Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What ever happened to ad agencies paying for client demos?

Gee, I'm sure someone has ranted on this before, but it just struck me again this morning as I viewed an audition that was sent my way via an online voice over site. The "voice seeker" specified, "If you have to place an audio watermark, please make it a small beep or noise, we can't show our client VO with another music bed underneath or wrong words. Thanks for your time! Good luck! "

Ok, we get tons of auditions like these, but obviously, the client intends to pitch his/her idea using at least one of the auditions he/she receives. We can protect ourselves by using a watermark to their specs to keep it from airing (hopefully), but sounds like it will still be used as a client "demo".

We used to get paid for client "demos". There are AFTRA and SAG rates in place for client demos and even non-union agents will charge a demo rate (I hope). I still do work for major agencies who pay demo rates for animatics, etc. But out here in cyberspace without an agent to follow up or in the case of non-union projects (which most of these are) without a union to enforce the rates, voice over talent are giving away free client demos on a daily basis. Sure, you can pass on the audition. Sure you can just give them a portion of the spot (which I often do instead of watermarking), but does that just cut you out of the running for the "real" spot right from the start? Probably.

It all boils down to our knowledge of and willingness to accept these types of auditions. I'm sure it's happened ever since talent agents created sound booths in their offices for auditions. What was delivered to the ad agency may not have been the most pristine audio, but it could service for a client demo - and I'm sure many have. The only way you know for sure is when the ad agency books studio time and your time specifically to record a demo. Otherwise, you, as a professional voice over talent, have to try to take care of yourself when sending out air quality audio auditions!