That might sound like a loaded question but it really isn’t. More and more VO talent are working with their producers on how they get paid for a job, how they can increase their chances of joining the union and also bringing more non-union work back into the union fold.
These days, VO talent are doing a lot more than just showing up for the booking. Now, they are running the booking from their own home studio and delivering the recording to the producers, both edited and finished. They are also managing their own invoices and making sure they get paid in a timely fashion. In other words, VO talent needs to know how to conduct business. It is becoming increasingly more important for talent to know all the ins and outs of how best to get the job done and create a relationship with the producer that should feel like a partnership.
One thing that is happening more and more is talent employing a union paymaster to handle payment for their bookings. A paymaster is a payroll company that is under union signatory to assume the obligations of payment to talent, which includes: salary, deductions, pension & health, agent percentages, residuals and tracking. These companies are used for any and all SAG-AFTRA jobs.
If a VO job is non-union, there is no paymaster involved and talent has to invoice the producer in order to be paid. However, if you are a non-union talent hired to voice a non-union job, you can approach the producer about using a paymaster, especially if you’d like to become eligible to join the union and receive better wages. But, before you present this option to a producer, you need to do some research to know exactly what this process entails so you can make this option seem like the better choice. Some producers may not be interested but I suggest you arm yourself with information about SAG-AFTRA paymasters as much as you can in order to plead your case. Our colleagues, Lotas Productions, are a union paymaster. You can contact them to get the information you need before approaching a producer. Other companies, including Talent Partners, can be helpful and are easy to contact via the web.
What is the value of employing a union paymaster? Not only does it get you better wages and create eligibility for union membership, it gives you the opportunity to present yourself as a fully knowledgeable businessperson who can work with producers on all aspects of the job. It’s just another step towards taking control of your career and single-handedly moving it forward.