Saturday, April 19, 2008

Because I Can

I started this blog a year and a half ago because I missed having an outlet for my thoughts after more than a decade spent on the radio sharing my life. I try to be helpful, and I try to give a glimpse into the life of one voice actor building a business. Lately, there's been something on my mind- and I've decided to write about delicately as possible. As I tend to do, I'll be comparing two opposite thoughts in the hopes that the comparison will sell my point.

I've had my Blue Point Birman cat, Xen, for 9 years now. He is one of those cats with a huge personality that everyone loves because he is so beautiful. One of the things I love most about him, is his ability to constantly push my buttons. He will do anything and everything to get my attention.

Case in point...most mornings I wake up in a very strange position on the bed. My head is not on the pillow, and I am often contorted down near the foot of the bed. Why? Because as soon as my husband leaves for work in the morning, Xen starts slowly pushing me off my pillow. Because I am asleep, I don't even realize it's happening. He will lick my forehead, claw at my hair, lightly bite me...anything to get me to inch by inch move away from my pillow. Once he is successful, he stretches out like a King across my pillow and sleeps the morning away. What makes this so funny, is that we have dozens of pillows in the house that Xen could choose to sleep on. He could even take over my husband's pillow once he is gone. However, Xen has a point to prove- he takes my pillow for the simple reason that he can.

What Xen doesn't understand is that we both lose when he does this. I spend the morning trying to get my pillow back, and both of our sleep is disturbed because of it...nothing is gained by this little competition.

OK- here comes the comparison to voice over. I've noticed some major jobs popping up on the pay to play sites lately with extremely low budgets. EXTREMELY low budgets. They are jobs we would all want to have, but at the rates posted, I am amazed that anyone goes for them.

I believe when one voice actor takes a national job for the price of a local commercial, it hurts all of us- including the actor that accepted the job. Sure, they can promote the fact that they booked a huge gig, but does that tiny perk outweigh the overall damage done?

Those of us with many years under our belt as voice actors have always said the client will get what they pay for. If they offer considerably less money than they should, they will only be able to book a less than stellar voice. Sadly, in the last few weeks I've noticed that isn't the case. Decent actors seem to be taking these jobs to have something to promote. It's a short term gain for them in exchange for a long term loss to the voice acting community.

Much like my cat Xen, once he learned that he could push me off my pillow...he continued to do so. If clients are able to find decent voices for small budgets, then the rest of us will suffer. I do not blame the client for this. If I could build a great house for a fourth the price, I would!

Personally, I refuse to drop my rates for any job. Why? Because I've spent thousands of dollars on great equipment, voice coaches, training, website, etc, etc. Voice actors have a larger overhead than most would expect, and I need to maintain my rates to profit.

Plus, I know I'm worth it. So, I'll continue to fight Xen for my pillow, and I'll continue to audition for jobs that are willing to pay the fair rates. I believe if we all maintain the same integrity, in the end- we will all win.

I'd like to add, I did not write this blog to ruffle any feathers. Nor do I think I am going to change the way anyone operates. However, if one person just getting into the business reads this and decides to stick to the fair rates...then I will have succeeded in my mission.


Joe said...


Very good blog. Though I'm wondering why the pay-for-play sites are even letting these gigs through. I saw one come through the other day for $30!

Joe Szymanski

Kara Edwards said...


I agree- it is upsetting what a few folks are willing to accept as payment for their gifts. The ones that really get me are the national spots listed with low budgets. However, as long as there are talent willing to accept it, things are not going to change. Thank you for your comment!


Daniel Loth said...


An interesting read, and yeah, you're spot on.
A martial artist is only as good as his or her mindset - if they look intimidated, then the fight is already over.
Likewise, something sold cheap could lose its value forever.

If the actors in question are new, then I can at least understand their rationale.
I've heard (technically read) about just how hard it can be to 'get your foot in the door' in the VO business.


Brian said...

Without question, RIGHT ON THE MONEY (pun intended). Your blog entry title was "Because I Can" and I would like to conclude my post by offering an ending title:

"Because You Should" (you should have written about it because others should hear this point and they should consider the truth that it contains)

Brian in Charlotte

Kara Edwards said...


I studied martial arts for many years, so I know what you are saying! I agree- for the smaller jobs, one does have to get their foot in the door. However, using big national jobs at drastically reduced rates to further ones career does not help anyone.

Thank you for your comment!

Kara Edwards said...


You are an inspiration for all talent who question at one time or another if they should take less money for big jobs. I know you have been willing to say no more than once! Thank you for your comment!


AFN Broadcaster said...

Kara...what a funny take on a serious problem. Not to get too nerdy...but do you think this all ties into the bigger economic picture? Everyone except for Shell and Exxon are losing money. FAST! In order for these companies to make a profit, they have to cut somewhere. Your cat and pillow story while funny, almost sounds like supply amd demand.
Enough nerdy talk...My son says there is going to be a new Dragon Ball movie...are you going to be involved???