Since there are so many opportunities to book work on your own in voice over, I’m often asked by actors if they should pay a commission to their agent for work they got themselves.
The short answer: check your contract. If you signed a contract that says you pay your agent for every voice over job you get, then you are legally bound to pay your agent for all jobs worked during the time period you are under contract. If you decide to get squirrely on your agent and not pay, your agent has the right to audit your finances, which is a lengthy, intrusive, cash-consuming endeavor.
If you are not under contract when you get the job, “should I commission my agent on a job I got myself?” becomes a question that can only be answered based on your own values and economics.
If you like your agent and believe he or she is working hard for you, why would you not want to throw a cookie in the cookie jar? Paying commission on a job your agent didn’t get you is showing that you are working as a team with your agent. This is especially true if you’ve just started working together or if you’re with a very reputable agency but haven’t booked yet or in awhile. When agencies are considering talent to drop, they’re much less likely to drop people who have made them money. If your agent thinks of you as a team player, he/she is much more likely to pitch you for roles than someone who isn’t on the radar. Wouldn’t you pay a commission to be on a great agent’s radar?
Hopefully you’ll soon be at the point when you are booking multiple jobs a day, so you’ll need your agent to field all the offers and handle the business side of things, whether the agent or your great relationships got you the job in the first place. Ten percent to handle the business side of things is quite a bargain to a busy working voice over talent.