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Ethics comes up a lot as you navigate the voiceover industry.

This occurred to me recently because I was narrating a project about ethics and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). As I was narrating the script, I realized how deeply ethics is involved in the voiceover industry. You need to make a lot of ethical decisions as situations come at you.

Before we continue, let's establish the definition of ethics. There are many definitions and we could go down the rabbit hole of defining & differentiating ethics, morals, virtues, and values but I've got laundry to do today. For simplicity's sake, let's use Merriam-Webster's definition 2C:

Ethics: a guiding philosophy.

What are your ethics aka your guiding philosophy when you have an opportunity to go behind the back of your agent to book a gig so you don't have to pay them their commission?

What are your ethics when you're bidding for a gig on a Pay-to-Play site?

What are your ethics when you're a member of SAG-AFTRA and you're offered a gig that would violate Global Rule One?

What are your ethics when you see a casting notice for an African-American voice actor and you're not?


How can you be an ethical voice actor?

Establish a guiding philosophy that benefits not just you but the voiceover industry as a whole. It's easy to be unethical but it hurts everyone, including yourself. Being ethical can be hard sometimes but it helps everyone in the long run. BTW if being ethical was easy & profitable, everyone would do it.

If your booked a gig via an agent, work through that agent when the client wants to keep working with you without the agent involved.

If you audition for projects via Pay-to-Play sites, use SAG-AFTRA rates and the Global Voice Acting Academy Rate Guide so you can bid ethically.

If you're a SAG-AFTRA member, honor the contracts that have been collectively bargained.

Don't pretend to be of a different race or sexual orientation that isn't your own when auditioning.


  • Wednesday, July 14th @12PM ET: the VoiceOver Network Interview "Tom Dheere Explains Explainers". During this webinar we’ll talk about the growing world of explainers. This will be an interactive webinar so bring your questions and join us LIVE! Sign up here!

  • Thursday, July 15th @8PM ET: the Edge Studio Business and Money 201 webinar, "Rates, Billing, and Negotiating". In this 60-minute webinar, we will discuss how to build a Rate Sheet, invoice clients, and get the rates your deserve. Sign up here!

  • Wednesday, July 21st @8PM ET: The VO How-To Webinar "Direct Marketing". What is Direct Marketing? How can you use Direct Marketing to complement your Agents and use of Pay-to-Play sites? These and many more questions will be answered. Sign up here!

  • Thursday, July 22nd @8PM ET: the Edge Studio Marketing 201 webinar, "4 Words that Kill your Marketing". In this 60-minute webinar, we will discuss how to think like an effective voiceover marketer and avoid self-destructive marketing strategies. Sign up here!



Tom Dheere is the VO Strategist, a voice over business & marketing coach and demo producer since 2011. He is also a voice actor with over 20 years of experience who has narrated just about every type of voiceover you can think of. When not voicing or talking about voicing, he produces the sci-fi comic book Agent 1.22.


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