Michaela, in regards to some friends offering their services for free or not paying their teams in projects.
It bothers me when friends do things that they do AMAZINGLY well at for free. No matter if it’s to make a new connection with a company or project team or just doing it for the love of the hobby, you should be paid to do a service that someone else wants you to do. They do not have the skills to do it themselves, so they are hiring you to do it for them, so you should be paid.
"But Michaela, doing free work means more exposure! I can get more things on my resume if I do things for free!"
That is true to a point. I also used to be one of those people who did work for free. I got some good exposure, yes, but I wound up doing more 10 times more lines than what I anticipated, making recording times run longer than I could actually afford. I love voice acting, yes, but it costs time to do what I love to do. Mind you, 5-10 lines, depending on the length of each line, takes under 3-5 minutes and is no big deal, but anything beyond that deserves some sort of pay.
Also, if you keep doing free work, that is what will be expected of you for the rest of your career. You will be known as the free talent, only doing free work for projects for the sake of exposure or connection. If you do this long enough, NO ONE will expect to pay you and the minute you finally decide to charge for your services, ignorant producers who expected free work will turn complete 180 away from you and walk away.
"But Michaela, I’m not hurting anyone by doing free work!"
Not only will the expectation be there of you doing free work, but you will also lower the bar for others in your field. For Example, if you do free voice work for projects, then projects of the future will not see the need to spend money for your skill. It’s hard enough as a Voice Actor to get paying jobs that pay enough to make the gig worth our time. We already get underpaid 90% of the time in projects because Voice Acting has sadly become an ‘extra add-on’ that no one thinks about in projects. Don’t make the expectation of us worse; we’re under-appreciated enough as it is.
If you are good at what you do, you should be paid to do it. You are taking time out of your own life to perform and give services to a client because they wanted you to be in their project and/or they could not do what are you are doing themselves. It is labor common sense: You work, you get paid. No matter if it’s voice acting, art, writing, or programming; you did work, you get paid.
Now, to those who want to make projects instead of be hired onto projects, respect those underneath you and pay them for their work. Don’t make anyone work for you for free if you have the money to spare. I can understand no pay for college projects or non-profit games if you have no way to pay your team in the first place, but if you REMOTELY gain some sort of pay/profit/income from a project, like Kickstarter, have the decency to pay your team for their contributions.
I understand that a lot of projects come from just the passion of creating a project, but unless you are doing EVERYTHING (art, writing, voices, music, programming, etc) on your own, you are relying on other people to make your project come to life. If you get ANY money of out it, then your team members should make money off of it. It’s fair and morally right.
"But Michaela, I can just get free artists/voice actors/composers! They’re okay with no pay so I don’t have to pay them!"
Then I would start questioning the quality of their work. Free work, 75% of the time, means VERY low-grade quality work. If they are absolutely PERFECT at their jobs, then I would start questioning your morals and work ethic. If you are truly passionate about making your project happen, then you need to know that making something happen involves sacrifices of any sort, including financial backing/sacrifice. They did what you wanted? PAY THEM.
I, to this day, STILL get irritated over the fact that some of my projects are indeed free projects to where I 100% CANNOT pay my talents. They are doing work for me so I feel morally obligated to pay them for their time and skills because, most of the time, what I asked them to do is their LIFE. I pay Chris whenever I can for the music he makes for me. I try to provide good pay to voice talents I hire onto my projects. I do this because I know the pay is worth making my projects the best they can be.
"But Michaela, that sounds so corporate! That’s not passion at all! That’s BUSINESS!"
Call it whatever you want. If you are taking time out of your life to get people to do work for you and if they are taking time out of their lives to work for you, then you need to have the money to pay them for that work unless you absolutely cannot provide it. We all have bills to pay. We all need food to eat. You call it corporate, we call it our careers.
Don’t close your mind when money is involved. If money is involved, 99% of the time, it’s worth the costs. The skills you need for making dreams come true will always cost money. Get that ignorant mindset out of your head and open your eyes to what you are making. You aren’t just paying a talent for their services, you are paying them to stay alive and active enough to even DO your work. You are providing the food money they need to buy groceries or even just the meal for that day/week. You are paying to keep their electricity on so they don’t disappear in the middle of the project.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO, BUT GET PAID TO DO IT. MAKE WHAT YOU WANT TO MAKE, BUT PAY THOSE WHO HELP MAKE YOUR DREAMS HAPPEN!!