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Friday, November 4, 2011

Buyout Rates in Modeling

(This post is intended for both freelance models and those with agency representation.)

When it comes to modeling and pay rates, it isn't always easy to say exactly how much a person can expect to make. Each project has a budget and depending on how large or small that budget is, will determine how much a model could possibly make. However, if you're fairly new to the industry, you'll want to be familiar with certain terms, such as a "Buyout Rate."

Most of us know about the fact that actors who book national TV commercials are paid a small percentage each time their commercial airs on television. Known as "residuals," this is one way actors are paid over and over for doing one commercial. Even if it was 5-10 years ago, anytime a television station plays that particular commercial, the actor will get mailed a check with their residual amount. You must be asking yourself why I'm talking about actors when this is a blog for models...this example helps to illustrate and set up the explanation for what a buyout rate is when it comes to modeling gigs.

Just as actors get residuals for commercials they've done, models sometimes also get residual payments each time their image appears in a publication. While this is more common in the acting world, it does happen in modeling from to time. For clients who don't have the budget--or simply don't want to pay models over and over, they will offer what is known as a "buyout rate." This information is stated during the casting process so models know upfront what the payment arrangement is.

If a model is hired for a project that offers a buyout rate, it means that they are paying you extra money in addition to your regular pay rate, which gives the client the freedom to use your image as many times as they want now and in the future, without the need to give you a residual check. This applies to print work only in modeling, not fashion/runway shows.

An example of a casting that offers a buyout rate would look something like this:

Casting for: Male & Female Models (ages 21-30)
Gig: Print ad for technology company campaign
Rate: $500/per day
Buyout Rate: $750 for unlimited usage or 1-2 years of unlimited usage

The cool thing is that the buyout rate is on top of what you'll already be making for working the print ad gig but like I stated earlier, you wouldn't get residuals if that same company wanted to reuse your image in something else years later. Is this a bad thing? Yes and no.

While it may seem unfair to not get paid each time your image gets used, remember that to book such a well paying gig in the first place is a great accomplishment (think about how many models didn't get the job and got zero pay).

Being offered a buyout rate is a good thing because it shows that the client/company at least respects your profession enough to pay you extra. I'd be more disappointed if there was such a casting that planned on reusing images but didn't offer a buyout rate of some kind (castings that do this aren't necessarily bad or shouldn't be applied to, it just means you don't get that extra payout).

To put this subject into further perspective, residuals in modeling aren't that common as in acting simply because there is no real need to frequently use the same picture over and over for something. It's totally easy to replay a commercial for razors from 2 or 3 years ago because it's a convenient way to remind people about that company's product but it wouldn't make sense to do the same thing in terms of modeling and photos. Who wants to see the same perfume ad over and over in magazines that was originally shot 5 years ago? I'm sure you get my point. So before you cry, "That's not fair!" think about it in business terms...the modeling industry is first and foremost a business, after all.

The actual amount a client may offer a model for a buyout rate varies just as much as traditional modeling pay rates. The more well known the client is and if they plan on reusing the image for an unlimited amount of time, the higher the buyout rate will be. In my years of applying to castings, I've seen buyout rates range from $300 all the way up to $5,000.

For those of you that are concerned about exactly why and how the images will be reused...relax! The clients that cast for these types of projects are legitimate and the images will only be reused for purposes that deal directly with their company, promote their services, products, etc. They won't be sold to a third party, manipulated, placed on a porn site, etc, etc, etc. The nature of such projects are almost always commercial in nature, meaning completely rated G so it isn't like you're accepting a buyout rate at the expense of finding your image somewhere you don't want it to be.

2 comments:

Bru Marx said...

Hi,

I booked a job in 2010 and the buyout stated this:

Usage: Buyout- 18 months exclusivity

So they paid me at the time. What I want to know is, after this 18 month usage, are they supposed to pay me more? I keep seeing my images to this date everywhere (was for a product sold in supermarkets). Please help me, let me know if I have money pending! hehehe thank you

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Bru Marx! You'll find the answer to your questions in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #716," which can be found on my other blog: "Modeling 101 - Answering Readers Questions."

Please visit this link: http://amodelsdiary-readerquestions.blogspot.com/ and you can view your post there. Thanks for reading!