Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a session fee?

A session fee for commercial talent is the initial payment to the talent for the work performed for a specific purpose and period of time. It is paid by the day or by the hour, depending on the contract.

2. What is a signatory for commercial talent?

A signatory is any entity that employs union talent and has signed union letters of agreement to abide by regulations stipulated in specific union contracts for commercials, music videos, industrials, etc. If your commercial company is not signatory to SAG-AFTRA or AFM, you may need to engage the services of a company that is signatory. When you do commercial talent payroll with Media Services, we can help you “borrow” signatory status.

3. How much is a session fee for commercial talent?

This depends on the contract and classification. We have a Commercial Guide which lists session fee rates for commercials and music videos. Please call Steve Bizenov at 646 829 0702 for a free PDF copy of the Commercial Guide.

4. What is a holding fee?

A holding fee for commercial talent is a payment based on session dates and made every consecutive 13-week cycle, ensuring that performers can’t take a job for a conflicting product. You don’t want the actor in your Mercedes commercial pitching BMW in another spot running at the same time.

5. What is the duration of a cycle?

A cycle for commercial talent runs 21 months.

6. What’s the difference between union and non-union commercial talent?

When you employ union talent for commercials, you must abide by union rules, pay and guidelines. With non-union commercial talent, you have no contract or contractual based fees; everything is negotiated.

7. Do we have to use union talent in our commercial if we are a SAG-AFTRA signatory?

Yes. Being signatory to SAG-AFTRA commercial agreements means that you are legally bound to employ guild performers as stipulated in the agreements.

8. Are there any circumstances under which we do not need to use a SAG-AFTRA signatory for a commercial shoot?

When you shoot outside of SAG-AFTRA jurisdiction, it is not necessary to use a signatory. Consult your commercial payroll company if you are unsure about SAG-AFTRA jurisdiction.

9. How long is a day for SAG-AFTRA talent?

A day is 8 hours for on-camera commercial talent; 2 hours for voiceover artists.