To Be or Not To Be an Exclusive Voice Over Actress

Published by Debbie Grattan on 08/21/13

When a client asks you to be an exclusive voice over for a particular share of the market, there are several things to consider.

I recently had this dilemma come up for me, when a direct response end-client (not the producer of the commercial spots, but the actual manufacturer and VP of the company that develops the “as seen on TV” or infomercial products,) came to me to ask what my price would be as a professional voice over actress exclusively for them.

Since I happened to land the commercial voice over for his company’s particular plush children’s toy that performed the very best in history for all children’s products sold on TV the manufacturer (maybe you’ve heard of Pillow Pets), thought that perhaps he could purchase my voice, for exclusive use in this share of the market, for a price.

This was undiscovered territory for me.

Is it only celebrities who should be paid generously for the exclusivity of their voice talent?

Certainly, I can think of celebrity pitch men and women, who are paid generously for the exclusivity of their voice talent in certain shares of the market. Take for instance, Tim Allen (Campbell’s Soup – Pure Michigan), Jeff Bridges (Hyundai), Jon Hamm (Mercedes-Benz), Julia Roberts ( Nationwide Insurance ) these are just a few names that come to mind.

Obviously, for big name celebrities, there is a higher price tag than for a relatively unknown female voice over talent like myself. But, if they wanted to keep my voice exclusively for use with their products, and keep it off the market for competing products, then what kind of price tag would I put on that?.

Is it worth it to give up other professional voice over opportunities for exclusivity offers?

I did quite a bit of thinking and research on this one…

If I was to remove myself from accepting other jobs in any competing category, what effect would that have on my bottom line?  I did go back over the last several years to take stock of just how much income I had earned from these direct response type ads.

If I was going to say “no” to current and future clients in a particular genre of product, than what was I giving up? And, would figures from years past be only a small indication of what could be out there waiting in the future? If I were to decline other offers, what kind of relationship damage would I be doing for years to come, by not establishing and continuing these relationships? What would give up all this be worth?.

After a few discussions with some trusted individuals in the know, I took some advice, and asked the VP to give me what he thought was a reasonable price for me to be hired as a professional voice over exclusively for his company. I suppose in any sort of business deal, it’s sometimes best to have the other party throw out the first offer, especially since it was his idea in the first place.

His offer was low in comparison to what I had already determined to be my potential earning ability within this market. I countered….high, but certainly within what I thought was a reasonable range for what he was asking me to do. I didn’t get a responding email. I guess it was too high, in his opinion, to even consider countering.

I suppose there is a price for anything. If they were offering a 6 or 7 figure contract (which is I’m sure what the celebrities’ agents have negotiated for them on these deals) then it would have been worth it for me.

I didn’t regret my decision, or the money I turned down. Looking at the long-term ramifications of choosing to exclude certain vendors or clients, and how much that limits what I can deliver as a female voice over talent, it just made more sense to keep my voice available for anyone who wishes to hire me. You never know who and what that next professional voice over services client can bring to the table.

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