Dancers are unique in many many ways, not least of which is our income. It comes from MANY different places, at inconsistent intervals, it’s often not taxed… and then there’s the actual numbers! We might make $17.49/ hour, we might make over $1k per day, we might make $0.00 in a month, we might make $250,000.00 per year. Still interested? Yea, me too. In this episode, I break down the rates, tips, and trades that helped me understand and OWN my full financial picture.
DA Rates/ Working Conditions: https://www.dancersalliance.org/da-rates
TV/Theatrical 2020 Summary: https://www.sagaftra.org/files/sa_documents/SAG-AFTRA_2020TV-Theatrical_Summary.pdf
For super bonus extra credit: Understanding Residuals SAGAFTRA: https://youtu.be/p4U7CRtmdVM
Understanding IRAs: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/investing/learn-about-ira-accounts
SAGAFTRA Music Department (for all your Music Video needs): (323) 549-6864
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome to Words that Move Me. I’m Dana, jazzed that you’re here stoked about this episode, even though it is about not my favorite subject. Yes, it is money March on the podcast. And in this episode, we are talking about the money side of dance life. Um, we’re going to focus specifically on dancers. We’ll talk about choreographers next week, but if you are an actor, a singer or another type of creative human or performer, um, or the parent of one for that matter, keep listening because there is a metric boat load of information about personal finance, uh, for people who do not so regular work. Uh, but first we’re going to talk wins. I have a very not money-related win today. I have taken ballet class three times in the last eight days, which is more than I have taken ballet class in the last eight months. And it’s feeling very good on my body. Um, I think this particular brand of ballet is a compassionate one. I’ve been taking class from the fabulous Spenser Theberge, and, um, I’ll be real with you ballet, and I have have had a rocky past, uh, we’re we’re not known for getting along and Spenser acts as such a marvelous mediator for me in that relationship. So if you’re looking to get back into a, a ballet class or a ballet practice, I really do recommend Spenser Theberge’s class. He’s been teaching on zoom lately. I don’t know how much longer that will continue. Um, but I will link to Spenser and some more about where to find him in the show notes for this episode, Shout out Spenser. Thank you so much, my friend. All right, Now, it’s your turn. What’s going well in your world.
Awesome. I’m so proud of you. I’m glad that you’re winning. I’m glad that we’re here winning together. Um, and this episode togetherness is important. Having it together is important. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the uniqueness of a dancer’s income and exactly what a dancer’s income might be. Um, we’re going to talk about the importance of a solid money system. I’ll give you a few tips there. Um, I’ll give you some essential vocab and I will also give you a very broad stroke outline of what kind of dollars you can expect to be making. When you’re working as a dancer in movies, TV shows, commercials, music, videos, industrials tours, and live shows. Am I missing anything? Oh yeah. Even student films, um, and projects made for the interweb. So this episode is full and it is for you buckle up.
All right. I want to start off by saying that I think it is fascinating that most dancers and choreographers for that matter, who decide that they want to pursue a career in dance do so without having the slightest idea of how much a dancer or a choreographer makes. I think that actually most creatives are in a similar boat. Um, most of us don’t pursue this creative career. This self-employed life for the money, right? We don’t do this for the money. We didn’t get into it for the money yet. Chances are that if we quit, if we abandon this creative life, this freelance life, it’s probably because of the money. So let’s get a grip on that. Honestly, it’s wild to me, but it is real. I packed up my Volkswagen bug and moved across the country without a clue about the money I would make or without a clue about how much it costs to be alive in Los Angeles. It was my first time living under my own roof. I paid all my own bills and I had no clue what to expect. And that’s not necessarily for lack of trying. It’s actually pretty easy to look up estimated incomes for various professions, but you’ll find that the range of income for a dancer or a choreographer is extremely broad yet the numbers for salaried professionals like software engineer or a nurse or a pilot, for example, those numbers are pretty firm. And I think that people who decide to become doctors, pilots, pharmacists, whatever they do so, considering that number, and they probably have an idea of that number when they’re pursuing training. But do you, my dear mover and shaker busting your balls for a career in dance. Do you have any idea how much a dancer makes in a year and to all my more established movers and shakers, do you know how much you made last year?
You might because it’s tax season, but do you know how much you spent? Could you tell me that number without running and grabbing your last year’s tax returns? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, where there are two other dancers? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a, on a theatrical contract where there were eight or more other dancers, I’ll give you a hint. Those numbers are different. Now, listen, there is no shame game here. No shame at all. In fact, I had to look half this stuff up as I was preparing for this episode, but simply put, I have to say this stuff because in the intro to this podcast, I say the words, if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then stick around blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What I should’ve said is if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, stop being afraid of money, stop being afraid of looking at your balances and your bills and your contracts, and start talking about reading, about learning, about making and managing money.
This episode exists to help you do exactly that at very best. It might be boring to you, but I’m going to start with some cold, hard facts today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of the dancers in the workforce made less than the average American in 2019, the us census median individual income. So the average American individual made a little over $40,000 in 2019. The median hourly rate, I always say rage. I say rage on accident, but I don’t know if it’s an accident. The median hourly wage for a dancer in 2019 was $17 and 49 cents an hour. That’s $36,501 and 63 cents for a full-time year. Now let’s be real. Most dancers don’t work full-time. So if the average full-time American is making $40,000 in a year, and the average full-time dancer is making a 36,000 a little more than 36,000 in a year that median hourly wage $17 and 49 cents leaves you at a little less than $700 for a 40 hour work week. Discouraged? Maybe, but don’t get discouraged, get deliberate, get deliberate about how you earn, spend and grow your wealth. I’m going to give you a little encouragment moment. Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of entertainment professionals is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029. That is faster than the average for all other occupations. What does that say? It says that people want to be entertained and they always will. It also says there’s a chance. So you’re telling me there’s a chance. What was all that one in a million talk? I digress, man. I love movies. Um, let’s see, in case you need a little more encouragement as of today, which is March, 2021, a dancer hired as a soloist or part of a duo on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, theatrical, by the way, it means films. AKA features that dancer will be paid a minimum rate of $1,030 in one day. And that’s just for the initial work. That’s not including the residual payments. It will get into, uh, the terms in the contract, specifics of all that in a moment. But for now I’ll wrap up this section by saying, dancers are unique. For many, many reasons. One of them is that dancers might make 700 per week, or we might make over a thousand per day, or we could make zero in a month or we could make 250,000 in a year. I would love to see dancer rates and dancer employment go up. But I don’t only think there’s an income challenge here. I think that most of us self-employed dance types actually have a cash flow challenge. Um, I think we never learned how much we ought to be charging. I think we never really learned how to manage it once we make it here are, if you other things that make us really, really unique, um, other than our exquisite fashion sense and physical superpowers of course consider that the traditional employee has their taxes paid automatically. When they receive their check, their taxes are already gone. They’re taken out already like Macavity. They’re not there. Sorry, Cats. I can’t help it. Wow. Movies shown up a lot for me today. Um, also traditional employees receive health and pension plans through their employer. Imagine that they get paid vacation, sick days and personal days. They have a fixed income that usually comes from one place. We do not. In fact, if you’re good at what you do, you’ve got money coming from a lot of different sources for varying amounts on a super irregular basis and through different money channels. For example, PayPal, for all your zoom classes, residual checks from SAG-AFTRA direct deposits from your agencies, um, direct deposits from productions and various payroll companies like media services, entertainment partners, dance studios, all of it. Oh, and if you have an LLC, if you are a single member, LLC, then you’re hopefully also receiving payroll from yourself. So well, this can make tax season really woo exciting. And that is exactly why it’s important for independent contractors like us to organize our money lives and to our own personal financial systems. And that is whatever works my friend, because we truly are unique, little dancing snowflakes. And um, Oh, I wonder if the sugar plum theme music is creative commons. I should be playing that right now. I could probably use that anyways. What I’m trying to say is that we, we independent contractors have to be more disciplined than the average nine to fiver in order to keep all of this creative freedom in our daily lives.
Okay. So let’s get into some vocab, shall we? Um, I mentioned already the median average dancer hourly rate, and I want to make sure that I’m explicitly clear about what that means. Um, it means that half of the data points fall below that number, that $17 and 49 cents per hour and half of the data points are higher than that. So if Sarah let’s say, makes the median average dancer rate of $17.49 an hour, she makes more than half the dancers in the workforce. And half of the dancers in the workforce are making more than she does. So to revisit math class for just a quick second, the median number is the number smack in the middle of all the data. The mean average in this case would be, um, every dancers hourly rate added up together and then divided by the number of total dancers. And the mode average is the number of most commonly occurring. Great math. We did it. Um, okay. Now let’s talk about some fun acronyms. Let’s start with SAG-AFTRA, shall we, SAG-AFTRA is the labor union that represents 160,000, probably more than that. Right now, actors, announcers broadcast journalists, dancers, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA stands for Screen Actors Guild, which then merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. There you have it, SAG-AFTRA. The stage equivalent of SAG-AFTRA is called Actors’ Equity. They represent more than 51,000 actors and stage managers.
Now let’s talk DA. DA stands for Dancers Alliance, a group of dancers, including myself who advocate for equitable minimum rates and working conditions for all non-union work. That’s any gig that falls outside of SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction. For example, Paul Mitchell decides to do a hair show. This is not on camera. This is not a Broadway or off-Broadway show it. This might be taking place in Austin, Texas. For example, that work would fall under the jurisdiction of Dancer’s Alliance. Now let’s talk about a slightly less sexy acronym. I R A or individual retirement account, which is kind of like a savings account, but you can’t use the money quite yet. And it has tax advantages. We’re honestly, we’re not going to talk much about IRAs today, but I will link to a really helpful video on the subject, um, in the show notes of this episode, enjoy that. Okay, let’s talk P and H. P and H is V important. Um, P&H stands for pension and health. These are contributions that go to a pension fund and healthcare. In my case, I received these through SAG-AFTRA now because dancers are typically young and healthy. Most of us don’t care too much about P&H, but Wowza, if this last year is any evidence, we can all become sick. We can all become injured and you cannot dance if you don’t have your health. So I strongly encourage you start recognizing the benefits of health and pension benefits. All right, let’s talk CPA’s. A CPA is a certified public accountant, and I’ll be real with you. There are a lot of online services that boasts the ability to save you money on your taxes. But I find that working with a real human being CPA, whose name’s Jeremy shout out Jeremy, um, on my taxes every year is really the only way to go. I have a lot of that software out there isn’t designed to handle the uniqueness. That is me and you. So that’s a CPA certified public accountant. Now a CB as in bargaining, a CBA stands for collective bargaining agreement. This is the agreement between the union and the employer that you work under when you’re a part of a sag after contract, for example, uh, people who support collective bargaining and unions in general, believe that employees have a better chance at getting what they want in terms of rates and working conditions. When they negotiate as a collective, as a union, rather than individually. Now, when we talk about SAG-AFTRA contracts or CBAs, we’ll discuss four broad categories of work, TV, theatrical, commercial, and new media. Oh, another fun acronym, S V O D subscription video on demand like Netflix, Apple+, Hulu, Amazon, all of those guys, they’re making this conversation very interesting. Okay. Now, when I get into talking about SAG -AFTRA commercial contracts, I’ll go deeper on the concept of residuals, but just for the purpose of this vocab section, a residual or royalty payment is sometimes known as a use payment. That simply means that an additional compensation will be paid out when a production is shown at, beyond its original covered use. The rest of it is not so simple. Okay. That was not simple. I’ll be real, but we’re going to get into residuals in just a second. Now I’m not a financial advisor. I am not a fiduciary, but I do financially advise you to purchase this financial book. It is called The Money Book for Freelancers part-timers and the self employed it’s by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan. Um, um, it is in the show notes for this episode and it is very well-written. You will laugh. You will likely cry, but that’s not because of the writing. That’s because you love moving your body. You think it’s fun. And this book has nothing to do with moving your body.
Um, but it has everything to do with moving you towards financial freedom. I owe a lot to this book, which now that I say that out loud is really funny because the book itself is only like $15. And I paid for it all at once. So I know I owe nothing to this book yet. I know yet I owe so much to this book. Honestly, it’s like a handhold. It’s like a financial partner all the way through guiding you. Uh, I honestly, I got straighter answers from this book than I have gotten from previous CPAs and financial advisors who wiggled around concepts for hundreds of dollars. And this book was 15. So there you have it. Oh, and it was not paid to say this, by the way, uh, the money book outlines system for organizing your financial records, it helps you get a clear picture of how much you earn what you spend and what you owe, which by the way, with just a few hours of very focused time, you could probably, and should probably do that today.
Um, the book also explains how you might prioritize paying off debt. It helps you evaluate not only the number side of your business, but also encourages you to evaluate how good you are at doing what you do and kind of offer some ideas about how you might do it better, truly awesome. Um, but there were three massive takeaways that I, that I gathered from this book, and I want to share them with you. Number one, I learned the importance of web only banking. I moved most of my money to a web only bank, which means they have no storefront. They have no like in-human exchanges there. Um, but this web only bank had a much better annual percentage yield, which by the way, the yield is how much the investor, in this case you receives from the investment, the amount of money that you have sitting in the bank, the interest rate on my old checking account at the Bank of America, shame on you was 0.01%. When I switched over to the web bank that I use, which is ally, I got 1% on that same amount of money. I got 1% interest. Now for math sake, let’s say I had a thousand dollars in that account. At B of A, in one year, that thousand dollars would have made me 10 cents of money that the same thousand dollars in my ally account would have earned me $10, 10 cents versus $10. And when the amount of money in the account goes up, that disparity goes up a lot as well. .01 and 1% are really different at the end of the year. Um, for the record, I should state that ally at the time that I signed up boasted that 1% interest rate, um, at the sign-up time. But I believe now it’s dropped 2.5%. So I might be shopping for a new bank holler. Let me know what you know. Um, Oh, I also have to tell you while we’re talking about interest rates, high interest rates on savings accounts, high interest rates on savings accounts equals good. High interest rates on credit cards, however, equals bad because the cash is flowing in the other direction there. Um, for a credit card, you are paying the interest, not earning it because in that, in that case, you’re the borrower, not the lender. Okay, there we go. So that’s lesson number one, the value of web banks and higher interest rates on savings accounts.
Lesson number two, what the book refers to as the Holy Trinity of savings at the time that I read this book, read it, wow. At the time that I started, um, I started shaving off 10% of every check that I made. Every single check I received. Hence percent of that money went directly into an account dedicated for emergencies. Another 10% got shaved off and went over into a retirement account, which would later be shipped off into an IRA. But let’s skip that for now. Um, where were we? 10% to emergency fund. 10% went to a retirement fund and then 15. And when I say fund, I mean savings account, and then 15% of each check went to yet another web bank savings account to be paying my taxes. So, yeah, that’s 35% of each check that I would ship directly off to a high interest yielding savings account. And each of those accounts has made me hundreds of dollars. Yay. Great. Oh, on the subject of those of the Holy Trinity of savings, I also learned the value of naming your accounts. Most banks, especially online banks will let you give a nickname to your savings account. I am here to tell you that you are more likely to feed a savings account called the house of my dreams or my first film versus a savings account ending in numbers. Right? Um, but you could call yours whatever you want. You could call it F You, Uncle Sam, whatever makes you feel funky, whatever inspires you to throw money in that direction, you could get very creative here. See there is creativity to the financial side of the dance life. Um, okay. So all of that is to say there are a lot of small changes you can make on your own that will really change your big financial picture. But I do want to underline the importance of having a solid team, um, throughout the rest of this episode. You’ll hear me say, ask your agent or ask your CPA a lot again, don’t be afraid to ask questions about money. It’s okay. If you don’t know, in fact, it’s your CPA’s job to know more about taxes than you do, and your agents exist not only to send you on auditions, but to help you understand the terms of your contracts, to make sure that you are agreeing to a fair wage. And then yes, of course, to make sure that you are receiving that fair wage. Um, super shout out, by the way, to all my friends at CTG clear talent group and to Tim O’Brien and Misha Goetz specifically who joined me in episode 34, that one is must listen, go ahead and give that, uh, give that a listen. Okay.
Moving right along now, I’m going to move into some more gig specific numbers. I want to say that I have advocated for unionizing in the past. I helped unionize music videos and when a union contract for a tour, but this episode is really not about union versus non-union work. Um, and while we’re on the subject, I really want to address this common misconception that union contracts are about making you more money. Um, this is just simply not true. Union contracts don’t mean more money, but it also does mean more protection and more support in terms of what’s covered in terms of where the money goes like health and pension contributions. And it also means that you’ll have much more support to make a dispute in the event that something goes wrong or the terms of the agreement aren’t met. All right, here we go. Dancers and dollars. Mind you. This is specifically dancers as in dance performers, not teachers or studio owners or choreographers. Also keep in mind that these numbers do change over time. I’m recording in March of 2021, and I’m using the numbers relevant to today. Also, just to keep it focused, I’m only going to discuss rates, not penalty fees or working conditions like dressing rooms, warm up spaces, releases, breaks, turnaround times, et cetera. So we’re going to start off by taking a look at the industry standard rates for non-union projects. I’m referring to the Dancers Alliance website, which is dancersalliance.org That will be in the show notes, um, which is by the way, super user-friendly and all of this is there in plain English. I really encourage you to do a little deeper digging yourself. All right, Dancer’s Alliance live shows industrials and non-union music videos. Your rehearsal rate with agency fee on top of these minimum rates would be $175 for a one to four hour rehearsal day. That’s a half day at $175. Anything over that four hours becomes time and a half a full eight hour rehearsal day would be at $250. Anything over eight hours becomes time and a half for a show day or a shoot day. We’re looking at a $500 minimum. The, the rate for a rehearsal on the same day as a show is open to negotiation. You would expect to receive $150 minimum per travel day or retainer day. If you’re working outside of your hometown, you would also receive per diem. On top of that travel day, pay a per diem, by the way, is a Latin phrase that translates to by the day. This term also refers to the amount of money paid to employees for different types of daily scenarios. Um, most common uses for per diem are tips, food. Um, you know, other odd incurred costs that you have when you’re out there in the world, working away from your normal workspace in Los Angeles. The average per diem rate is $66 per day. In New York, It’s $76. In Las Vegas, It’s $61. In Atlanta and Miami, that’s both $66. There is a full list of those on the Dancer’s Alliance website. Go check that out. All right. Now, if performers are requested to supply their own costumes, uh, including footwear wardrobe items will be compensated at $25 per outfit. That’s total, not per day and $15 per pair of shoes. Ah, while we’re on the wardrobe, subject fittings outside of a rehearsal day will be paid at $50 per hour. Fittings on a rehearsal day are applied to the time that you’ve worked. So most fittings usually happen on record. Okay. If the terms that I just stated, aren’t met on a project, talk to your agent, simple as that. Now music videos are now covered by SAG-AFTRA. Yeah, yes, we are celebrating this because music videos used to be the Wild Wild West, and now they are slightly less wild. A dancer, It’s it’s not common that a dancer would be paid in food like in pizza and beer to perform in a music video. Now, dancer rates are determined by the video budget. Um, dancers make a minimum of 500 for a 12 hour shoot day for all videos with a budget of 50,000 or higher all performers receive safety, provisions, health and pension contributions and usage fees. This is great. Now the DA website has a super helpful cheat sheet on their website that I have included in the show notes as well. Um, but because I mentioned safety provisions, I want to talk about that for just one second. Although it deserves an episode entirely unto itself, music videos have language for quote, extraordinary risk circumstances and quote. This is AKA hazardous conditions. Um, anything from dancing on unusual surfaces to aerial work or trampoline work, or even wearing gear that’s not made for dance like ski boots or skis or a head dress or mask that compromises your vision. All of these are considered extraordinary risk circumstances, but on a music video, even significant floor work on concrete may be considered hazardous. So on a music video specifically with a budget of a hundred thousand or less dancers are entitled to an additional $50 per day videos with a budget of above 100,000 are entitled to an additional one, $100 per day. Now, no matter what the project, if you feel that the work you’re being asked to do is a threat to your safety or wellbeing, talk to your agent period, the end. Um, and also the next time you open your phone to scroll through Instagram, just go scroll through Dancer’s Alliance website instead. Okay, the end, moving on.
Okay. Moving on SAG-AFTRA contracts, as I mentioned for dancers, these usually fall up or four main categories, but there are so, so, so many more like dubbing, voiceover, um, news broadcast, et cetera. There’s a lot, but, um, we’re going to focus specifically on TV, theatrical, commercial and new media. Now it bears mentioning, there are a lot of changes going on, um, especially in the TV and theatrical contracts, like literally as we speak. So even if you’re a person who works on these contracts regularly, you should consider taking a look at the, 2020 TV theatrical summary, which is linked in the show notes of this episode, and absolutely be standing by for the new net code contracts. Um, but for now we’ll give a brief outline of these four categories and their rates as they stand today, we’ll start with theatrical because let’s face it. Everybody loves the movies. Theatrical means film or feature. There are basic theatrical agreements, low budget agreements, modified low budget agreements, ultra low budget agreements, short project agreements and student film agreements. Um, each of these contracts, if you couldn’t guess is determined by the budget of the project, um, they’re each slightly different, but pretty well outlined on SAG-AFTRA’s website. If you’re curious about those, um, uh, I suggest you go take a look, but I’ll tell you about the dancer rates for the basic theatrical contracts here. If you are a solo or a duo being hired on a theatrical contract, you’ll be making $1,030 per day. If you’re in a group of three to eight performers, your rate per day would be $902. And if you’re in a group of nine plus, your rate will be $788 per day. All of those are at a $607 rehearsal day rate. Now weekly rates are higher, um, obviously, but significantly less than all of those numbers. I just mentioned times five. So, uh, bears taking a look if you’ll be on a weekly rate versus a daily rate, um, all right, let’s move into TV contracts. Whoa. This can feel really, really confusing because a contract for scripted episodic, um, like Big Bang Theory, for example, are different from non scripted network shows like competition shows ie. Dancing with the Stars. So you think you can Dance, World Of Dance, um, and award shows like the VMAs or the Oscars or the Grammys. Those are all non-scripted shows and those will fall under what is called the NETCODE or network code. Um, the other slightly muddy element here is that there are countless episodic or scripted series shows now being made by and for SVODs. Do you remember what that stands for? Scripted Video On Demand?
Yes, we did it, or we did it. We did it together, anyways, actually at this point in the quarantine is hard for me to name five shows that are not Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu or Apple+ originals. These are TV shows in air quotes that are not on TV. Um, to simplify this a little bit, your TV rate and your TV contract depend on the budget of the production, the number of episodes and the episode length. For example, if you’re being hired for, um, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is an Amazon original because of its high budget and the episodes are longer than 20 minutes, you’ll be on a TV contract. But if you’re hired for a YouTube series or another streaming show with, uh, with a script, um, that has a budget of less than $1 million, you’ll likely be on a new media contract, which we are talking about next again, I truly do suggest that you ask your agent what type of contract you’ll be working on if they haven’t already told you before your first day of work, simply so that you know what to expect.
All of these contracts are slightly different now, new media contracts for all streaming platforms, whether they be Amazon or Instagram, whether they be film spots, series’s or commercial spots, as long as the budget is between 50,000 and 1 million, it will be on a new media contract. New media rates really fluctuate depending on the scale of the budget. And, um, again, to be sure if you are on a new media contract or not check with your agent, um, so that you can know how much you should be expecting to make this is important stuff. Okay? Lastly, the coveted commercial contracts, which let’s be real, there are no less complicated than the TV contracts, because so many commercials these days are intended exclusively for online use. So they fall under the new media contract that I just talked about. But if you’re a commercial, your piece of media is intended for TV. Then there are different classes and different rates of agreements. Class A is the most popular. That means the spot will air in over 20 cities. Class B applies to commercials that will air in six to 20 cities. But if New York is one of those cities, the rates will be higher. We’ll talk about that more in a second, um, class C commercials, these are the least used contracts and they apply to commercials that will air in less than six cities. Okay. Last but not least, there’s the wild spot. The wild spot is a commercial that is aired in over 20 cities like the class a, but these are specific cities. So, um, let me think of an example. Okay. A commercial for In and Out for example, is not going to be running on the East coast because there aren’t any in and outs out there. So these commercials don’t run on specific networks, per se. They run in specific regions and for specific markets. Um, so all those contracts are slightly different, but in one way, they are all the same. They have a rate for first use. That’s what you get paid when you shoot it. And that rate covers the initial usage of the spot. Then the more, the spot airs you will be paid in a residual payment that is of course, unless a buyout was negotiated. Again, we’ll get to that in just a second. Let’s talk class A for a second, if you are a Class, A on-camera performer, that means there’s less than three of you. Your rate is $712 per day. If you’re on a Class A contract and there’s three to five on-camera performers, that rate would be $521 and 20 cents per day. If there are six to eight of you, the rate would be $461 per day. And if there are nine or more performers, that rate would be $381 per day. So you see how that goes. The more performers there are, the lower the rate, the final group nine plus is also known as group nine. Now we’re going to touch on wild spots for a second, just a quick second, because the rates are the same as the Class A rates, which makes sense because they’re also aired in 20 plus cities. So if you want to know what you make on a wild spot, rewind 10 seconds and you’ll have it. Um, okay. Class B rates, they vary depending on whether or not New York is one of the places your spot will air. So that’s fun. Um, but the rates are much higher. If New York is one of those cities, uh, a principal might make $1,347 and 14 cents per day. But without New York as one of those cities that same performer would make $1098 and 75 cents per day. Fortunately, the numbers get a little easier from there because if you’re in a group of three or more New York or not New York, doesn’t matter. If there are three to five performers, you’d be making $857 and 96 cents. Six to eight performers, you’d be making $758 and 66 cents per day and a nine plus we’re looking at $620 and 24 cents per day. That’s our class B which again, not very commonly used because you can imagine that. Or at least I can imagine that why use that contract with all those fancy New York adjustment, higher, higher rate adjustments when it could just be made on a class, A contract. So I’m so curious about if that even gets used. Really curious, anyways, moving right along. Class C, okay. Class C on camera principals, we’re talking $654 77 cents for the first day. For first use per day, a group of three to five, we’re talking $567 and 44 cents. A group of six to eight performers is looking at $504 and 33 cents per day. And your group nine is looking at $412 and 39 cents per day for the first use. Of course, all of those rates I just mentioned are for the initial use. That’s what you’ll be paid for the shoot. Now, the rest, rests with the residual gods. Again, a residual payment is simply additional compensation, which is paid once the production is shown beyond its original use covered by the initial compensation. For example, for theatrical film, residuals would be triggered once the film is released anywhere other than theaters, the theater release is the original use. So residuals would start coming in once the film is released as a DVD or aired on TV or online or something like that. Now that is a very grossly, gross get it, gross pun. Um, not gross, like nasty, but gross as in like total.
Okay. Just to go one tiny layer deeper, there are two different types of residuals. Fixed residuals, which are based on the run of the spot. Um, these exists for TV and new media contracts only. So the amount that you would receive are based on how you were initially paid, and they’re tied to the number of reruns they’re due within 30 days to four months. And that is your fixed residual. The more popular residual structure is a revenue or gross receipts based residual structure. This one’s the most popular it’s tied to sales. Um, they’re due quarterly, or as soon as funds are sufficient enough to cut checks to the entire cast, which by the way, I have been on the receiving end of 1 cent residuals. So I guess that number is substantial enough to cut a check, um, that sort of thing happens. It’s really actually incredible. Um, so these type of these revenue based residuals, um, they’re based on time and salary units. So the person with the smallest residual is probably the performer who, who worked maybe one day at scale on the project. The bigger slice of the residual pie would go to the person who worked at or above scale for multiple days. And so those, those residuals scale accordingly based on time and salary units, I hope that’s been helpful in, in your understanding of how residuals work. If you are into a deeper dive, I’m going to point you in the direction of, um, a video starring SAG-AFTRA’s own Jennifer Gaudry, it really gets into the nuts and bolts of residuals. Um, if you’re interested in that, God bless you find the video in the show notes. Um, I do want to heads you up though. I usually watch YouTube videos at 1.5 X speed. Um, I watched this one slow and multiple times to understand it. Definitely some layers of understanding here. Now, since we’re here talking about residuals, it’s worth mentioning that most non-union commercials and new media contracts can form to industry standard rates and safety measures, but they do not offer residual structure. Instead you’ll likely receive what’s called a buyout, AKA a usage fee that is a flat rate one-time payment usually bundled in with your initial fee. Um, and it’s intended to cover all additional uses in perpetuity. I’m not thrilled about buyouts. If you can’t tell, I am thrilled, however about these contracts and the fact that they are always getting slightly better, thanks to the work of our brothers and sisters over the union. It truly is an incredible thing to watch progress happen over time, and to watch the benefits of these contracts start being rolled out. Very, very cool thing. Um, also I want to point out with regards to these SAG-AFTRA contracts, All of the numbers that I just mentioned, all of the numbers that you see on the rate sheets on SAG-AFTRA is website. Those are minimums. There are performers who have their agents negotiate above scale, and I want you to be one of those performers. I want you to become so capable, so exceptional that you are an exception to the minimum. I want to see you not only working, but working above scale, absolutely working above that median $17 and 49 cents per hour. And I believe that you can. Now we are dancers, not mathematicians. Although I do know several dancers that are very, very good with numbers. We can all count to eight at least. And we know how to add. We especially know how to add value. So please danclings know your worth, know your rates. And if there’s something that you’re confused about or concerned about, or don’t understand, choose curiosity, instead of confusion, refer to DA’s website, check the SAG-AFTRA website, check Actor’s Equities website, talk to your team of agents, talk to your team of friends, choose curiosity, get that information, get a clearer picture of your financial life and what you should expect. And then of course choose compassion always for yourself and for others, especially set as things can get heated, especially when we’re talking about money. Remember that when you’re on a gig, you represent a part of the professional dance community and being treated and paid as a professional comes along with behaving professionally. All right, my friends, I truly hope this episode has been helpful to you. Um, it has been helpful to me in making it, I have learned so, so, so much now, uh, go take these resources and run with them. Do deeper dives, do deeper digging and do make good habits of understanding your contracts before you sign them. All right. Now, go get out into your day, keep your money on your mind. Keep your mind on your money and yes. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later
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