Though it shouldn’t be… a touchy subject that is. And maybe it’s not anymore. God knows I’m not all up in the “con mix” like I used to be. But I remember when the whole thing started blowing up, and there were like a bajillion Anime Cons in every state, and Voice Actors in a different city every weekend, practically, with barely enough time to actually work. There was a lot of drama, back then, over “certain people” charging (gasp!) APPEARANCE FEES! These people were looked upon my some with scorn and headshakes, talked about in hushed tones as if they were criminals or villains, trying to bleed conventions out of their every last penny.
At the time, I tried not to have much of an opinion on the matter. I only knew that, in my mind, I wasn’t a “big enough name” at the time to really rate any sort of an Appearance Fee.
But that changed.
The busier I got, and the busier cons got, and the more annoying traveling became, the more appearing at conventions started to feel like work… You know why? BECAUSE IT IS! Yes, it’s true, not only does appearing at a convention mean a free flight, hotel room and food, but it also means keeping very odd hours, typically compromising your immune system, paneling for hours, signing autographs for hours, stopping every few minutes (sometimes seconds) in hallways and ballrooms to have your picture taken, and… DUN DUN DUNNN!, missing out on work!
Now, for me, the work part of a con doesn’t bother me. I’m a brand, a product, a business unto myself, and if I’ve been invited to a con, then it’s my duty to promote myself, and to entertain fans, and help make the con a profitable venture for those in charge. But, guess what that means? I get paid. And the main reason I get paid (again, for me, as I can’t and won’t speak for anybody else on this issue) is that I’m missing out on work, potential work, and marketing myself in the Voice Over market in general.
Let me break it down a bit:
I work six days a week, anywhere from about three to nine hours a day, sometimes more. In that time, I’m either recording, editing, marketing, or sometimes (though more rarely now) driving to or from a gig. Without disclosing any exact numbers, my usual money-making goal in a day ranges anywhere from about $200-$600. Do I always reach my goals? No, but I often do. Alright, now let’s consider that when I appear at a con, I’m usually asked to be there from Thursday night through either Sunday night or Monday morning. So, let’s be really conservative here and say that in the shortest commitment situation, I’d fly out on a Friday morning, and back on a Sunday morning. *note- this is almost never the case But in that case, I’d be missing doing work and marketing for a Friday and a Saturday, a potential anywhere from $400-$1200. Now, let’s be a little more realistic… Typical con schedule: I fly out on a Thursday morning, do all the con work on Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday. Get some r and r back at the hotel, then fly out Monday morning, sometimes even Monday evening. So, what has now happened? I’ve missed Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and really, Monday, too. That’s five days. That’s a potential $1,000-$3,000. It also causes me to run the slight risk of getting behind on deadlines, which can cause friction in relationships with a potential long-term client, which basically translates into loss of income.
So, there it is.
Now, you’ll notice I didn’t tell you what my exact appearance fee is, but I gave you a method by which you could arrive at a ballpark amount. As far as what other Guests charge, I have no idea. I only know that whenever I suggest my fee to the person inviting me, 99% of the time the response I get is “oh, that’s totally fine!” So, either I’m being lied to, or my appearance fee is nowhere near as high as certain other talents. *I’m almost willing to bet it’s the latter 🙂
Anyway, I wanted to take a sort of hush-hush subject and demystify it a bit, and possibly help anybody reading this understand why VOs appearing at cons tend to ask for, and usually get, an Appearance Fee.
Yes, it’s Art, it’s our Art, and we love it. But it’s also our Business, and the Artist who forgets that will very likely end up, well, unable to practice his Art, as he or she will spend all their time at a job that does nothing to fulfill them, but instead robs them of their time.
That’s all for now.
Everybody have a great Monday!