Is there a hidden link between price and perception?
Do we get what we are paying for?
Are we more satisfied when we’ve paid top dollar?
On January 14th, 2008, a team a of scientists from the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University, published a paper called:
“Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness.”
It was the result of research I would have loved to be part of. The hypothesis was that…
Curt Palmer says
Paul- Excellent blog post. This is something that figures to get worse, not better. That is, unless and until others who value their professionalism and their ability to distinguish themselves from the herd put their feet down. Does that mean the serious VO talent will get less work? Perhaps in the short term. But what kind of work would they be getting anyway? And is that the kind that is sustainable? I suppose it’s like anything else in the world of capitalism, supply and demand will dictate much of the terms. Nonetheless, if you’ve put a lot of effort, training, dedication into your VO services, you have a right- and an obligation- to ask for a reasonable fee. Just my 2 cents! Again, excellent article. Thanks.
steve hammill says
If many people work for peanuts, peanuts is the going rate.
As I read more and more of your posts, Paul, I’m surprised you haven’t become active in trying to revitalize AFTRA/SAG or start a new union.
I always had a love/hate relationship with AFTRA/SAG, but they got us paid enough that we could make the rent. The hate part had to do with the union’s unwillingness to do business; I had a phone patch studio in 1981 and they just didn’t get it…and they’re just starting to get it now.
You should organize a union/coalition/artisan’s cooperative or something like that; you might make a difference.
Rebecca Michaels says
The elephant in the room is eating peanuts. Thanks AGAIN for pointing out the elephant in the room, Paul.
I’m upset after reading this article only because I have also traveled this road and feel reminded all too clearly of the unfortunate reality freelancers face, among them us – the VO artists.
When I first realized that Odesk, Craigslist and other similar sites first had a few jobs for VO but then generally the folks posting want dirt-cheap services, I stopped looking there. I also write, and saw the cheap offers of cents per article … this all was summed up in a different way – relating in a completely different perspective but if you ponder it a bit, a similar dilemma – in a Wired magazine article called ‘The Good Enough Revolution’… which summed it all up by saying our culture is becoming satisfied with something affordable but ‘good enough’. Perhaps this is something I’ll ponder a bit more and write about in my own blog.
Thanks again Paul.
Twitter & LinkedIn: RebeccaMichaels
Paul Strikwerda says
Becoming active in the Union… Funny you should mention that, Steve! I just became a member…. of the freelancers union (http://www.freelancersunion.org).
The way I see it, this is more about asking colleagues to educate themselves. It’s about leading horses to the water. Graphic designers, IT-people, translators, copy writers… freelancers everywhere are dealing with the same issues. If we don’t set higher standards for ourselves, why should AFTRA go to battle for us?
On one level you’re right: “If many people work for peanuts, peanuts is the going rate.” James Goldsmith said: “If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”
On another level you’re not. Not everybody drinks wine out of boxes. There’s a market for Rolex. We have to ask ourselves the question: do we want to be a Rolex or a rip-off? Time will tell!
steve hammill says
>>>There’s a market for Rolex. We have to ask ourselves the question: do we want to be a Rolex or a rip-off?
The VO equivalent of the Rolex marketplace is not populated by the rank ‘n file VO. For the most part it is the domain of big box office film stars, top sports figures and luminaries from other areas of life. Then there is the subset of this group that may actually be gifted at VO work who do well even though their star is not quite as bright.
Ascending from the rank ‘n file to the Rolex level achieved by the late Don LaFontaine is a serious case of “you can’t get there from here” in today’s marketplace.
Can it can be accomplished today? Maybe.
The difference between Rolex and Seiko in your analogy probably has more to do business acumen, marketing skill, representation and work-making-luck than skill. Yes, the skill must be there, but it is not the defining attribute.
It is probably the reason that successful VO pick a market and become the BIG FISH in that smaller sea rather than trying to dominate the 7 seas.
John Baker says
Perceived value counts for a lot. Three months ago I upped my rate by a little over 60%. So far nobody has batted an eye. And I will actually be at or a little above the median income for the part of the country I live in this year.
Paul Strikwerda says
When I look at some of the online voice-over rate cards, I notice that many of them have not been updated for years. The cost of living has increased. Insurance premiums go up every year. Why aren’t these rate cards updated?
As independent contractors we can set our own rates, regardless of economic trends. I hope the people who are publicly posting that they’ll do any VO for $50 an hour take note of your comment. Thanks for sharing!