Ep. #65 Money March Pt. 3 MINDSET: MATH vs DRAMA.

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #65 Money March Pt. 3 MINDSET: MATH vs DRAMA.
/

My goal for this episode is NOT to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money, or even THAT you should or shouldn’t think about money.  My goal is to  hold a safe place for you to explore, and discuss your RELATIONSHIP with money.  By the end of this episode, you’ll understand your beliefs about money, how (long it takes) to make a billion dollars AND the very significant role your emotions play in managing your wealth.

Quick Links:

Columbus and Billionaires: https://www.truthorfiction.com/if-you-made-5000-a-day-starting-in-1492-would-you-still-have-less-money-than-jeff-bezos/

Transcript

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.  Hi, and welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. This is Words That Move Me. I’m stoked. This episode is a really, really special one, a subject that is very close to my heart, question mark.. I take that back immediately. Um, close to my mind, at least pretty close to my mind. Most of the time, um, today we’re talking about money mindset. This is part three of money March. We’ve already discussed dancer specific dollars. In episode 63, episode 64 was all about choreographers and the unique challenges that we are looking at in our industry right now. And today we are talking about your mindset about money, and I’m very simply put separating the math from the drama and I’m jazzed about it. But first we’re going to talk wins, and I love my win this week. I’m very excited to share. I’ll tell you mine, and then you will take the floor and share with yourself, or whoever happens to be around you, uh, something that’s going well in your world.  So here we go. Uh, this week I am celebrating that there is finally an in theater and HBO max release date for In the Heights, which of course is Jon Chu’s feature film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda and  Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Tony award-winning musical coming to the big screen. Holy smokes. You guys, I’m extremely emotional about this one. Um, for, for much of 2019, I lived in New York city and was an associate choreographer along with Ebony Williams, Emilio Dosal, and Eddie Torres Jr. Um, working under the fearless leadership of dance and choreography champion, Mr. Christopher Scott and wow friends. I cannot wait for you to see this film. And, uh, I’ve been fortunate enough to reconnect with some of the team in the last few weeks. And that is my win. I am. I’m simply smitten with admiration and awe and pride, um, at being a part of this team and a part of this project, I am thrilled for you to see it. Okay, now it’s your turn. What is going well in your world?  

Congratulations. I commend you for your grind. Please keep going. There are important stories out there that need to be told, and they are demanding and they’re calling for you. So keep going, keep winning and dammit. Even if you’re losing lose forward. I think the more eloquent way to put that as fail forward, but just, just keep going. All right, congrats. You got this. 

Now my aim for this podcast, for every single words that move me episode is to help you listener become more informed and empowered and capable and actively creating more than you consume in terms of value in the world. Um, but my goal for this specific episode is not to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money or even that you should or shouldn’t think about money. My goal is to hold a safe place for you to explore and, um, discuss. And in general, become more aware of your relationship with money. Uh, I suppose you might think of this as, as a relationship counseling session, but since money doesn’t have thoughts and feelings about you, this is going to be a pretty one-sided session. Now, before I get too deep into it, uh, the lovely Riley Higgins, who is my assistant engineer on the podcast, she creates interactive PDF worksheets for every single words that move me podcast episode, the worksheets are designed to be a companion to each episode, a place where you can really apply and study what you are learning, what you’re listening to really recommend you check those out worksheets are sold in bundles of ten at thedanawilson.com/shop And we are making a special deal and bundle out of the money March episodes. So all four parts of our money March series will be turned into worksheets, bundled together thedanawilson.com/shop And they will exist for you there forever. Um, so that you can keep your financial flow locked in and lovely. I love alliteration. I really can’t help it. Um, I really do encourage you to go check that out. Especially this episode’s worksheet will be particularly useful because today I’ll be asking for a lot of crowd participation. Um, I’m going to ask you to look to yourself for a lot of answers to questions instead of to me or to my guests. Um, I suppose I should also make a quick warning that this conversation can bring up a lot. 

Yes. Money. When I think about money, I think about my dad. I think about my childhood. I think about this country. I think about my car. I think about my house. I think about homelessness. I think about inequity. Wow. I mean, this subject of money is loaded and we’re going to start unpacking it. We’re going to unpack it because it can teach us so much about ourselves and our world. Now, before we even unzip to unpack, let’s talk about the suitcase that we’re unpacking. I am very interested in social and economic justice yet. This episode is really not directly about redistributing wealth from the haves to the have nots from the oppressors to the oppressed. This podcast assumes that you are listening to this podcast, which means that you have a phone or some sort of device, possibly a computer or tablet. And you have wifi. This episode was created with an audience whose basic human needs are already met in mind. All right, let’s jump right into it. Shall we? The first idea that I want to introduce is this concept of a relationship. I already touched on it once already, but whether, whether you’ve said yes to that relationship or not, you are indeed in a relationship with money and just like in a friendship or a romantic relationship, your thoughts and beliefs about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since sliced bread, which Holy smokes let’s be real is so good. I have a loaf, the sourdough bread on my counter right now. And it’s so, okay. We’re back. Money, money, not bread, money, not bread. Oh my God. Money, bread. Okay. Moving on. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since something great, you probably feel wonderful about being in a relationship with them, or perhaps you think that your partner is cheating on you. And that makes for a very different experience of the relationship. You might even be able to remember a relationship where the harder and harder you to get the interest of someone, the less interested they became is this a, is this a scary parallel for money or what it might be? It might not. The point is the thoughts and the beliefs that you have about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. So let’s uncover your current beliefs about money. I’m going to start by asking three questions and I’ll leave a little bit of space here for you to answer. If you’re using the words that move me worksheets by all means have a heyday. If not a plain old pen and paper or note in your phone should do just fine. 

Question number one is this, what comes to mind when you think about money?  What comes to mind, when you think about money? Do you think about catch phrases? Like money equals power or time is money or you have to work hard to make money? Or do you think more personal thoughts? Like, Oh, I’ll never be a millionaire as a dancer. When you think about money, do you think about the stuff that money buys do you think about the people who have it? Do you think about the people who don’t have it? When you think about money, do you think about disparities, pay gaps and equity? What comes up for you when you think about money, make a list of all your thoughts, or I suppose you could simply think them, but we will be coming back to this in a moment. Feel free to take a little more time if you would like. 

Question number two is a two-parter part one. Do you have a lot of money? And why? Part two? Do you want a lot of money? And why do you have a lot of money and why? And do you want a lot of money and why? Yes, my friends, we are doing it. We are uncovering your beliefs about the greenbacks. Okay. Next question. What were you taught about money from your parents, from your teachers, your role models, leaders, key figures, and even friends in your life. What were you taught about money? Were you taught that, that you need to hold on tight because you might lose it at any time. Were you taught that it takes money to make money? Um, were you taught that high risk equals high reward? What were you taught about money? Of course you can take as much time as you need here, but I’ll keep moving. 

My fourth question is simply what is money factually? What is money? Not your thoughts about money, but what actually is money. Of course I consulted the internet and the Internet’s definition of money is a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and bank notes. Yep. That’s it. Coins and bank notes. Uh, current medium of exchange money. Factually is neutral. There’s nothing in that definition that says money is good or money is bad, or even money is essential. It is a piece of paper or a coin that humans have all collectively agreed is worth something. Imagine an alien descends on earth lands here and finds a $100 bill on the ground and a dime. And let’s say a crushed up Carl’s Jr cup. They would have no idea which one has more value because humans have invented the construct that is money and humans have a lot of different thoughts about what it means.  Do you love that? In that scenario, I made this subtle assumption that aliens are real and that money is in fact neutral money itself by itself is a circumstance. It’s not until we think about it, that it holds any rank or pull on our lives. We think that it’s essential for survival. We think that we don’t have enough of it or that other people have too much of it. You can, and you probably do think many different thoughts about money than I do. We, the universal we, will all think different thoughts about money. And that is a beautiful and slightly scary thing. But the bottom line is that most of us think thoughts about money, not facts about money. The facts are the simple math, but the thoughts are usually simple drama. You know, that friend who makes everything extremely dramatic, nothing is okay. Everything is either amazing or awful. Yeah. That might be you a little bit with maybe it’s possible. So let’s focus on separating facts about money from thoughts about money. Take a look at your answers to the questions that I’ve asked. What comes to mind when you think about money, do you have a lot of it? Why do you want a lot of it? Why, what were you taught about it and look closely at your answers there? How much of that is money math and how much of that is money? Drama.  Challenge yourself by asking is this is, this is what I’ve written here really empirically true, or could someone else think something differently? Could someone else even with similar circumstances think differently. In other words, I’m asking, do you have a money problem or do you simply have money drama? No matter what the answer is to that question, the good news is that both the circumstance of money and your drama about it can be changed. Check that out. Pretty sweet. Huh? I think so. 

Now I want to deconstruct a very popular idea. This idea, that hard work putting in your time, saving up your money and making a budget will make you rich.  Time does not make money. Hard work does not make money. A budget does not make money. It might save money, but the only thing actually makes money is value. Value is a measure of the benefit provided by a good or service. And my friends, we definitely want to create benefits just like we want to reap the benefits, right? So how much benefit are you providing? How much potential do you have to create value in the world? What skills do you have that the world could use? What ideas do you have that the world is begging for? You can go ahead and start a list for that too. I love that list. Now, as a demonstration of this fact, this idea that time doesn’t make money and hard work definitely does not equal money. As a demonstration of that fact, I am going to call on a, um, a tweet that was made back in 2019. If you used Twitter or the internet in 2019, you probably this tweet floating around. I think the original author of it was Zach Walls. Um, he, he, he wrote, if you worked every single day, making $5,000 per day from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you’re reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Yikes. Let me just call that back. If you worked every single day for $5,000 a day from the time Christopher Columbus sailed to America, which was, I believe 1492. If my rhyme serves me correctly, um, until today, quote unquote, which was sometime in 2019, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Well, my friend, there has been some pretty intense fact checking and math mapping on that tweet. And at least the first part of it is still true to this day and will be true. The first part of it, um, meaning $5,000 every day from 1492 until today, you still would not be a billionaire. That part is true and will be true until 2054, indeed. It would take about 562 years at $5,000 per day to become a billionaire. So what does that tell us? Well, a, it tells us that Jeff Bezos has an almost unthinkable amount of money. Um, and that if you’re a dancer earning the 2019 median average hourly rate of $17.49 per hour, that’s about $139 and 92 cents per day, which is a far cry from $5,000 a day. Um, yeah, if you’re a dancer making the average median hourly rate, you’re far from becoming a billionaire, unless you think outside of the billable hours in a day, let’s take a look at Oprah for example, always let’s always look at Oprah. For example, Oprah didn’t become a billionaire by increasing her day rate or her hourly rate and simply working more hours. She did it by creating value that works and earns even while she’s sleeping, that my friends is the dream, no pun intended. So yes, do everything you can to build the skills that earn you top dollar in your field, create and contribute benefits in the world. And yes, and also look for or create ways that your money can make money without you lifting a finger. This might mean licensing your choreography. Shout out to last week’s episode or writing a book perhaps, or selling a product, or of course, keeping your money in a safe place with a high interest yield instead of under your mattress. I suppose, in, in the words of my dear friend, Marty Kudelka what I’m trying to say is work smarter, not harder and let your money do the same. 

Now, the next thing I want to talk about is emotions. Dana, why are you talking about emotions? This podcast episode is about money. Well, chill out and find out. I want you to take a moment and list all of the emotions that you associate with money, either having it or not having it doesn’t matter. A couple of examples are settled, safe, or struggling, glamorous, guilty, happy, scared, embarrassed, um, proud, free, greedy, accomplished, jealous, indulgent, superior inferior. Just rattle them off all of the emotions that you associate with money.  

Now I’m going to say something that you might not like money cannot make you feel any of the things on this list. Now you might be thinking, uh, no Dana, for sure. I’m telling you. I swear to God. If I had money and could pay my rent, I would be happy. I would feel safe. If I can just pay my rent again, I’ll ask you to challenge yourself here, strip away the drama. You think you would be happy if you could just pay your rent, but is it possible that you could pay your rent and still be very unhappy? Is it possible that someone with a lot of money paying their rent could feel unhappy or insecure even? Is it possible that someone with very little money could feel happy? Yes, of course it is. I like to think of, um, Bernie Madoff. When I talk about emotions and money, Bernie Madoff, I can remember his last name because he is the financial advisor slash market maker slash fraudster who, I think that’s a word, but I’m not sure. Um, who made off with a bunch of people’s money. He’s the confessed operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in world history. Um, the amount missing from his client’s accounts was almost $65 billion. And we’ve already talked about how much a billion is now. Here’s the thing. Bernie’s clients felt great investing their money with him because they thought keyword, they thought their money was in good hands. Their money was long gone, nowhere to be found, but they felt fine until they found out their money was gone and enter the drama. PS, Bernie Madoff must be in his eighties by now and is still in prison. So yahoo. Now of course, money itself, coins, paper. They don’t affect our emotions, but if you happen to believe that money and your emotions are directly linked, you may actually be avoiding money to avoid the feelings that you don’t want to associate with. You might actually be avoiding money to avoid feeling greedy or indulgent or self-centered or ego maniacal, or you may be chasing money thinking once I have it, I can finally feel free or happy or glamorous or proud or accomplished. And this is a problem. This is a problem because all feelings are available regardless of money. Period. I know some very, very wealthy people that are very, very unhappy and extremely insecure. I know a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck that are thrilled with their lives, Joyful, grateful, generous, giving. These are just two examples of the evidence that money itself and the having of it is not directly correlated to your emotions. So are you avoiding money because of the way it makes you feel? Are you avoiding looking at your checking account or balancing your books or emailing your CPA because you feel stupid when you do it? Past itself raises hand. I’ve definitely gotten better at this, but these are two really important questions to ask yourself, are you avoiding money because of the way that it makes you feel or are you chasing it because of the way you think you’ll feel when you have it? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, take a super pause and really zoom out, actually better yet. Zoom in, zoom in to that feeling that you’re, that you can’t handle feeling or zoom into that feeling that you’re chasing that you think is sitting there with the pot of gold under the rainbow. Zoom in on that feeling. Can you feel it? Can you imagine what it feels like in your body?  I bet you can feel that feeling right now. This, my friends is why managing your emotions is an excellent first step to managing your money now to show the importance of the way that you’re thinking with regards to money, we’re going to do a little experiment. 

Notice the difference in the way that you feel. When I mentioned these different scenarios. Imagine you go to the store and you buy $10 worth of food and drink or anything that $10 can buy. All right. That’s scenario one. How does that, how does thinking about that scenario make you feel? Scenario two is a little bit different. Let’s say when you went to the store, you had a $10 bill in your back pocket. And when you got to the store to buy the stuff, the $10 bill is not there. It’s fallen out. You’ve lost it. You’ve got all your stuff up on the conveyor belt, $10 not there.  How do you feel? Next scenario. Let’s say you’re eating out with a friend and they have lost or forgotten their wallet. So you say, dude, no worries. I got you. It’s just 10 bucks. You from your friend, your friend, 10 bucks for them. Yeah. How does that feel?  Say this next scenario, you pay $10 for an online class. This is a teacher that you love. You get a great class. How does that feel? Notice the difference you feel when you think you are losing money versus spending money versus lending money versus investing the actual math of it is all exactly the same money goes out. That’s what happened in all of those scenarios. You bought things at the store, you lost the $10 bill. You covered your friend, you loaned your friend $10. Um, you paid $10 for an online class. The math is the same $10 out. The rest of it is drama. The drama says I should get something. When money goes out, the drama says that when you lose money, you get nothing but inconvenience in return. The drama says that when you loan money, you’re helping and that feels good. And depending on the situation, you might even think you’ll get it back.  The drama says that when you invest, you think you’ll get it back plus some, but all are simply money out. So what if you could think of the dollar falling out of your pocket as paying for a lesson, maybe not a dance lesson, but a lesson in where to put your money. What if you could think of the money falling out of your pocket as lending money to someone else thinking that you’re helpful? Certainly it feels better than thinking that you’re reckless or that the universe is somehow unfair and his targeted you. What, if you could think that you will absolutely get that $10 back someday, 100%. That’s going to come back to you. If you truly believe that you would get that $10 back, I bet the way you treat the person at the checkout counter, when you realized your $10 was gone would be different. I bet the way you talked to yourself in that moment would be different. I really encourage you to start noticing the language that you use with yourself. When you think about money, not just the money out, but the money in as well.  Think about making money versus earning money versus creating money. Do those generate different, different feelings in your body, different modes of being. For me It sure does. When I think about earning money, I am absolutely thinking about working. But when I think about creating money, there’s all sorts of different possibilities. There, possibilities that don’t necessarily include me busting through the cartilage in my knees. 

Now, while we’re on the subject of trying on new words and new thoughts, when you’re thinking about money, you may notice that I have not yet mentioned abundance mentality and his entire episode about money mindset. I haven’t talked about abundance mentality. That is because I think there is a lot of, uh, excuse me, bull*** around the power of positive thinking. When it comes to money, taping a $100 bill to your ceiling and looking at it every morning and night will not make you rich thinking that you are a millionaire, doesn’t make you a millionaire, but thinking like one and then taking massive action, sometimes massive risk. Well that might help you to become one.  The numbers are the numbers. What you earn is what you earn, what you spend is what you spend, what you have is what you have. And what you’d like to have is what you’d like to have. That’s all math, everything else is drama. And it’s optional. Please. Don’t forget to take a look at the worksheet companion to this episode and the rest of the money March episodes. I’m really hopeful that they will help you gain clarity of your thoughts and feelings around money. They are also a very interesting time capsule type project, a really cool thing to do once, maybe twice a year returned to reference back to, and really kind of clock how those thoughts, feelings, and yes, the math changes over time. Highly, highly recommend, okay, everybody that is it for me today. Next week I will be joined by not only a dancer, but a CPA as well. And yeah, that’s one person I’m super excited about next week’s episode. It’s entirely Q and A. So anything that’s come up for you in this episode or in the last two, all things money March, bring your questions about money, bring your questions about contracts, my guests, and I will do our very best to answer all your Qs. Get out in the world. Everybody be kind, and please Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit  TheDanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #64 Money March Pt. 2 CHOREOGRAPHERS

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #64 Money March Pt. 2 CHOREOGRAPHERS
/

Let’s talk ORGANIZATION! Choreographers and their teams (assistant choreographers, associate choreographers, co-choreographers etc.) along with production assistants are the ONLY category of workers on Film/ TV/ Commercial sets that do not have Union representation.  What does that mean? It means no minimum daily rate, no Health & Pension contributions, no residual structures, no penalties for overtime, or turnaround time.  Why does that matter? Because DANCE and the people who make it are pillars of popular culture (to say the very very least). 

In this episode, I talk to two time Emmy award winning choreographer, Kathryn Burns and Craig Baylis.  Craig is a former dancer who has gone onto work in damn near every sector of entertainment from Artist Development & Tour Marketing to Product Management and even SAGAFTRA member and Staff.

In this episode we scratch the surface of several deep and delicate issues from daily minimum rates (and what’s so great about em) to supply and demand, licensing, and even copyright of choreography.

The learning curve set ahead of choreographers is steep.  We must teach ourselves AND the record labels and studio big wigs on the other side of the negotiation table what we do and what that is worth.  Grab a pen and paper, and get ready to study up!

Quicklinks:


Choreographers Alliance: https://www.choreographersalliance.org/
Dancers Alliance: https://www.dancersalliance.org/
Sagaftra: https://www.sagaftra.org/

Transcript:

Ep. #63 Money March Pt.1 DANCERS

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #63 Money March Pt.1 DANCERS
/

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.

Quick Links:

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 

Money Book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6705806-the-money-book-for-freelancers-part-timers-and-the-self-employed

Transcript:

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  

Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the theDanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon, Bye!

Ep. #34 Talk to My Agents with Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien (Audition August Episode 3)

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #34 Talk to My Agents with Meisha Goetz and Tim O'Brien (Audition August Episode 3)
/
Tim O’Brien, the founder of Clear Talent Group, and Meish Goetz, (Co-director of the Dance department and much more) join me on the pod to give their side of the audition story. Look out for some interesting takes on the role of the internet in auditions, and learn exactly what agents do! These two offer real talk, and real wisdom about a real tough market. Communication is key in a creative industry. Listen to these agents and walk away supported, informed, and inspired!

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Clear Talent Group: http://cleartalentgroup.com/about/

Transcript:

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, Hello and welcome. This is words that move me. I’m Dana and I am as always jazzed about this episode. This is week three of audition August and I have not one, not two. Oh no, yes. Two. I have not one but two incredible guests that are going to offer some tremendously valuable insights on, um, the dance market and what that means for auditions. And auditioners. Um, I do want to jump right into that, but first wins.  

If you are new to the show, we start every episode off with wins. I tell you mine and get yours ready because you are up next. Okay. Today I am celebrating a future win. Go with me here. Today, I’m celebrating that a year from today, August 19th, 2021. The podcast has reached 100,000 downloads. Ooh. Oh my gosh. That feels so good to say that I’m so proud of my future self. Okay. I know what you’re thinking. Probably two things actually. Number one thing. Wow. That’s really silly and very bold to proclaim such a huge goal so publicly, and then celebrate it before you actually achieve it. Oh my gosh. That’s going to hurt so bad when you fail. That might be what you’re thinking. Um, well, if you are thinking that, to you I would say yes, it is bold to proclaim such a huge goal so publicly. And yeah, I might fail quote fail, but I’ve been practicing being willing to fail publicly for over 15 years now of working in TV film and on stage, I am a pro at being willing to fail publicly, but just imagine how bad I would fail If I didn’t tell you the downloader that my personal goal is to reach 100,000 downloads. That is what is really silly. And now that you may see my point, you might be thinking, all right, okay, how can I help? Well, if you dig what you hear, then keep it with you. Download the podcast. If you’re using Apple podcasts, this might not be as easy or intuitive as I wish it was. It’s certainly not as intuitive as they think it is. So if you struggle downloading the podcast, DM me, @wordsthatmoveme podcast on Instagram or contact me at my website, theDanawilson.com at very very least, it’s a perfect excuse for us to be in touch. Okay, now you go, what’s going well in your world.  

Killer. Congratulations. I am so glad that you are winning. Please do keep it up. Actually. I’m so glad that we’re talking wins right now because this episode has some really valuable insights about wearing your wins and shedding your losses. Okay. Let’s get into it. As the entertainment industry starts to turn back on, think dimmer switch, not on off switch by the way, how dim is it? Oh, we’re going to tell you exactly how much less work is coming through the pipeline this summer relative to recent years. And what does that mean about our responsibilities as dancers, agents, creatives, or even as consumers of dance, whether you are a seasoned pro new to the game or simply a dance fan. This episode is for you because today we’re talking to talent agents, specifically two of my agents from Clear Talent Group. First step is the lovely Meisha Goetz She has her hand in the dance choreography and digital departments over at clear talent group. And we are also joined by the president of CTG himself, Mr. Tim O’Brien. He is joining us with many, many years of experience and an Eagle’s eye view of this COVID moment in our history. These two offer real talk real discussions about a real tough market. And I think you will walk away feeling informed and inspired. So let’s get to it. Enjoy Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien from Clear Talent Group. 

Oh my gosh. I’m so excited. Thank you so much for joining me today. This is Audition August where we seek to demystify the almighty audition, and if we happen to eliminate other dark corners of the industry, then so be it. I am joined by the lovely Misha Goetz and the one and only Tim O’Brien. Hello. Hello. And thank you for joining me. Hello.  

Tim: Hi, Dana. It’s good to see you.  

Dana: It’s. It’s good to see you guys too, albeit on a two dimensional surface. Yeah. Um, all right, so it’s it’s podcast tradition here to have my guests introduce themselves. Uh, why don’t we go ladies first? Meish..

Meisha: Sure, um, hello. My name is Meisha Goetz and I am one of the co-directors in the dance department at Clear Talent Group. And I also am an agent in the choreography department as well as the digital department. 

Dana: Awesome. All right, Tim, who are you?  

Tim: Hi, I’m Tim O’Brien. I’m the president of Clear Talent Group. Um, prior to that, I was a professional dancer for 10 years, and then I started one of the very first, uh, departments dedicated just to dancers a long time ago and, uh, have evolved into now owning my own agency and having, um, a wonderful group of agents like Meisha.  

Yes, and a wonderful group of, uh, talent, which includes me as a matter of fact. Um, alright, so I have a billion questions for you, both and, um, probably some semi sensitive ones given the sensitive nature, or maybe I’ll say unusual nature of our industry right now. Um, but I would love to talk about obviously auditions in the before time and the auditions that you guys are seeing go out into the world now, um, while productions are certainly under different limitations than they normally are. But before we dig into that, um, Meisha, could you talk through, this is a tough one. Could you talk through the very broad strokes, the, the flow of information and the flow of actions, the flow of tasks that happen from the minute your phone rings and the person on the other side is looking for talent to the moment when the talent is cashing their check. 

Meisha: Yeah, absolutely. Um, Broad, broad sense. Our job is to provide a service to either our clients or to the buyer on the other side. So when we get a phone call, we are trying to collect as much information as humanly possible. So that’s pretty much in simple terms, the who, what, where, when and why. So we’re collecting rates. If there’s a spec, if there’s a choreographer attached, um, and then from there it can go in two separate directions. They could either be requesting a submission from us, or it can go straight into an audition process. So in which it’s an open call, whoever fits the specs is getting the audition. Nowadays, we’re not having in-person auditions at all pretty much. So it’s all pretty much either direct booking, right? Direct bookings right now, or submission based. So this is when let’s just say, we’re going to go to go down a submission path. We’ll put together a submission, we’ll email it to the buyer. And a buyer is a producer, a casting director or choreographer. From there, we send this submission, we wait on selects. We may send a followup or two to make sure that they received.  Once we receive this selects, then we are sending out the audition. I’m sending out the audition, we’re making phone calls to make sure that you receive the information if we haven’t heard from you. And then we’re going to text you. And from that point we formulate a list is then back to the buyer of who is planning on submitting their self-tape and they, and this state of the world. If anyone decides not to self-tape, that is our opportunity as agents to potentially pitch people that weren’t selected. Sometimes it’s a hit. Sometimes it’s a miss, really just varies. And then, then it’s just the waiting game. You know, you’re getting submissions, you’re making sure that they’re following all the instructions properly because that’s a shoe in if you’re not. And then from there, you know, the review process becomes on the buyer’s side, we wait for a booking, but prior to the booking, we’re getting avails. And then sometimes the avail goes into a hold. And then from the hold we’ll receive the booking, where we get all the details all comes together. And that’s my personal favorite part is of course, making a phone call to the clients, letting them know that they booked the job. And then the job happens, right? The best part, the job happens from there. We, if it’s a nonunion job, then we are collecting hours. We’re asking our clients, if there’s hazardous conditions onset, where did you have to wear your own wardrobe to make sure that we’re invoicing properly. And then from there we’re really money chasers every week we’re falling, you know, sending followups to the production companies to make sure that they’re getting paid on a timely basis.  

That was so all encompassing. I’m very impressed and very clear. Thank you for that. Talk through it.  

Tim:  If I may just interject during that process is so important for the dancers to stay in contact with their agents. There’s so many times we put out calls and emails on a Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning, the staff has to come in and start chasing down the people that didn’t respond. And, uh, it can, it says the word I, that you always have to think of when you’re dealing with your agent, when we’re dealing with both the buyer and the talent is communicate, communicate, communicate as a choreographer, Dana, you know that the worst thing that can happen is you think you have your eight dancers and you book your eight dancers and you’re excited. And you know, I only to find out that one of them isn’t available. And, uh, so we try to avoid that at all costs. And the only way we can do that is by communicating. So I just can’t say enough about how important it is for the dancers to communicate with us so that we can represent them properly.  

Right? Communication must be the most important part of this agent dancer relationship at every moment at every, in between stage Meisha of the, of the talk through, you just gave it every moment that information changes hands is an opportunity for there to be a misunderstanding. Um, it’s just like, honestly, it’s a pretty big game of telephone. 

Absolutely! And I think what that experience the best is when clients were saying is communicative. And if they do have questions that we have created an environment for our clients, that they feel open enough. So whether that’s a text or call or email to make sure that when they walk through the room, they’re complete understanding the best of abilities, what job they’re about to be representing.  

That’s crystal clear. That’s awesome. Um, I do want to draw some attention. You mentioned that on a nonunion job when you’re collecting hours and keeping track of hazardous conditions, that’s really on the dancer to be recording those details on the job. I think that’s something that not that most dance studios don’t prepare their dancers for is to how to not only deliver the dance goods, but to also be receiving information about what’s happening on set what’s in alignment with the way things should be going and what isn’t. And, and then of course, the way to ask for those things to be, um, you know, reconciled. Yes. Um, okay. Tim, let’s zoom out a little bit if we could. I’m so curious and I’m slightly afraid to ask, um, relative to say last summer around this same time, how much work is coming through the pipeline right now in 2020? 

How much is coming through the pipeline?  Um, not much. It’s, uh, I think, uh, especially in the live event world Broadway is totally shut down. Um, all kinds concerts are really shut down. You might hear about some body doing something at a drive in movie, which is a cute idea, but it’s usually, you know, occasionally you see that kind of thing. It’s a very tough market. It’s it’s I hate to give percentages, but it’s probably 10 or 20% of what it was last year. I mean, the last couple of years as you started this whole podcast was market. The business was really doing well. Dance has become extremely popular. Um, not just on a TV with the reality shows it’s been in movies and television and concerts, and it’s, you know, it was a great market and it’s just, you know, the brakes are on and, uh, you can’t, you just can’t, nobody’s going to be sitting shoulder to shoulder at staple center watching their favorite pop star is not going to happen.  So it’s been hit pretty hard. And I think, um, that’s, that’s a reality that I don’t know about you, but when we first had our meeting at Clear Talent Group, I think on or about March 17th and before we started working at home, when I do go to the office, now we still have St Patrick’s day decorations. I mean, that’s what it is. I’ll start. Wow. And we thought, well, this could be a month, you know, maybe it’s six weeks. And then, then it became, it’s going to be three months. And now I think it’s really going to be 2021. And with the vaccine that we’re going to start getting back to normal. And I do think, and I know we’ll get back to normal, but yeah, we can’t kid ourselves. The market is, uh, slowed down enormously. And, um, I think it’s important. That’s why we, you know, we’re one of the few agencies that has a dedicated influencer department and, uh, the timing was good on that. And we’re trying to encourage our dancers to do all kinds of creative things, um, such as Dana Wilson started a podcast. Yeah. Um, so yeah, the answer to the question is this it’s off. I would say it’s off by 80% at least. It’s just the, market’s just not there. And then we are getting some movies and some, uh, episodic TV shows that are kind of giving us a heads up. Um, but that’s become like, uh, that, yeah, we’re going to start shooting in August. And then in middle of July, we’re going to start shooting, It actually is going to be September. And then, well, it’s going to be October. And then you start hearing about people saying it’s going to be 2021. Um, they just, you know, look, what’s happening. You have to, you know, I think it is important for dancers to pay attention to the world. And unfortunately this pandemic has been a huge wake up call that you do have to pay attention to the world and to our community, large and small. So yeah, it’s a, it’s not a good market. Now you have to, you know, as a dancer, I think you have to, we’ll get, I think we’ll get into this, but you have to keep your chops up and be ready for when it comes back. But, uh, you just have to start thinking of creative ways of, um, of not just working and generating income, which of course is important, but also keeping your sanity. You know, so yeah, to answer your question, uh, the market, um, is not good.  

Copy that. Um, so can we talk about where dancers are landing in the market today? I think dance is having a bit of a high point when we look at things like Tik Tok and all of the shows, the dance shows on TV, um, uh, movie musicals are having a bit of a comeback moment. I think dance is very cool to be a dancer right now. Um, Tim, could you talk about specifically in the digital space, the role of a dance influencer, like internet seems to be really helping dance. Um, how does that help you as an agent and how might that hurt you as an agency? You know, the, the role of the internet and how my dance and dance influencers, um, be affecting dancers themselves in the digital space?  

Well, I think that, um, with dancers working as influencers in the digital space, it’s a whole new market and anytime you can open up a new market, it’s great for your industry and then this case for the dance industry. So it gives a lot more, uh, there’s more options for dancers. Uh, there’s more ways to, um, to monetize your talent. And, um, so I think it’s a, it’s a, it’s a win, win. It’s a win for the dancers. It’s a win for the agents. How could it hurt? Um, the one thing about anytime we get into new markets, when music videos first started, and now with this, there’s a bit of a wild, wild west that happens. And, uh, producers, some of them not experienced, some of them very experienced will want to work directly with the dancer, with the influencer in this case. And it’s, it’s sounds like something that your agent tells ya, and, but it’s true.  And that is a producer. Any producer will deal with the dancer or the artist in a different manner than they’ll deal with the artist representative. So you do get a percentage of influencers that want to do it all on their own, or they want to know calling an agent when they get in trouble. Well, maybe they didn’t get paid or the money wasn’t when it was supposed to be. Um, so I guess that’s how it could hurt the dance market is, uh, they’re, they’re, they’re then can become a race to the bottom if, uh, if, if, uh, if we’re not careful, but generally I think it’s really good for them. And I think it’s good for us. And, uh, it’s an exciting new world. It’s, uh, you know, uh, right at the top of the news today, you know, the, president’s talking about getting rid of Tik Tok, which is just shocking. Um, but, uh, so I think it’s a win, win, and, uh, but like anything else you just have to proceed carefully and, uh, and rely on your agents. We’re here for a reason. We’re here to help dancers. That’s my mission in life is, you know, how can we help dancers make it a better world for dancers and improve not just their income, but their working conditions and to make sure they’re being treated right. And their images are being misused. So it’s all good. It’s all good.  

It’s all good. You’re bringing up some really important, um, parts of your responsibility as an agent and your roles as an agent, which I think some people might not have considered. I think in the minds of many, the agent is the person that gets you paid, but it’s so, so, so much more.  

Um, I have though heard of a few projects and it kind of blows my mind that things actually still are happening, but I’ve heard of a couple commercials where they’re working remotely. They will quote location scout, somebody’s home via a zoom call where the, um, the talent walks their laptop through their house showing this is where my bed is. This is a window. This is, you know, my kitchen. This has this much space. It’s five feet from here to here, 12 feet from here to here. And then the director will decide, okay, move your bed over to the other corner. So people are shooting like talent, The dancer is becoming the set decorator. Um, like they’ll receive a package in the mail, that’s a lighting kit and they’ll set up their own lights. They’ll set up their own camera. They’re given a tripod, they have to balance the tripod.  They’re given an iPhone or some other camera. What I’m seeing in the few examples that I know of, of work still happening, where the talent is becoming responsible for almost all parts of the project. There’s still a voice on the other side directing them. But wow. Um, I can’t imagine somebody who’s new to the game. Being able to take all of that on without knowing some basic camera terminology and onset language, without being able to speak with a director and take direction, be inside enough to deliver an awesome product, but outside enough to be taking direction, moving the camera, moving the light, doing all these things. So as the amount of work has gone down, is it safe to say that it’s so competitive that this might be the hardest time to catch a break? 

Yeah. I think you brought up a lot of really important topics. Um, First I want to touch how you mentioned how dancers are having to become their own set designers, creative directors through this process. And I will say that, you know, us as agents have had to adapt to that as well as they’re taking on new roles of being their own makeup artists, and hair artists, we had to adapt on our side to make sure that we’re asking for that digital compensation because of the time spent on those things. 

And resources, right? Like actual my makeup, actual my hair equipment, actual my space, like my actual space. So, so those talks are happening in the negotiation. Those things are being accounted for. 

Absolutely. And as they come up and that just once again, bringing up communication is so important for the clients to communicate with us that these things are happening because otherwise there’s no way of us. We’re not there. There’s no way of us knowing that those things are happening. 

Okay. So,  

Uh, Dana, if I could just interject on the other question you said, is it harder to get for a dancer to get a break? And I’ll answer a lot of this. Um, as agents, when we discover a new young talent and we really want you, you, the choreographer to see them, um, there’s nothing that is the same as getting them in the room. And how many times have you gone into a room and you have your favorites, you have the people you like, and you see that one person and you fall in love, you see them and you think I want to hire this person. They’re, they’re ready. And they’re, they’re talented. And they’re beautiful. And you kind of, as the day goes on in your audition, you, you actually created almost an emotional attachment. You want to give that person the first break. That’s really hard to do digitally it’s If we’re going to submit 20 self tapes you’re as the choreographer, you’re going to be, you’re going to be drawn to those people that, you know, can do the job, right. Even if they’re all in different rooms somewhere, and that’s the final shoot you were talking about commercials, just pay attention to how many commercials. Now it’s not 20 people or 10 or five people in a shot. It’s five shots of individual people. So, so it’s much harder I think, to get a break. Um, and so it’s tough. It’s a tough market. And that’s why the, especially the younger dancers, they really need to stay on their job, which their job definition right now is stay in shape, uh, take digital classes, um, make sure your pictures are ready because there’s going to be the day. And I think it’s not that far away. I think early 2021, where it’s going to take off again. Cause once we can start shooting, I mean, I have you watched everything on Netflix yet. Cause I’m getting close. So they need, they need, uh, they need material to go on Netflix and Amazon and Apple TV and Disney channel. Um, and they don’t have it because they’re not shooting. And so when things do start, my advice is be ready. But in answering your question, yeah, it’s hard for a young dancer to get a break, right. There’s less opportunities. And um, and there’s less ways to get at.  

Yeah, I’ve heard actually a few choreographers use this term. I know Calvit Hodge has used it. And so as from Jamal Sims and they say, stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. And I love that.

It’s such a good quote, such a good mantra and thing to repeat. Um, especially in moments like this, where it is so tempting to take a little bit of a COVID vacation co-vacation, if you will. Um, I really like Tim, what you said about the need for more content. It didn’t dawn on me until this moment that the rate of consumption of media right now is probably higher than it’s ever been before. There will be huge demand for fresh new material enter talent. Right. So that’s really important. I think to remember,  

Just think of some of the jobs like, um, we have Zach Woodley is not in Utah doing high school musical. Um, but they’re not, I think, I don’t think they’re halfway through the season. They need a season. So when they can, they’re going to start shooting. Um, and uh, little mermaid came back from London. Um, movie’s not done. Those are just the projects that had started. And then if you start thinking of the projects that want to start, it’s going to be, I think, and I hope I’m right. I think it’s going to be a bit of a boom town that, um, once you can shoot, once we do get a vaccine and uh, we can really get back to work. I think, um, in our business it is going to be, it may be a, like a slight dimmer switch turning on. It might not be a full light switch, but it’s going to go on and it’s going to start burning bright, uh, at some point and it’s going to be a lot of stuff out there ready to go to work.  

Cool. I, I think that is a very hopeful thought. I will choose to keep that thought. Um, I do want to, I do want to circle back to what you mentioned around the audition, however, how nothing can be a substitute for that in-person in the room face to face exchange. So I hear you loud and clear, but I do want to add another angle, um, especially, and this is from the talent end of things. Actually, I love being asked to self submit to self-tape because I get to control all of the things I get to decide If I do 45 takes. I get to decide where my light is. If I change my outfit six different times, based on how it looks on camera. I get to choose the edit. I really enjoy that element. Um, and perhaps this is because I’m a person that has a decent technical aptitude for video editing, music editing, et cetera.  But, um, I’m wondering if there are any things, any elements, be it in the audition or otherwise that are happening now that you think won’t go away. Like the self-tape is, has always existed, but was used much less. Will it be used more? Is it useful? Is it helpful? Is it cheaper than renting space and having a massive cattle call, um, is, is the talent using their own lights and doing their own hair and makeup going to be something that stays because it’s cheaper. Is it visibly that much worse than the alternative? Like what, what things are we seeing now that you think will stay even in the new normal? 

Yeah, I mean, to be completely honest, I think that we were already straying less and less away from open auditions. There were hardly as much open auditions from when I started at the agency to right before COVID hit. So yeah, I think that concept is going to be more and more, at least it’s going to be more submission based, more direct bookings and more, um, select auditions. So private auditions.

Dana, let me ask you as a choreographer. Um, if, if you look at self-tapes, cause I think earlier on if we people would send us tapes and we would look at that tape and decided where we wanted to see them in person, this was back in the good old days, about five years ago. Um, uh, as a choreographer don’t you want to see, I mean, if you have to kind of separate the people that you know, and you work with, you have a relationship with, or that you’ve seen and you admire, from the people that you haven’t seen. So if you see somebody who submits a self-tape, uh, do you want to see them in person or do you want to, are you okay with just seeing the self tape and saying I’ll hire that, that person.  

You know what? You’re bringing up a great, an excellent point. The answer for me is both. I love a first round, like first like massive dump of video submissions that I can scrub through very quickly determine, you know, it’s true. What they say on performances. Start big, finish big fill in the middle. I will, I will watch the beginning of somebody’s submission and the end. And if I need any more information, I’ll go look for it. But that saves me a lot more time than, than inviting one at one at a time into the room or five at a time into the room teaching a two minute combination watching a two minute combination, like that takes a lot of time. And I actually, I don’t so much mind having the scrub process takes far less time, but then at the end of that scrub process, you’re right, Tim, I want to see the human and I want to know how they interact because it’s not just the talent that matters. It’s the directability, the energy, the relationship, the openness of the person to really get the job done, which is less obvious in a video submission than it isn’t.  

And sometimes it’s behavior in the room. One of the funniest auditions I ever observed, uh, the choreographer at the very end, uh, was getting ready to take a group of 10 dancers on a tour. And he was really ruminating and trying to make those last decisions. You got 20 people in the room, you’re trying to pick the eighth and he’s looking at it and he’s talking to his assistant and finally he looks up and um, I’ll use a different word, but he said, can I get the hands of the jerks that are out there? You know who you are? He didn’t use the word jerks. Um, he said, you know who you are. You’re the one that’s always, you know, making trouble when It’s not necessary. Can I just get your hands? And all the dancers kinda just looked at each other. I thought it was a hysterical.   

Did anybody raise their hand? 

Nobody raised their hand, nobody raised their.. but you understand the point. You’re trying to get a vibe. You’re trying to get a feel, especially when you’re going on the road or when you’re doing a movie. Look how long you were In the Heights when you’re choreographing that it’s, it’s, it’s a family you’re together every day. And it’s important to be able to pick up the vibe of the people that this is so important to be comfortable in the room you like to work with the people you like to work with. And so one of the challenges for a dancer is how do you become one of those people that people like to work with? 

Yes. And how do you get that across if you are that person that, but they don’t know it yet. How do you genuinely genuinely translate that, um, in an audition experience or in a self tape, even, um, how does that come across? How do you actually.. 

Yeah, I mean, it’s like right now, when I’m at the market or wherever with a mask, I almost want to tell people I’m smiling in this conversation.  

Who was I just telling this? My smiles have now transferred there in my whole body when I’m wearing a mask, my body smiles and I just bounce so that people know I’m kind. Um, it’s so funny that you mentioned that. I was just saying that it’s so funny. Um, okay. I love this story, Tim of this, like getting down to brass tacks, asking the room. Okay. Be real with me. Who, who are you like, how do you behave? Um, I’ve been in the room when similar, awkward in the audition room that is. When similar questions are asked as like this narrowing down of people. And it can feel very, um, uh, dehumanizing to an extent actually I think auditions are in general. It’s not uncommon. And I think it will be addressed. Um, when we see our world get back to normal, at least I hope to see this change. Um, a little bit less black girls over there, white girls over here. No, no, no, honey, you go, you go with the Brown girls. Okay. Red heads over there. It’s it’s like very extremely dehumanizing and insensitive. Um, I hope to see it change. Um, but I’m curious, Meisha, do you have any other, um, hopes for the way that auditions will change moving forward? 

Yeah. And I think that you brought up a really great point and I think that we are starting to see that change just this week. Uh, casting directors are changing their language. When they’re asking for submissions with, please tell me we’re done with ethnically ambiguous. Yes. I haven’t seen ethically ambiguous in the past week. I would say, 

What does it mean?  It’s almost like sending me people are there ethically I don’t know, right? It’s almost makes no sense. 

It seems very hurtful in a way to me to just say, okay, others, you others versus like you actuals you real things. You, you identities. 

You know, in the past have been asked to revise our submission because what exactly what that statement is, what exactly is ethically ambiguous? So we could submit and they could be like, Oh, we didn’t ask for this. 

Interesting. 

And then you’re like, well you, what, what are we supposed to be getting off of? So I think people are at the end of the day, right now, it’s a positive change that we’re seeing. And for example, there was a submission and they said, people, humans they are starting to use those type of terminology, which is refreshing to see 

Opposed to women or men?

Exactly.  And the end of the day, we’re all humans. 

So I love this. I love this so much. Okay. I’m so glad to hear that. Agents are starting to see a positive shift in the language of audition notices and casting breakdowns. I am jumping out here because I want to share a teachable moment, no matter what your job title, agent, casting director, teacher, talent, public figure, or private figure. You are a leader to someone, someone is looking to you for what to say and how to act. People in those leadership roles. And again, that means all of us, all of us are a leader to someone, people in leadership roles must demonstrate an effort to be culturally sensitive and progressive. It is our responsibility to employ the language and the actions that reflect the values of the world that we want to live in. The world that we are creating. If I’ve learned one thing since starting this podcast, it’s that words are important. Yes, words fall in and out of fashion. Yes, they hold different meanings in different contexts. Yes, I will almost certainly wish I had used them differently, but they are important. All right. With that said, let’s jump back in and hear Meisha demystify and decode some common audition language.  

I have seen a handful of times, some very coded language come through on audition breakdowns, which is what the buyer is asking for things for example, like dress, body conscious or looking for ethnically ambiguous people. Could you demystify what those words mean? Or, and are there any others that you think might be easily misunderstood? Any, any kind of code language that somebody new to the industry might not speak yet? 

Yeah, I think that’s a really great question. And sometimes, honestly we are trying to figure it out ourselves, but I think what’s really important is to understand the artists that you were making that submission for or the brand that you’re making that submission for. So body conscious going into a Beyonce audition is going to be completely different then going into a Ryan Heffington for example, body conscious audition. So, and that’s what our clients can and should utilize us for is I will have clients text me outfit options to make sure that what they’re auditioning in is going to be best represented and that they’re not going to walk in and be like, well, you said body conscious, but could mean literally pretty much anything that is form fitting to you. It doesn’t always have to mean I’m going to be wearing minimal clothing. It could just mean, I want to see your lines, our job to determine what that means for this specific project that we’re working on. 

Okay. Love that. So there’s this element of like, if, if communication is mom, then dad is like research, right? Talk, get the information and then research. Do your homework, figure out what that means in this specific instance. 

Absolutely. And I always see the most successful dancers that I have seen are the ones that if you’re going in for a commercial audition, per se, that you’re researching the brand’s history, that you are looking at previous brands that the in previous ads that have been ran by the company and see what direction they’re moving towards, tried to base your decisions of what you’re wearing and how you’re going to walk in from your research. And we’re here to help you with that research as well. 

Oh man. Oh, I used to be a person that fast forwarded through commercials. You know, I loved my shows and I wanted to just be in the show. But since I started working in commercials and since I’ve had the help of a handful of commercials in making a down payment on a home, I now watch commercials very carefully. And I really enjoy the things that I learned and observed. One of the things that I’ve noticed about commercials is almost always, you’ll see wedding rings on lead people. Married people apparently are trustworthy. They make good decisions. We want to be like that. Another thing that I noticed, and I, whenever I teach audition workshop or audition skills in, in any of my classes, um, I ask people for the last time they saw a belly button in a commercial that was not for Pepto Bismal or Tums, yet most of the dancers, I know when they go audition for a commercial, they’re wearing a midriff shirt. I’m like really? When was the last time you saw that happen on the commercial? Not very often. So I think when auditioning for commercials, yes. The idea of body conscious is certainly more conservative than if we’re talking music videos. In which case I cannot recall the music video where there was not visible belly button. Okay. So know what you’re going in for big, big thing.  

Um, okay. Let’s, I’d like to open to both of you, and this is like the kernel of what I would love to, for my listeners to walk away with today. What do your clients that are consistently working consistently do and what do they not do that keeps them working? 

I think the dancers that are consistently working are the dancers that take their career and they put it as, as dancers you are your own business entity and the dancers that have a business mindset and take their careers as such are the ones that tend to be most successful successful. So the do’s and the don’ts, I think we touched upon this in, at the end of the day, people want to be around good people, kind humans, people that they enjoy being around. And that is priceless. There could be the most talented dancer in the world, but they don’t have a good attitude at the end of the day, that’s is going to get around danceville. Like I used to, like I like to say dance world is very small and it can be extremely damaging to a career. So be a good human, keep your relationships up, stay in communication with your team and treat yourself as you should as your own business. 

Tim, do you have anything you’d like to add to that?  

You know, I always say look for when I used to audition and if I didn’t get the job, which happens all the time, um, less and less as life as went on. Um, anyway, I like to, I would make a point of going to see, see that show on TV to see who they did hire. I would even sneak into studios to watch them rehearse, to see who they hired. Cause I wanted to know, okay, why did they hire that guy and not me? Um, but at the end of the day, the dancers that work all the time, if you look at them, they’re really good. They, they are really good and not just really good technique. They know how to perform on camera. They know how to, uh, to act in the room. It’s like what you were talking about with self-tapes. They know how to self-tape they’ve taken the time to learn this.  

And, and it gets back to also being somebody that people want to work with on a personal level. So I don’t know really it’s there’s people you’ll see them and you’ll see them in every job. And you think, and you don’t even have to think about it. It’s like, well, of course they got the job they’re perfect. And that can change from job to job. Um, one movie is definitely different than any other and you know, sometimes it’s just not your job. It’s yeah, there is no really other explanation other than, you know what, it’s not your job. It just didn’t come down your way. So you’ve got to move on.  

I love that you brought that up and I love that you’re a curious person who, who will follow up on the project instead of develop this, um, like scab about the project, right? You get cut. And then all of a sudden that project becomes the worst and you didn’t want it anyways and you know, forget them. And you don’t go back to look at it because it might be painful, but you look at what it was and you learn and you, you learn from what you might do differently next time. Um, it’s one of my favorite things when I’m auditioning, when I’m in the room to not watch the talented people auditioning, but to watch the people on the other side of the table and what they’re watching, I really like that you brought that up. I think it would be good practice for the dancers that are listening to, um, try as hard as you can to not develop the scar or the scab that will keep you from looking back at that project that you did not get that you thought that you would, but instead go back and look and say, Oh, okay, what, what was that? And why was that not me? Knowing that the answer to that is it’s okay, that it’s not me, but you can absolutely learn from that. If you go look,  

I love that you said that. And one theory of mine and I, you see it happen. Um, because we, we often have our clients and we want them to come to us and say, “Hey, you know, I’ve been to five auditions and I get to the end and I don’t get picked, or I don’t get to the end.” Um, and the advice I see it happen where people, they take their last audition, the last loss, the last rejection to the next audition. And if you’re not careful, I love that. You said, there’s there scabs or whatever you want to call it. They, they take that loss and they start owning it right. Instead of shedding it. And you have to just, it’s so many times you tell somebody, Hey, you did great. It just, this wasn’t your, this wasn’t the time for your, we had somebody else that was, um, you know, that was better.  But if you take that loss, if you take it personally and you drag that to the next audition and then the next, and then the next, and then what you have on your hand is a desperate, depressed dancer. And nobody wants to look desperate and depressed. Um, you have to take, um, you have to take joy in, into every audition and that’s what you do so well with everything you do. Um, you have to enjoy it. Why else are you dancing? You know, you’re dancing the emotion and the joy of it. So you have to be able to express that. And if you’re going to kind of lock down those feelings and own them, it’s going to be more and more difficult,  

Right? Especially if you are dancing in the commercial industry where the whole point of commercials is to sell the idea that life, with this thing, with this pop star, with this product, with this brand, whatever life with this thing is better. You’re more joyful. You’re more happy, which I do think is kind of a damaging attitude as far as mental health is concerned. But it’s, it’s part of what we’re asked to do is like demonstrate life with this thing is so great before I had Skechers. I didn’t dance, but when I have Sketchers on life is great and I’m joyful and all the things. So the, the capacity to be happy and joyful and resilient is definitely an attractive quality. Anytime I’m looking to book a dancer, um, fortunately for me, it’s part of my disposition to be joyful. I’ve actually gotten some criticism on that. Like Dana, could you please stop smiling? Um, but yeah, it’s to not bring Tim the word you used, the thing is so, so important, desperate. And after being knocked out of the ring so many times, it can, especially at a time like today, when many of us have gone without a job for so long, it may be hard to walk in the room without that tinge of desperation. But I think, again, I go back to asking, when was the last time you saw a commercial or a music video where the dancers behind the product or the, or the person looked desperate? Like that’s not a look that we seek. Um, the other one that I use as an example, when I’m teaching audition techniques is fear. Like when was the last time you saw somebody looking afraid behind Beyonce? Actually never like, that’s the look that doesn’t get you hired. So although it is usually the feeling somewhere underneath all of that being afraid is normal in an audition, but it’s certainly not the thing that you’re selling most often  

I think you have to approach it as a skateboarder, approaches his ride down the hill or a skier or a, you know, any of those challenges. Is it scary? Yeah. It’s a little bit scary, but you know, it’s a blast, like a basketball player getting into a game. You have to approach it as like, you know, I’m going to kill this and I’m going to have a good time doing it. Um, I used to love auditions. I hate getting cut, but I love auditions. 

That’s awesome. Um, Meisha, do you have anything else, any other audition stories, whether they’re your own or stories that you’ve heard, um, coming to you via clients that might be inspiring or otherwise very entertaining. 

Yeah. Um, honestly, there’s so many that come to mind. When you say that question, it’s hard to pinpoint one experience or even my own experiences in, you know, auditioning. But I will say there is seriously nothing better than hearing our client’s experiences after an audition. And that has been unfortunately, a little eliminated during this time because we have an open door policy, pre pandemic, where clients would audition. They come in, they’re sweaty, they’re telling their stories and you’re getting to know your clients better. And that’s the joy. One of the many joys of our job. But one time specifically, this is probably more recent. I would say was there was three audition. There was two major auditions happening at the same time with a major job taking up. I think there was 40 girls booked on this project. And one was a super bowl audition. One was a Superbowl commercial audition. And then one was for a major artist music video that 40 top industry girls were booked on. And they were all happening at the same time. So we were, I mean on a high, right? Like this cannot get any better for our dancers. And then you receive the times and the locations, they’re all the same time and they’re all spread across LA. So at this point we’re like, Oh my gosh, what are we supposed to be doing? So it was a thrill. I will have to say very least because thankfully the choreographers actually all work together. You know, you hear the buzz of course. And you know, dancers started asking the choreographers, Hey, can I leave for just 10 minutes? And that specific choreographer, right? 10 minutes, that specific choreographer that was holding a Superbowl audition said it was his last audition for the next four years. So everybody was like, I need, this is my chance to be at this audition. I was getting time changes for these auditions every 10, 20 minutes call times were changing for the music videos. I mean, it was, I woke up at 6:00 AM and it was just non nonstop and that whole day clients in and out, and that’s as the best. That’s what you, what you want for your clients.  

Can I interject right here? Dana? One thing I want to make a point to the dancers is how invested we as agents are in your careers and you could see it or hear it in Meisha’s voice when she was talking about that. We, we don’t represent people that we don’t want to represent. It’s we believe in you. We want you to work. That’s our mission in life is to help you find your way in this crazy career that we’ve all chosen. Um, so when we recommend somebody for a job is because we know you is the right person for the job, and we want you to get that job. And so when, when they come in and their heart’s broken because they didn’t get the job or they come in, because they said, they’re so excited, cause they did get the job or, you know, whatever it is and happens where we’re just totally into it and totally committed.  And it’s, it’s, uh, we live through you guys. So it’s, you know, you are our passion where we’re in this business. You can’t be a dance agent without being passionate about it without loving dance and loving the dancers. And, uh, I just, I just want dancers to know that we are, we, we believe in you, we are with you and we just want only success for you. And, and we also understand that it doesn’t always come that way, so we want to figure out, okay, what’s way around it. How are we going to get to that point? So just want to say that,  

Oh, I’m so glad that you did. And in fact, I cannot imagine winding winding off. I cannot imagine going out on a higher note Tim, that’s a brilliant sentiment and it must be true. I, I don’t know how you would sit through how many emails a day on average, do you think  

Hundreds 

Hundreds, hundreds of emails a day without being passionate and wanting to see, um, your client succeed. And I certainly do feel that enthusiasm from you guys in, in being a part of your team, um, feel so tremendously supported. And, and also I’m so glad Meisha that you shared that you mentioned this, the open door policy. I hadn’t really considered the side effect of the pandemic being this, um, the bright spot in your day of seeing my face, uh, experiencing the joy or in some cases, the terror of an audition, um, that, that piece of the agent/client relationship is missing right now. I hadn’t thought about it. I’m glad you brought that up. I think it’s a good reminder for everybody who has an agent right now to check in with them, tell them, hello, tell them a story from your life. And, um, and for all of those dancers seeking representation, um, don’t hide, put yourself out there, put your work out there. There will be a need for you and your talent. Um, and hopefully that need will be coming soon.  

Okay. Well, Dana, thanks so much for inviting us on your podcast. Um, you know, I’ve been a fan of yours ever since it was a Dancer’s Alliance meeting that you were heading. And I remember thinking, I love that woman. And I went up to you afterwards and just said, I just think you’re great. And uh, I always thought you should be in commercials. And you know, 

I remember this, this was before I was at Clear Talent Group. And you introduced yourself to me afterwards. I think you said, I think you said, who are you? Which I think is how I started this call with you. So how appropriate is that? Um, well, I, I feel seen, thank you guys so much and thank you for talking. I hope that everybody listening learned a lot as I know I have, and I just dropped my, um, uh, Fanny pack off my chair. So that made a great noise. We’ll we’ll go out.  

All right. Thank you. Thank you.  

You guys. I miss you miss they good. Stay good. Stay healthy 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a board member. So kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast  to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.