Saturday, July 21, 2012

What Residuals Are Not

People are funny. Over and over I get asked the same question about the current TV and print campaign I'm in: "So do you get paid every time that runs?"

The other day I answered, "Yes, every time someone opens a magazine with my face in it, I get a dollar!"

First off, this was not a union job. But even under a union contract, it's not like there's a little meter running somewhere and every time a commercial runs it goes "ding" and another 30 cents goes into my bank account.

What happens is the advertisers figure out ahead of time when and where they want to run the spot and every quarter they send you a check for what that's worth. There's a complex set of formulas governing the different types of usage -- network, cable, local, primetime, etc., etc.

And they do essentially the same thing with a non-union contract. Only they pay a flat fee called a "buyout." They get to run it for 13 weeks or a year or two years or however long the contract extends.

Now this can be harmful to the actor's interests if the fee that's been negotiated is really, really low and the commercial runs ALL the time. (Think mattress and carpet ads.) But a good agent will do the math, figure out what the value is of a particular ad's run (where and when and for how long) and will negotiate the buyout accordingly.

So yes, in one sense I get paid every time the ad runs. Because the fee was based on the projected usage. And I got a pretty nice fee for both the TV and print elements of the campaign.

So do not worry. And, on the other hand, do not envy. All is fine.

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