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Who's starving?
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10231

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:20 am    Post subject: Who's starving? Reply with quote

Had a look at my who, where,when, why statistics. The numbers are simply numbers and have no opinions, make no judgements but do inform.

This for me was the "mmmmmm interesting!"

No work, so no income from my voiceover representation in the USA since early November 2017. I'm ok and far from starving but sincerely hope their other artists are doing better. By contrast I hit my personal income target for this year in May.

UK agent, amongst other things a couple of very nice national TV commercials.

European agent. 184 jobs including some fabby TV ads

Unless I am missing something, I don't appear to be the problem
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todd ellis
A Zillion


Joined: 02 Jan 2007
Posts: 9574
Location: little egypt

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i have been quite happy this year. i covered my annual nut & maxed out my 401k sooner than i ever have - in july (having taken most of june off). it actually surprised me when i sat down to do the math. more work from old clients, new clients reeled in & a bonus "here ya go" every now & then that tied it all together.

i will say that for a long, long time, i had no idea what was coming in & what was going out. my finances flowed over & around the rocks and, somehow, i paid the bills, taxes & private school tuition ... but i really had no clue HOW i did all that. after a massive financial scare a few years ago i decided i was a stupid, stupid person. i read & learned then implemented smarter ways of doing business than "i have money, let's buy that!" a little discipline made all the difference. i live in the country and "stuff" costs less here. true, there are fewer opportunities than in the big city, but ... i hate the big city.
i still have far more guns & ammo than i need ... but i HAVE pared down to only 5 different calibers.
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Bob Bergen
Lucky 700


Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 755

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now, I come from the actorís perspective. I think this is both a geographic philosophy as well as just a pure professional actor philosophy.

1) An actor never discusses finances, what they earn, or how well off they are. This is just considered vulgar in the world of professional acting.

2) Never compare yourself with other artists. Too many variables from location, to skill set, relationships, drive, etc.

It is beyond hard for a US agent to rep talent living abroad in the way they rep domestic talent. They are also more hands on with local talent than out of state talent. This is not to say out of town talent havenít done well with these agents. But itís the exception, not the norm. And depending on the agent, non union talent will not see the kind of agent representation as the union talent. And vice versa.

Everything I do is through my agent. Now, I do market and nurture old and new relationships. But my agent does the heavy lifting. Itís a collaboration. But they have a vital place in my career, handling specifics I havenít a clue how to do, nor do I want to do, let alone learn to do.

But every talent is different. What my career demands demands I have an agent. And an agent of a certain level. And, my career demands I live where I do. I would LOVE to live elsewhere! No can do. None of this is necessary for the majority pursuing vo today throughout the world.
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10231

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It could be the case that my point was missed so I'll try again in a more formal way.

I appear to be marketable to 6.7 billion people by those who make their living by so doing but not by one person in the USA who claims to be able so to do. No blame, back story or reasons required by me. That's what happened. My stoicism is such that numbers and the reasons for the numbers have no emotional hold over me, they're just numbers.

Posting, without evidence to support the claim is appropriate. I see no numbers or income claims, just facts establishing that one area of weakness or simply mismatch has been accurately identified.

I didn't need to post anything, I chose to post. To brag? No, no one cares. Someone may read what I have written and be prompted to look at their numbers in order to see what is working and what isn't. If anyone ever asks me for guidance it usually results in my encouraging them to stop doing something and use the resources elsewhere.
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todd ellis
A Zillion


Joined: 02 Jan 2007
Posts: 9574
Location: little egypt

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
None of this is necessary for the majority pursuing vo today throughout the world.


thanks for saying so, bob! obviously, not always so. my 1st studio cost me thousands to build: reel-to-reels, outboard ... everything! frikkin' TAPE! it's "easy" now ... even though it's "not".

the bit about breaking even comes from a post here a few years ago (philip, probably) that made me think REALLY hard about how i was running my business & had real-life impact on how i manage - well --- all of the above. i rarely talk finances - but because someone did - it helped me.
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Dave Waters
Contributor II


Joined: 01 Jan 2011
Posts: 58
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bob Bergen wrote:

1) An actor never discusses finances, what they earn, or how well off they are. This is just considered vulgar in the world of professional acting.

And yet, you find yourself involved in just such a discussion. Wink
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Dave Waters
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Bob Bergen
Lucky 700


Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 755

PostPosted: Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dave Waters wrote:
Bob Bergen wrote:

1) An actor never discusses finances, what they earn, or how well off they are. This is just considered vulgar in the world of professional acting.

And yet, you find yourself involved in just such a discussion. Wink


Thatís your takeaway? My point is the vulgarity of discussing oneís own finances. Not the topic of finances. What you make, how good your year is, how bad your year is, where you make your money, etc.
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10231

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few years ago at VOX in the UK I was chatting to a former radio DJ turned VO. He told me how things had changed for him. A few big clients had vanished and the pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap local radio ad market had mutated into a sell 'em cheap (UK Actors Union Equity minimum rate) but no volume. Home was at risk and he had run out of things to sell.

Yer man was good at what he did and was marketable.

"Try this" I began, then explained what I did, how I did it and how it worked adding how much he should charge. "Just focus on that!"

12 months later, back at VOX again yer man greeted me warmly and we chatted about life the universe and everything. I'd forgotten about our exchange the previous year. He hadn't and he explained what had happened. Family fed and clothed, house secure and business trotting along very nicely. What happened? He told me that he simply acted on my suggestion which started "Try this".
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juliaknippen
Club 300


Joined: 25 Nov 2012
Posts: 335
Location: NYC

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

todd ellis wrote:
i rarely talk finances - but because someone did - it helped me.


Same. Because of someone else's generosity of sharing the vulgarities of their finances and how they are managed, I was empowered to take control of mine.
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Her Voice Will Grow on You
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todd ellis
A Zillion


Joined: 02 Jan 2007
Posts: 9574
Location: little egypt

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

listen - bob lives in a very different world than most of the rest of us. it's like a reverse "caddy shack" around here. bob, i picture you sitting by your pool way up on the hill watching me fill the bed of my truck with water from the hose. you have a different perspective - it doesn't make either of us wrong - just different. i'm here where the mississippi & the ohio meet scratching VO work from the formerly coal-strewn hills - i picture bob bergen in LA, tossing the valet his keys and swallowing the last of his $14 coffee before jogging into a session among all the adoring fans. now - i KNOW that's not reality - but it IS perception and it IS two very different mindsets. bob - PLEASE do not take any of this as a derision - i think two of the most giving, helpful people on this board are bob bergen & philip banks - two more different business philosophies you will never find - but two really nice guys. i've learnd a great deal from what philip writes ... what i understand of it, and i have gained great insights from bob as well - and i greatly appreciate all you do, bob, for the voiceover community within the walls of the union.

oh --- and dave? that was a cheap shot.
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Last edited by todd ellis on Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:04 am; edited 1 time in total
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juliaknippen
Club 300


Joined: 25 Nov 2012
Posts: 335
Location: NYC

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sincerely hope my gentle barb wasn't taken as derision. Bob Bergen is a kind, generous soul, a great talent, and an all-around good human. Please accept my apologies. I've been told I can come across as prickly.

I make my living as an NYC union commercial VO. I look and sound like a very young lady, but I'm a middle-aged woman who had many other careers before this one. I think being transparent about finances and income and rates and business practices can only help to lift each other up.

If we're to have open conversations, they need to go both ways.
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Philip Banks
Je Ne Sais Quoi


Joined: 20 Jun 2005
Posts: 10231

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have hugged the above VO, probably more than once. She has no barbs or prickles.

SEE! I know sh*t!

BTW Card carrying member since 1994 (M00137218) of Equity, the union for British Actors.
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Bob Bergen
Lucky 700


Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 755

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some of y'all are twisting what I'm saying. Sharing how one manages their finances is not the issue. Qualifying it with, "I had the best year of my life and here's why" or specifically discussing what one earns, this is just tacky.

Of course one should manage their finances. And sure, share saving, investing, etc. But discussing one's income numbers and discussing how that is managed, we are talking two different things.


As I said before, any acting coach who discusses making money has always been considered a red flag. It's the sign of a charlatan. A snake oil salesman. "Study with me and you could earn upwards of," etc. The internet has become a cesspool of this, as more discuss making money at vo than craft.

In the 30 plus years I've been teaching never have I ever discussed what one can make. My workshop has a very long waitlist. I vet students based on their experience and also their expectations and reasons for taking the class. If they have zero acting training I advise they study acting and improv before ever investing in a vo class. If they tell me their reason to get into vo is to "bring in some additional income" or "I hear you can make some great money at vo" I set them straight. And, I put a lil mark next to their name on my list, which is my signal that when they contacted me their motives were financial, not create. Then, 4 years later when I get to their name to take the class, I get a feel for where their head is now. If it's changed, great! If not, my class is not for them. Beyond some contracted gigs, I cannot guarantee my own income. How could I possibly do this for someone else??

I do a zillion Q&As on social media and various other workshops. All the talk online about earning, ROI, etc., has prompted someone to ask something along the lines of, "What was your highest earning year?" It's none of their business. Or they will ask, "What can one expect to make working in vo?" "I don't know! Somewhere in between zero and retirement."

All of this has created a generation of vo talent who begin to rely on vo prematurely to pay their bills. It's epidemic. This is not their fault. They are conditioned based on online conversations that this is all about making money. THAT is what is vulgar. Creating a mindset of financial expectations rather than striving to be a great actor. Seriously, until the internet no one ever discussed money at auditions or jobs.

Now, I do offer financial advice if asked. I always suggest to not even consider going full-time as a vo actor until you have at least 2 full years of living expenses saved. This includes rent/mortgage, insurance, food budget, utilities, everything. Live below your means, and even if full-time, save as much as you can each month and invest.

As an actor never think you are above needing another day job some day. Don't deplete your savings out of pride, crossing your fingers your dried up acting career will pick up. We all have to eat. But we don't have to do so by acting. It's that desperation/need to book to pay your bills that often perpetuates lowball offers. But that spiral has been conditioned by those on the internet who preach money over craft.
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Bruce
Boardmeister


Joined: 06 Jun 2005
Posts: 6921
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a gentle reminder that posts like the ones in this thread contain these voice actors' opinions based their experience. None of these are invalid nor are they gospel. As usual we should take what we find useful and pass over the rest.

Bless this diverse community!

B
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I'm not a Zoo, but over the years I've played one on radio/TV. .
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Bob Bergen
Lucky 700


Joined: 22 Apr 2008
Posts: 755

PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My ego enjoys the collective perception of my life and career. I cannot tell you how far off you are. But I will tell you that perception feeds success. Perception is an illusion of value. Perception does not have a union card, either. But perception is as strategically calculated and managed as oneís acting training.

.....and never would I pay $14 for a coffee! My limit is $13,75!
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