Author: Sarah McDowd
Lately I have noticed an increasing (and utterly obnoxious) trend in the modeling industry- Casting calls and potential bookings describing their particular jobs’ compensation; not with a monetary amount, but with a craftily-worded roadblock instead. Some examples of this include: “pay is open to discussion”, “negotiable”, or “send us your rate.” (Author’s note: I am rolling my eyes as I type this. They are so far back into my head that I am pretty sure I just saw my brain.)
This trend is typically a result of two scenarios. The first (and most common): The client is being a giant CHEAPSKATE and has no money to spend in the first place. They want models to lower their typical rate, instead of the client having to reveal that they have no funds (to pretend) to offer in the first place. And unfortunately, many models happily oblige in order to “beat out the competition” and book another job. Essentially, this type of client is asking qualified models to bid on the job to see how low they will go. In the end, this is not the kind of job you want to book in the first place, let alone lower your standards to “bid” on.
There is also the second (much less-common) instance, whereby a client has simply never worked with a modeling agency, or dealt with enough models prior, in order to set an appropriate rate. As such, they allow room for the models to fill in the blanks for them. Regardless of scenario, models need to know their worth!!
In the first scenario, clearly it is situational and you will need to use your discretion each time. (Ask yourself- is it worth it to lower your rate so much that you get paid less than minimum wage in the end? Or would your time be better spent searching for a higher-paid gig instead?) In the second case, however, STAND FIRM on rate. Just because this client doesn’t know an appropriate rate does not mean they won’t pay an appropriate rate. In fact, they are very likely to pay the rate you give, as long as it is fair! For example, if you are doing a basic 2-hour catalog shoot and demand $1500, plus hair, makeup, wardrobe, and Craft services; don’t expect to get booked. By the same token, do not offer to do this same 2-hour catalog shoot for $50 either!! They will think you unqualified if you volunteer to do this job for such dismal pay, and will likely look for another model.
Bottom line is this: Be fair based on your own personal experience, but also stand firm and know your worth. It will pay off- literally and figuratively.
(*note: this article is intended for models with some experience, but mostly for semi-pro and professional models that have booked paying work previously. If you are a brand new model and have yet to book a paying gig, do not expect to command a high rate without experience. However, DO keep this article in mind for future endeavors and bookings once you have more experience. Good luck to all!)
aaron scattergood says
I make websites for aspiring models/models – do you offer any advertising or email blasts for a fee? I would be interested in seeing if advertising with your site/email base would be a good fit for both parties.
Robert Vazarian says
Hello Sarah, I would fall into that second category as I have never worked with a model or agency. For what it’s worth, I have to say I think your clear distaste for a potential client asking what your rate would be is puzzling to me. If I asked a model or agent to “send over your rate”, that would in no way indicate that I am a cheapskate or do not have the funds in place for the project. Utterly obnoxious? Whoa! No, I don’t think so.
Many times, we tend to determine our view of norms from within our own paradigms and completely forget that those that do not exist within this paradigm may see things differently; and that doesn’t make them wrong, or cheapskates. And this is a perfect example. I am not from the modeling world and I exist in a very different world. I am a potential client and I suspect many potential clients are not much different from me. I am considering hiring models to help present our new consumer electronics products. I have been an entrepeneur for 14 years serving the US cable industry and now we are venturing into consumer electronics. I am a very experienced entrpeneur and competent in my field. But I have never hired a model and I would not think twice about asking you to “send over your rate”. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee I would say something similar to that. And I also can guarantee that I am no cheapskate.
I’m sorry to hear that you feel the way you do and I am a tad less likely to hire a model if your opinion is widely held in your industry. Bottom line, is that I am no less likely to ask you to send over your rate than I would be to ask a car salesman for a price on a car. Despite what some people may think, even people with money are practical and seek value. That old saying, “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it” is complete nonsense. Even if I were in the market for a Ferrari, I would want to know the price of the different models in order to determine the best value for me. I know you might be thinking that anybody that would say such a thing would not be able to afford to buy a Ferrari but I assure you, I could easily do so. And I would absolutely be asking about pricing.
…for what it’s worth.
Wishing you well!