The Gig Economy: RIP?

Hey there!

I’m seeing more and more articles decrying the depressing actual results for the people providing services to sites promoting the gig economy: Uber and Lyft drivers, DoorDash and GrubHub food deliverers, and so on.

One of them even has the headline “The Sharing Economy Was Always A Scam.” Harsh.

But, we have our own gig economy in the world of performance. It’s called Fiverr.

How long will it take for people to realize that sites like that can just as depressingly destructive as working for a big corporate behemoth?

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Raw YouTube Captioning

hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
and here we are five ten depending upon
how you measure it ears into what’s
variously called the sharing economy the
gig economy I see articles all over the
place really calling the Emperor out for
having no clothes when it comes to the
benefits and the promises of this gig
economy and it has application to us as
performers these articles are just
eviscerating the actual results for
people who provide services to sites
that are catering to that gig economy
you know drivers for uber and for lyft
and delivery people for doordash and
GrubHub and Airbnb people and and who
all knows there’s like there’s tons and
tons it’s been a big buzzword for a long
time and like one of the articles was
titled the sharing economy was always a
scam that’s a little harsh but it seems
to be more and more the truth and we
have our own gig economy in the world of
performance and probably the most
obvious example of that is fiber fiber
began as a site where you could get
people to do things for you for five
bucks but then if you wanted it done
faster or if you wanted it done with
options or if you wanted a bigger
version of it there were add-ons and
instead of five bucks it was twenty
bucks or fifty bucks
and I know that there are a lot of
voiceover talent on Fiverr they go there
because there’s no barrier to entry and
they can undercut the entire population
by doing things for five bucks or 20
bucks or 50 bucks that isn’t even close
to the minimum rates for doing things
which begins in the upper 300s when it
comes to Union stuff anyway I just
wonder how long it’s going to take for
everybody to realize just how
destructive this process is I mean that
the promise was anybody can play you can
charge what you want you can offer what
services you want you can do it when you
want and for how long you want and how
often you want and the promise is made
by some of these sites like uber and
lyft was like you know you can make a
great second income or even make it your
own income if you want to do it
so but it becomes a race to the bottom
and the race to the bottom continues
they just reduce the rates that they’re
paying drivers by the mile on uber and I
don’t know if lifts gonna follow lyft is
gonna be the first one to go public but
it’s kind of interesting that this
sharing gig economy which has a lot of
socialist and you know populist
overtones to it people are just sharing
they’re just like you know hey let me
let me give you a lift
let me give you a ride you know surf my
couch you know it but it turns out that
in the end these big economies these
sharing economies each one of these is
controlled by these big massive
companies you know uber has 60 billion
dollars in the bank 60 billion dollars
that’s not socialist that’s not
communist that’s not a sharing economy
that is a pure megalopolis mega you know
mega capitalist thing you know and it’s
really interesting it’s it’s not for the
commoner it’s for the company and I’m an
unabashed capitalist you can
you can’t sway me in any way shape or
form away from capitalism I I think the
people engage in capitalism and commit
fraud should be punished but I still
think capitalism is a damn sight better
than anything else that we have and what
happens is when you get into this you’re
like oh I’ll get a car and I’ll do over
and I’ll do lyft and then I can do my
auditions during the day and I can lift
at night and re whatever and these
companies get so big and they have these
cultures that are just toxic and then
the money isn’t what they promised like
ever unless you really do a lot more
work than they said you’d have to to
make decent money right and then the
novelty wears off and then people start
cutting corners and gaming the system
there’s this thing that uber drivers
sometimes do not so not so honest uber
drivers where they do things that let
them cancel a ride and get a fee for it
or they’ll pretend somebody who was
drunk threw up in their car and they’ll
get a cleaning fee when that never
happened but the drunk person doesn’t
remember whether it happened and they
also stop looking at this as an
independent contractor situation they’re
like you know what we’re actually
employees and we’d like to unionize and
we’d like to have benefits and okay well
you’re going right back to the typical
worker company a relationship and
looking for those protections right so
with fiber
there’s no union there’s no protections
there’s no nothing but what there are
are people who are willing to do this
work for five or ten or 15 bucks
and what that does is it pulls down the
value of what everybody does now if
you’re working on Fiverr and doing
things to make ends meet I don’t I’m not
demonizing you for doing that
but what I am saying is consider the
money that you’re leaving on the table
and what you are doing to your fellow
voice talent in terms of value right in
the video that I did about IKEA and the
way they sell based on price and we sell
based on the value to our customer and
their ability to sell better products
and services make more money it’s a
different way of pricing and so fiber is
kind of like trading on the idea that
somebody is willing to undercut a fellow
a talent now again I said I’m certainly
all for capitalism and I’m all for
competition but I think when it gets
down to the point where somebody’s
willing to do a commercial for 5 bucks
I’m not so sure that first of all you’re
not gonna get what you pay for as a
client but I’m not so sure that’s
healthy for everybody and if you look at
other examples of competition you know
there’s price anchoring going on uber
and lyft are undercutting taxi services
but that is kind of the standard and so
fiber then undercuts non-union rates
union rates
I think it’s time to pay attention to
where we’ve come in this space and I’m
not saying you shouldn’t take uber or
while I am saying you shouldn’t take
over I would I would never take uber I
always take lyft
I mean ubers committed way too many
corporate offenses for me to support
them as a company and I’ve always had a
great experience except for one time in
a lyft car one time a guy picked me up
and he didn’t it didn’t feel like he
could see very well and I was frightened
for my life anyway
and I know I have people watching this
who not only our air talent or our voice
talent or on-camera talent but they’re
also drivers or delivery people or
there’s some other thing that they do in
the gig economy or the sharing economy I
would love to know what you think of all
this are you happy doing that are you
happy with the results where the results
that you got the results that you were
promised how do you feel about the
company for whom you do the work the
lifts and the door dashes and the
Hoover’s and the grub hubs and the
Airbnb ease of the world I would really
love to know leave me a comment and let
me know what you do how often you do it
and kind of your level of satisfaction
is it what they said it was going to be
I have my idea and I’d love to know
yours if you’d like to subscribe to my
channel so that you know when the next
video is coming out go ahead and click
on my head there and if there’s no head
there well then you know there’s a
subscribe button somewhere on the page
if you want to see the latest video I’ve
done go ahead and click on that frame
and it’ll take you to YouTube and
they’ll play it for you which is great
I’m David H Lawrence xvii I so
appreciate you watching and listening
and I will talk to you tomorrow.

5 Responses to The Gig Economy: RIP?

  1. Victoria Prather March 20, 2019 at 6:45 am #

    Loving all the work you’re putting into the videos and the content, especially — I abhor Fiverr! It’s devaluing or work as artists and performers in such a big way.
    I get why people do it, but I don’t think it helps for the bigger picture – not to mention their wallets or self worth.

  2. Robbie March 20, 2019 at 7:07 am #

    Hi David,

    A friend once urged me to join the VO Fiverr train, because it was cheap and and “easy” way into VO. my gut instinct hesitated and am so glad I did. Fast forward later, and education and research within the professional VO community has been wonderful about opening my eyes and truly understanding the impact of Fiverr for VO artists. I don’t have a problem with Fiverr in general (I’ve used it myself for other projects), but I don’t go to Fiverr to find my dentist, doctor, or attorney – and it shouldn’t be the “go-to” place for VO projects either. It seems it will take time to truly educate newcomers the truth and information about how the VO industry works, and encourage them to stay out of the Fiverr VO game.

    Regarding the side gigs, I drive for Postmates, and just started Doordash this week (more of an experiment, really). I feel the key to this work is managing your expectations. Can you make hundreds a day? Sure. But you can also get a lottery ticket and win millions of dollars too. Sure. Impossible? No. But highly improbable? Yes. My expectation going in was to do it part time to generate some income to fund my VO training, classes, coaching, conferences, etc.
    Not so much to depend on solely for my living expenses, but it has done well for me part time.

    I had a very realistic and practical set of expectations, and so far, it’s proven solid. Also, I invest in my services so my customers have an excellent experience. I retired from Human Resources, and I know the spectrum of employee work ethic is all over the map. There are those who barely meet dress code, and those that stay after hours to get a project done. Same thing here. I get out of it what I put in, stay positive, and take what few bad experiences (like a penny tip) in stride. There are good people and a few bad apples in the world, no matter what industry. I find it helps me interact with other people, gets me out of the house when I’ve been working on VO business, and lets me clear my head. (and jam to some tunes)

    I learned long ago to take information on the web (except for your sage wisdom, naturally) with a bit of skepticism. Sadly, it seems the ones who scam the most – whether at their day jobs or doing gigs – garner the most attention, and/or get away with it. It’s our job in our professional lives to be the best example of always doing the right thing for the best end results.
    Thank you for bringing this subject to the table today.

  3. Stuart Gauffi March 20, 2019 at 7:58 am #

    People who engage in the gig economy seldom consider the cost of participation. For drivers, it’s the cost of maintaining and operating a vehicle. Uber and Lyft would have you believe something like “hey, I already have a car, so this will cost me nothing except my time”. Nothing could be further from the truth. For any venture, if you’re not calculating the cost of ALL expenses (like fuel, oil changes, tires, insurance, repairs), AND the opportunity cost of not being able to do other things that make you money (i.e., how much your time is really worth), then you’re not going into it fully informed. This means (generally) that you will lose money in the long run, not make it.

  4. Tom March 20, 2019 at 10:49 am #

    I am about to open a can of worms here. I think that the entire VO industry is a gig industry. Sure, you might have repeat customers and there is more money offered from some customers compared to the customers found on Fiverr or Upwork. When the job is done you have to go find another job. Isn’t that the definition of a gig? A musician goes to a gig whether it pays $50.00 or $50,000.00.

    A position that I had for 12 years was made a union position by the company. I gave notice two weeks later. I can’t work within a union structure. The union in VO is there to try to set minimum pay which only works if the people involved agree to it. When someone agrees to work a gig for less than scale (maybe a lot less) they are accused of getting involved in the gig economy.

    The gig economy is really a bunch of independent contractors all looking for their next job. Some people prefer to work for less per gig and do more gigs while others prefer to spend more time hunting for higher paying gigs and don’t do as many gigs.

  5. Kari May 23, 2019 at 12:17 pm #

    Hi! I do VOs on Fiverr and have really enjoyed the platform. I set my prices up to make about $50/hr. I’m personally cool with that. I like working from home, and I enjoy finding the right effects and music and making it sound the best that I can. I did hire a sound engineer to come trouble shoot some noise floor problems I was having but other than that I’ve figured out the technical aspects on my own and I have enjoyed learning as I go. I had been going a more traditional route before joining online platforms and although I also enjoyed that, I really like not having to audition, invoice, market myself, etc…I really only enjoy doing the actual VOs and am happy to give Fiverr a cut to not have to do that. It’s the same percentage my agents took anyway. The biggest differences between the two as far as my role are that I do the technical work myself instead of going to a studio. So the VOs bought through online platforms are never going to be the same quality as going through an agent, renting a studio with an engineer there, the director and client piped in, etc…Also, unless the take totally sucks, they get one take where as before I might say one line for a national spot 100 different ways for them to choose from. I feel like I get to be more creative in this regard as much of the time they are just trusting me to come up with the style, pace, and vibe myself , or to just “get” the direction. Also the variety of projects is all over the map, however I have never voiced any that I suspected would be anything that competes with what I was doing before. Nothing for any major brands I have ever heard of. The most lucrative stuff on there is pretty boring, things like translating accident reports from Chinese manufacturing plants into files read by someone with a standard American accent. But 10 20,000 word reports at $10/100 words is a great project to plug away at for a month while my toddler naps. Anyway, I know the VO world isn’t fond of Fiverr and I can see both sides of the argument and actually agree with points made by each side. It was simply a way for me to take a skill I already had and adapt it to a new life situation (getting married, moving out of a major market, and having a baby). Just thought I’d answer your question as someone who has worked in both worlds. They are totally different so far in my experience. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Kari

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