When a company or production house or ad agency has a job to fill, we see all sorts of rates for these projects. Some projects pay very well, some pay horribly and some are in a mix of unknown because the usage is not identified clearly. When hiring a talent, you do not just pay the talent for their time to either show up and be on set or for a voice talent to spend 1/2 hour recording your lines. This goes deeper to compensating the talent for their experience, professionalism and the current going rates whether you are looking at SAG-AFTRA rates or the GVAA Rate guide.
If you hire an on camera talent for a commercial, the talent should be fully aware of all media the spot(s) will be aired on, in what areas and for how long. If a talent is being hired for a two day shoot, there should be a daily rate and a usage rate. For a non-union job this payment should be paid in full within 30 days of receiving said invoice from the talent or their representative. The talent must agree to this rate before stepping on set. This does not mean providing the full specs in a 4 pages 6 point font document where you force the talent to sign off since the shoot is happening in 7 minutes, this document should be sent to the talent or their representative at least one day before the shoot so the talent can ask questions and potentially adjust said contact if anything is questionable or unclear.
If you hire an on camera talent for a union shoot a commercial, the system is set up to pay the talent a session fee, and provided the talent is in the end spot, they will be paid a usage fee which can keep rolling in depending on all media used typically sent in 13 week increments. But remember for many jobs there are exemptions to the rules. For union jobs, if you are wearing a mask or head piece and cannot be identified as yourself, you then would not receive residuals. Why? Who knows, ask SAG-AFTRA. You are still doing the work of other actors but you are wearing a costume because the commercial required it. If you are working a union project that is Ultra low budget or background, then you will receive a low rate of pay and at this level there are many exceptions to residuals and other union standards.
If you hire a voice over talent, the rules are exactly the same as the above situations for on-camera talent. Compensation is needed for each media used. Yes there are exceptions to the above. If the client agrees, the could do a full buyout for a project but still limit the use to a 1-2 year contract. If a talent booked a large tire company project, the could record 10 scripts of different lengths. The end client could then use said scripts as they wish for 1 year and also cut/paste audio from one script to another to create multiple scripts. Know the full buyout for something like this situations, let’s say unlimited media limited to the USA for one year, would be a hefty price. Depending on the specs this could have a rate of $35000.00 or more for a one year usage, once the specs are all dissected. We have seen larger buyouts for companies like Whataburger, they want unlimited use and they pay the right rate to get talent interested.
In the end, all talent want to be paid their worth.