This post originally appeared in “Careers in New Media by Douglas E. Welch“…
It is a sad fact of the entertainment business that many of the entry level workers are unpaid interns who are working in order to build their “reel”. Working to build your portfolio is fine, up to a point. In reality, we all need to eat. We all need clothe ourselves. We all need to support our families. Low pay is one thing. NO PAY is another thing entirely!
I understand that in the past, New Media projects have been cash poor. These shows and channels were typically bootstrapped on nothing more than the time and pocket change of those involved. Pay was little, if any, simply because there wasn’t any money to give. That’s not true anymore.
Today, money is beginning to flow into New Media projects, through advertising and programs like YouTube’s Content Initiative, Amazon and Netflix production programs, DVD sales, merchandising, online rentals and more. As this money comes in, producers need to make sure that some of it makes it down to every level of their production organization. Asking someone to work for free when the producers are working for free is one thing.
Asking others to work for free when there is revenue coming in — revenue they helped to generate — is entirely another.
Producers, if someone is good enough at their job that you want them working on your project — PAY THEM! To do otherwise is offensive and disrespectful. Respect those who are helping you develop your project — with your actions, your words and your dollars.
I’m not saying you need to put all your revenue into payroll, but some payment commensurate with the work and with your current revenue is the right thing to do. As your revenue increases, so should your worker’s pay. You benefit from this arrangement, too. Paying your workers helps to insure that they work for you and don’t have to (or want to) go work for someone else.
So, to put the finest point on it possible….
New Media producers should pay all levels of their staff — SOMETHING — ANYTHING!
It is productive. It is important. It is right!
For me, in my business dealings — everyone has to win…or everyone will eventually lose. You would be wise to remember that.