Wow! What a rough and tumble past couple of years it’s been! Economies all over the world continue to flail about. The housing market continues to slump, unemployment and inflation keep rising, and the almighty dollar will most likely not be so mighty in the near future. Keeping your head above water in a down economy is a struggle to say the least –ask your parents or grandparents and they’ll tell you the horror stories — and it often changes the way everything is done. That includes the world of voiceovers.
Voice talents everywhere are fighting right now to get as many gigs as they can just to stay liquid. Discounted rates and special packages are being offered more and more in an effort to bring on new potential customers.
Not unlike nature itself, we historically see economies go in big cycles from good to bad and eventually back to good. If a particular area becomes too populated, Mother Nature has its own merciless method of “thinning the herd” with fires, floods, disease, etc. Most likely (and this might actually be a good thing), the same can be said for the world of voice-overs. An overly-saturated marketplace can be just as harmful to sections of the economy as over-population is to nature. Ultimately, the advantage will go to voice over talents that are able to stick with it through the bad times.
As the unemployment factor continues to raise its ugly head, we voice over talents should consider ourselves lucky that we’re in the industry we are in. If you take a look at the Great Depression for example, you’ll find that a handful of industries still did well. Or, at least alright. The entertainment industry was one of these. Even when things are at their worst, the masses still want to be entertained. In fact, people will want it even more when times are tough, because it’s an escape from their dreadful reality.
In addition, some of the smart businesses will actually ramp up their marketing to bring in new customers in a messy economy, rather than conserve. What that means to us is, of course, more business for the working voice over artist. At the same time, however, conducting business during financial upheaval also usually means lower rates. Companies and organizations may still need voice over work, but they’ll be less likely to offer you the same monies you received for your services when times were better. So what’s the key to staying alive? Be flexible. Bend with the wind.
With this economy, the savvy voice talent might look at expanding their usual services to include production of the spots/promos they’re asked to voice. They may also want to include items of entertainment value, such as humorous character voices and parodies, comedy copy writing or perhaps even fully produced “radio theatre” bits. The savvy talent should also consider posting more competitive rates and increasing what is included with those rates. So what if you’re only getting $25 for a:30 voice over rather than $50 or $100 like you used to. Something’s better than nothing, isn’t it?
To survive in the end, you must bend. Adapt your voiceover business to fit the current environment and stay working!