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November 22, 2006

So, Where Do I Punch In?

I recently ran across a blog comment in response to Wil Wheaton's weigh-in on the SAG voice-actor pay increase in 2005:

"I don't agree with the voice actors getting paid more, They get paid roughly $130 an hour or more, thats a $270,000 a year job - which antiquates to more than most programmers and developers, who, as been pointed out, do tremendously more work on a day on average than ANY voice actor — nobodies voice is worth that much in my opinion and forming unions to go raise pricing is only going to cause more game developers to start using their own talent — with the diversity of a game company they could pull anyone off the street to do these voice overs, even their own developers and CSR's could accomplish this simplistic task. When you make less than $80,000 a year on average then come and bitch to us programmers. Spoiled little hollywood brats."

And here I am, all this time, railing against the misperception that voice artists work 50+ hours a week and get paid beaucoup bucks for every second; turns out we really are six-figure earners (who, incidentally, don't deserve it and are replaceable by anyone off the street at any time).

I can't seem to find the address of the company where one applies for this job, but it must be out there. He said so.

The mind, it boggles. It's one thing for your average person to carry the above assumption; the general public tends to think of "actors" only in terms of those they see and hear on TV and in movies. The huge salaries commanded by these visible performers are public knowledge in most cases, making it easy to syllogize "actors  = overpaid". Our dear blog-poster, one infers from the nature of the post, seems to be a current or former game programmer. While it may be true that nuts-and-bolts coders tend to interact relatively little with the post-production end of things, I still find it surprsing that someone who works in the gaming industry could be so willfully clueless about the nature of a voice actor's work. He's welcome to his woefully misguided opinion that voiceover work is "simplistic", but how on earth does he come to believe that any voice actor gets to ply his simplistic trade for 8 to 10 hours a day, every single day? (Even belonging to SAG or any other performing union only guarantees your hourly rate; it doesn't promise that much work, or any amount of work, for that matter.)

To the contrary: most voiceover artists I know --- whether they're union or non-union, or whether they work in animation, games, narration, commercials, or any combination thereof --- would be thrilled beyond words to annually earn $80,000 USD strictly from voice work. The reality, as I've noted before, is that 90% of voice actors make very little money --- and most of the remaining ten percent who do earn a living are still nowhere near the "filthy rich" category. Without wishing to turn this into a political piece, methinks our poster is engaging in a bit of union-bashing...and that this concern overrides any common sense or logic which might otherwise have been present. Regardless of one's stance on performing unions, willful stupidity is not an effective to way to make your argument.

P.S. In fact, many voice artists do work 50 or more hours a week...at marketing their services. At last check, however, none of these folks were pulling in $130 an hour at that particular job.

P.P.S. I also wasn't aware that "antiquate" and "equate" are now synonyms. You truly learn something new every day.

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November 15, 2006

VO Sites: Peter O'Connell

A recent phone chat with voice talent Peter O'Connell was gratifying and fun; I'm still honored that a seasoned vet like Peter would solicit my advice on marketing (or any other aspect of voiceover), as I've solicited his on occasion. Peter's also my Tiger's Quest castmate, and his presence certainly helped lend professionalism and experience to an already fun project.

Check out his recently-revamped site and blog; a definite keeper for your bookmarks.


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