These days, it’s really not that easy staying in business if you hire voice-actors and don’t pay them. The internet simply provides too many platforms for exposure, and ‘naming and shaming’ sites are continually making an appearance—in addition to some well-established ones that carry considerable clout in the marketplace.
If you’re careful and do your research on a prospective client, non-payment should be a non-issue. While the adage ‘once bitten, twice shy’ may apply to most of us, there’s no reason why it should. There’s no reason why you can’t learn from others’ mistakes!
When you’re working with a client for the first time, I would suggest 50% of the budget paid upfront with the remainder at completion of work.
Even if you may be facing a potential non-payment situation, be persistent. Email the person who hired you. If that person was a go-between, email the company. Let them know:
- The date production was finished.
- The date payment was promised.
- Email correspondence in which payment was discussed.
- Any other relevant information you think should be mentioned.
Always keep records of what you are doing.
Be nice in your correspondence. While it might be tempting to breathe fire, the smoke-and-sulphur approach rarely works. Carefully try to get the payment process flowing again. Here’s an example of an email we know worked and the voice-actor involved was paid. Notice how the email focuses on ‘the goal of the email’ and not the ‘Law & Order’ drama and emotion behind it:
I am writing you in regards to (voice-actor) whom you hired for project (insert name). The purpose of this email is simply to reconnect you both because we understand that payment had not yet been completed. We firmly believe in community harmony among members of the voice industry. Would you be so kind as to resolve this payment issue, and let me know when everything is sorted? If you have any questions, please let me know!
Remember that more often than not, emails with a threatening and aggressive tone either scare people away, or lead them to think: ‘bring it on!’
It’s equally worth remembering that because the intellectual property rights will only become the clients’ once you’ve been paid, one can subtly remind them of this! If you really get stuck and your client refuses to pay you, consider a lawyer or a collection agency—provided the amount of money involved makes such a step worth it.
The Internet is a great equalizer for truth, and those who choose to challenge or ignore this simple but absolute reality, will soon find their business in trouble. There are always rotten apples in any business. Spot them and ignore them.