Rates are a very common discussion among voice actors. Whether it is a talent just starting out, or experienced professionals encountering a new type of project they’re being asked to quote that they’ve not done before, or others wanting to make sure that their quotes aren’t undercutting the market, it seems like this conversation is everywhere.
But often we ask our colleagues, consult existing rate guides and post in Facebook groups all while overlooking an excellent source of information on rates and how to negotiate them – your agents. Agents are a great resource to help you when you are struggling to figure out how to charge for something. After all, that’s what they do – evaluate and negotiate rates. All day, all the time.
Walking a good job into an agency can often be a leg-up in getting representation if you aren’t already signed. And if you are already on their roster, bringing your agent work is a great way to stay top of mind and build rapport. Also, it establishes a more collegial relationship based on trust between you and your agent. They don’t earn if you don’t earn, and the more motivated both of you are to bring in income, the better for the relationship.
Additionally, if talking rates with potential clients brings up all kinds of emotional blocks about bragging, or claiming your worth, an agent is the perfect representative to do that for you, and can often negotiate a higher rate than perhaps you would do for yourself, or find other ways to negotiate to better your position, (Shorter usage, no in-perpetuity, renewal options, etc).
HOWEVER…if you ask one of your existing agents for help with a rate, you have a duty to offer them the opportunity to handle that job for you out of respect for your relationship with them.
Furthermore, it is not right to expect your agents to give you rate advice for free. You are asking them to do their job for free when you ask for rate advice but don’t offer them the chance to negotiate on your behalf, and that’s no different than a client asking you to do a VO for free as a favor. So be sure that you respect their time and expertise and be willing to compensate them accordingly.
A good agency relationship can bring a whole new level of success to your business, well beyond the auditions they send your way. Don’t overlook opportunities to have talented negotiators on your side.