantee a massive onslaught of business stated herein resulting from my participation in project stated herein, performed at my goodwill because I’m generous as stated herein and Client appealed to my better nature as stated herein and I liked the smell of their perfume and was also drunk off my rocker and hey did you spike my drink and *giggle* I love unicorns, as stated herein.
Whenever I’m approached by a client who is asking if I can participate in a project at zero or minimal cost, my modus operand us is to reply with a chortle and snort and ask them:
- “What happened with giving this year?”
- “Don’t you still pay your CEO?” And my favorite...
- “What are you smoking, and may I have some?”
Seriously though. Did their donor base evaporate? Did someone spread the malicious rumor that I’ve stopped eating and have chosen to live itinerantly in a forest somewhere, subsisting on a solid diet of nuts and berries, so I don’t need any of your silly money? Did that Christian ministry’s donor base disappear because The Rapture happened, and I missed it because I was watching Deal or No Deal? Curse you, Howie.
Thank goodness I only need 2300 “Exposures” each month to pay my mortgage
We’ve all seen the cartoon where someone is promised lots of exposure in exchange for their unbilled voiceover participation. The proposer makes his proposal - which unfortunately does not include an expensive engagement ring which the voice talent could then sell to pay for the money that she will most certainly not be making from her participation – and the voice talent replies, “Thank goodness I only need 2300 ‘Exposures’ each month to pay my mortgage!”
It’s that simple. ‘Exposure’ doesn’t pay bills. And like Paul Strikwerda outlines in his wonderful book “Making Money in Your PJ’s”, those promises of massive exposure and an endless stream of resulting work are never fulfilled. They are about as reliable as Kanye West refraining from interrupting a Taylor Swift acceptance speech.
Unfortunately, I need to foolishly squander money on food and heat now, good sir.
Oh those “Save the Children” ads. They tug at our heartstrings. They evoke sympathy and compassion the world over. And they’re using our voice to do it! So basically, since it’s my voice that’s making your viewers cry (I'm not sorry), then isn’t it just and right that I have a right to just demand a good solid wage for my tear-inducing performance? Or is it the expectation that because you are 501(c)-3 status, that my participation must therefore be a goodwill donation or you’ll employ a guilt trip the size of Texas? People with such expectations make me want to harm small animals. They are the type that believe biweekly means twice a week, spell it “your” when it’s “you’re”, and refuse to go swimming in their backyard pool after dusk because, you know, sharks.
Let’s zoom out on this one and go with a practical example. A company approaches you and requests you to voice their script for a “good cause.” Assuming that putting food on your table for your starving and emaciated children is not a good cause in its own right, they suggest that you do the project for free, making several reward-based promises to you, examples of which include:
- Free admission to Heaven
- Near-celebrity status
- A sense of reinforced nobility
- Endless esteem
- A bounty of future work just waiting to roll towards you like that great big boulder chasing Indiana Jones out of the cave.
What they fail to tell you is that with #5, you’ll face blow-darts whizzing past your head, yawning caverns opening at your feet for a precipitous fall towards deadly stalagmites, and adorable tarantulas to take home as pets. But you’ll still do it for us, won’t you? Have you no heart??? What about the chhhiiiiilllllldddddreennnnn?????
Unfortunately, charity jobs won’t feed my (emaciated) chhhiiiiilllllldddddreennnnn, you silly twit.
Here’s how we get ‘em back
While giving to charity is a noble pursuit, the art of crazymaking is equally noble. And I’m going to help you with some payback, so good luck! Here we go.
Since the dawn of time:
- cavemen have always intentionally left the toilet seat up to harass their cavewomen.
- Neanderthals of each gender have purposefully left the cover off of the toothpaste, forcing their mate to cry out “Grunt grunt grrrrrrrrrunt!!!!!!!! Gr-grunt-gr-grunt! Now GRUNT!! And don’t come back until you’ve learned English!”
- Husbands stay out late and offer weak work-based reasons like “I’m sleeping over at my secretary’s house to get some work done” because they’re brilliant, highly intellectual and skilled at crafting convincing, innocuous excuses.
- Wives hide the remotes so that husbands go certifiably insane
- Husbands in turn hide the knowledge that they have in fact gone insane
- Teenage kids hide their parents when their friends come over
And you better believe that children have a sinister grasp of crazymaking instinctively from the start. I am not making this up. My 4-year-old takes wee tiny bites out of his Chicken McNuggets to pacify my unreasonable requirement that he eat. (Thus the emaciation mentioned earlier). Such lackluster commitment! So I go crazy and yell. I paid for those so you better eat them. Why can’t you be a carnivore like Mommy and Daddy? You kids these days. Why when I was your age, I was 9. Then the tears come, and I get to roll my eyes and go play Call of Duty and do things to people.
In voiceovers, it’s no different. So I will offer you some solutions.
Anytime a client approaches you for a free contribution to their paid project – and they will, because A) it’s for a good cause, and B) guilt trips are fun, I recommend one of these two highly effective solutions:
- If in the presence of said client, slowly take two paces back, and one pace to the left. Cock the head in a slow circle, and bend your knees. Arching your back in true rooster-form, simply yell out at the top of your lungs, “Stroganoff is uplifting with calculus and makes me free like a beaver on the slopes!” The client, having no insight as to why you would exhibit such behavior or declare such nonsense, will back away perplexed as you hold your pose and gaze heavenward, fist upheld in solidarity with your fellow voice talent who are also being stiffed by charity peoples. This, my friend, is the surest and most guaranteed way to make freeloaders leave you alone. They’ll make like Fleetwood Mac and go their own way. Their no-pay-for-your-skills request made no sense; thus, deservedly so, an equally senseless reply from you is fitting. And you will be the better for it.
- If communication takes place over the Internet only, simply hit the “My time is valuable, block this nincompoop” button, and hit enter to confirm.
There now is a voice talent named Jack
who grew smart about promoting his knack
To clients who have his back
and send lots of money in a stack.
Good luck! (As stated herein.)
HEY. WAIT JUST A S.E.C.!
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Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Talent for hire
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