More About Payment For Performers…

We believe that professional performers deserve:

  • Compensation commensurate with the work performed. Performers should never be expected to pay for the opportunity to work.

Like professionals in any other field, performers have invested countless hours training to hone their skills and hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to build their careers. They bring that experience and training to every project they work on – and like professionals in any other field, they deserve to be paid for their work.

Due to the variable nature of a performer’s work, many performers have “survival jobs” to help make ends meet in between projects. If a performer is being asked to give up a day earning money through other means, shouldn’t s/he be compensated for the money s/he isn’t receiving through those other means?

The performers unions have established minimum rates for various levels of projects, and performers are encouraged to use those rates as a guide; at the very least, performers should be paid their state’s minimum wage.

A performer’s pay, however, is never based solely on the hours spent performing in front of an audience or camera. Performers have expenses associated with their work that they have to cover – including (but not limited to)

  • Transportation
  • Marketing materials
  • Agency Commissions
  • Taxes
  • Makeup
  • Wardrobe

These expenses, and others like them, should always be taken into account when considering whether or not a project’s rate of pay is appropriate. As we mentioned above, performers are like professionals in any other field – we wouldn’t ask a doctor to pay for medical equipment without compensating him or her; we wouldn’t ask a carpenter to buy the materials for a project without compensation. Likewise, we shouldn’t ask performers to provide materials without compensation for them.

If a performers entire pay check is eaten up by expenses such as these, what is s/he going to have left to cover food and rent?  In order to live and continue working in their field, performers need the GROSS PAY offered by a project to exceed their expenses – their take-home pay after those expenses (or their NET PAY) should always pencil out to a fair day’s wage.

Similarly, performer should always take the term of use into consideration when determining whether an offered rate is acceptable – especially when it comes to commercial work. A performer’s involvement with a particular project will often ensure that s/he isn’t eligible for other projects – if an actor appears in a commercial for a soft drink, for instance, s/he may not be allowed to appear in commercials for any other beverages while that project is available to the public (and, in some cases, any commercials at all!) A “buy-out” determines how long a performer will not be able to work – so performers should be compensated appropriately for the work they won’t be able to do.

The performers unions have strict rules for terms of use; but more than a 2-year “buy out” isn’t recommended for any performer.

 Finally, performers are professionals. We might ask occasionally ask other professionals to donate their time and expertise – but we never expect a lawyer, plumber, or accountant to pay for the privilege of being able to work in his or her field. If anything, we expect to pay these professionals and those like them for their training and service – and we understand if they refuse. Professional performers are no different.

 Professional performers should never be expected to pay for the opportunity to work.

 It is important to note that APP-NW is only offering these guidelines as minimum considerations for professional performers; performers should regularly assess the value they bring to any project, and ask for appropriate compensation to meet that value.