Tara Tyler Tara Tyler is a voice actress and is the Former Head of Communications for Voice123.com. Follow her on Twitter @TaraTylerVO.

Non-Union to Union: How to do it and why

2 min read

Voice123 Voice Actor Dude Walker

Today’s post is from SAG-AFTRA Voice Actor and Voice123 premium member, Dude Walker. He graciously invited me to attend an online meeting of his voice over group to answer some questions about Voice123. What I found out from this meeting, is that many Union members feel that Voice123 is not a good resource for them due to the lack of union job postings. While, yes, the vast majority of voice over projects posted on Voice123 are marked as non-union, Dude has been able to convert those jobs to meet union requirements. I asked Dude if he could tell us how he does it and I was shocked at how simple his answer was!

Converting Non-Union Voice Over Projects to Union

by Dude Walker

If you’ve ever responded to a Voice123 audition request, you’ve probably noticed the “Union Requirements” heading is many times followed by the phrase,The voice seeker is willing to hire either union or non-union talents for this project.”

So, if you’re non-union, it’s business as usual. But, what if you are a union member, like in my case, SAG-AFTRA? Many voice seekers indicate they’ll hire Union members, but list a budget well below union rates for their project. Most of the time, clients aren’t trying to coerce members to work non-Union or trying to be cheap, they simply aren’t familiar with what working with Union talent entails. Converting a “non-union job” into a “union job” is really not as difficult as some have made it out to be.

Negotiating the Budget

The first hurdle is the aforementioned budget. Here’s an example: Let’s say the quote is $100 for an Industrial Narration. Honestly, anything that low is probably not worth pursuing. However, if the budget is $500 – now maybe you can talk to this client! As of this writing, the scale for a Category 1 Industrial voice over that requires an hour or less in studio is $401.  You should add to that the necessary fees for Pension & Health, Taxes and Paymaster and your total cost to the client totals $563.41 — not that far from original budget the client posted!

Maybe I’ve been lucky, but I’ve never had a client choose my audition and then balk at an additional $63.41. But, you must be honest up front, before production begins, what the full fee will be – no surprises. In your auditioning remarks, it is up to you whether or not you bring up your union membership status. I usually just keep it short and sweet, just my contact info and some info about my capabilities. My fee is what it is and the client really doesn’t even have to know I’m union unless I want them to.

Collecting Payment

As a Union talent, you should have a good working relationship with at least one signatory paymaster. For most of them, all they need is a contact name and an email address in order to send your client an invoice. The client simply receives and pays this invoice as usual; there’s no production reports or other paperwork to fill out for them. Pretty easy.

Although only a small percentage of Voice123 members are Union, there’s no reason the website can’t be a valuable resource for them as well. I’m proof. Good luck!

You can find out more about Dude and hear his work at http://www.dudewalker.com/

Tara Tyler Tara Tyler is a voice actress and is the Former Head of Communications for Voice123.com. Follow her on Twitter @TaraTylerVO.

3 Replies to “Non-Union to Union: How to do it and why”

  1. Yes I too am a union member, “vested” which means I’ve met the union requirements for pensions and health insurances, dental, life, etc. I’ve been a member of SAG and AFTRA (now merged) since 1872! I started as a studio (jingle) singer and “morphed” into a voice over artist in about 1979. It is being a wonderful career. The Dallas scene, where I live, is not known for studio singing anymore…ikt used to be third in the nation until about 1990 or so when several huge production firms ceased operations. There still is some music here but frankly, that’s a “young person’s” field mostly, those who sound like Britney Spears or any of the popular recording artists. In my studio days, we were six and seven voice group singers mostly, had to read music well, musically trained. Nowadays, that’s unimportnat. But I just want to add how much I agree that yes, union actors can indeed work through Voice 123. I’ve been a 123 member since it’s founding way back in 2000! Love it and recommend it to everyone. I’m also a voice coach who has started many many follks in the voice biz over the years. Would love to hear from you at btzol@apl.com. Alll best and “hang in there!”
    Bettye Zoller

  2. Thank you, Dude (I love that name), for posting this. I am a union member myself who has, for the most part, been very happy with my experiences on Voice123. A huge chunk of my work comes from non-signatory clients, who I am able to accept work from by using a paymaster as a third-party signatory. In particular, I would recommend a payroll company called “Falcon Paymasters.” They’re super-easy to work with!

  3. Great advice Izzy! I do have a couple things I’d like to add. Specifically to address the issue of flutter echo (the echo you addressed in your post) so you can achieve a dry (echo-free, ‘empty void’) recording. Thanks for sharing.

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