Last week we conducted a public survey which was a crucial first step towards revising our long standing policy towards castings on The Hustle. In this post I want to outline the results of that survey to you, investigate the findings and outline how we intend to proceed.
We’ve always been committed to offering a free, not-for-profit casting platform in the UK for performers and casting directors, and your input is vital in shaping our direction.
Why Are We Considering This Change
For over 10 years we have freely gathered and promoted paid opportunities to you on The Hustle. In 2019 we developed the first version of our web platform to help us do an even better job of serving you but over the years we simply haven’t had a large enough volume of castings to make any real impact.
This is because of two main reasons:
- Our strict guidelines make it fairly inconvenient for employers to post jobs. They want quick and easy and have limited patience for jumping through hoops. This means we have a low rate of employers posting their own jobs.
- Our strict policy on pay transparency means we reject 95% of the jobs that we ourselves find online. This means we have a low rate of posting jobs on behalf of employers.
The net result is; very few castings promoted on The Hustle
Our Bold Mission
In early 2023 we reevaluated our whole purpose as an organisation and identified 3 big areas of impact that we felt we were best placed to address in the industry. (In future I hope to share more about that in other content.) One of those was in the area of Castings, where we identified our 10 year target to be:
This is a pretty audacious goal for us. If we are going to hit our target of an average of 500 castings a year then we need to do something pretty drastic to increase the number of castings we promote whilst also being very careful not to simply allow the quality to suffer in favour of quantity.
What Is The Proposed Change In Policy
To address this, the fundamental change that we are exploring, is to allow us to publish and promote castings where the pay falls below industry guideline minimums, or we cannot verify the pay at all. Where previously, either situation would have resulted in us simply rejecting the jobs outright, now we want to include them. This would result in a significant influx of new opportunities for performers, many of which would probably be low/no pay but also many of which would be paid, but simply unverifiable.
There are significant benefits to this change, but also some legitimate concerns that come up as a result. Let’s discuss some of the benefits we hope to achieve and how we plan to address the concerns.
Why Would This Policy Change Be A Good Thing
There are several reasons that I feel this policy change would be a good thing for you as an individual and for the industry as a whole.
- Improve The Quality Of Casting Breakdowns – By allowing more low/no pay opportunities to use The Hustle we would have the opportunity to encourage them to provide more consistent and higher quality casting breakdowns and job information. Just because the pay isn’t great doesn’t mean they can’t provide detailed descriptions and details.
- Reduce The Prevalence Of Casual Social Media Casting – If we gave employers a truly viable alternative then they wouldn’t need to resort to low quality social media call outs and the many low quality social media accounts promoting (and charging!!) for this content would hopefully become obsolete. Social media could then be used as a magnifier, not a crutch.
- Increase Our Platform For Education – If nobody is using The Hustle we can’t have an impact in other areas. Increasing the volume of employers and performers using the castings platform would make it worthwhile for us to develop educational resources to encourage and promote fair pay and educate performers on how to decide if an opportunity is right for them.
- Make Pay-To-Play Platforms Obsolete – Our ultimate aim would be to reduce the reliance on paid casting platforms so much that we disrupt their business model and make it nonviable, meaning that it’s no longer a worthwhile business endeavour to charge performers for castings, forcing them to either pivot to providing genuinely valuable services or… to show their true colours and close up shop.
Why Did We Conduct This Survey
I know that low/no pay castings is a very controversial issue. I know how polarising it is to discuss this issue and how different groups of people have very different views on the subject. I even have my own very strong views on the subject!
For that reason it was important to me to survey you, give you an opportunity to have your voice heard, and as a result – to give me an opportunity to address as many issues and challenges as possible when making my decision.
The results of the survey were very much as I expected – but the insight I have gained about the challenges and issues you perceive as a result have been invaluable to me in making a decision to proceed. I have come up with a series of direct actions, platform features, internal processes and resource ideas as a result, that I am confident are completely unique in our industry.
The Results Of The Survey
Over the last two weeks there were 258 responses to the survey, that asked the question:
Should The Hustle curate and promote jobs and castings where we can’t verify the pay meets minimum guideline amounts? (and may be low/no pay?)
From the above results we can draw a few basic conclusions.
- The majority of respondents are against low/no pay castings being promoted. This was to be expected.
- A significant minority of respondents were in favour of the change. Not just a small group.
- The people who were against the policy change showed much stronger opinions – 38% were strongly against the change, compared to only 11% strongly in favour of the change.
- There may be significant ambivalence – where many people are happy to keep things how they are and don’t really care that strongly. This is echoed in the written comments that we received by some of the voters in favour of the change.
As a result of this survey we have decided to change our policy, to allow low/no pay and unverifiable pay opportunities to be published and promoted on The Hustle.
For many of you this will be a welcome change and you will probably be excited to see a flurry of new opportunities posted on The Hustle starting in the next few weeks.
But for the moderate majority of you who were against this change, as well as for many of you who were cautiously in favour of the change I want to outline my analysis of the feedback we received and the actions we are going to take as a result to address your concerns.
I let my AI bots run wild on your comments and concerns, cross referencing each of your groupings and your responses to the primary question to categorise and prioritise all of your feedback and help me develop procedures, features and policies to help address those concerns which were:
- Pay & Compensation – Not surprisingly, 38% of people who commented were concerned about pay and compensation. Comments focused on the importance of fair pay and that low/no pay opportunities undermines proper compensation.
- Transparency & Clarity – There’s a demand for clear communication about the nature of job opportunities, especially regarding payment. It should be very obvious if a job is paid fairly, low pay or unpaid.
- Professional Standards – Some respondents were concerned that allowing low/no pay jobs would contribute to decreasing the standards of the work on the platform and that The Hustle would lose its standing as a “professional” platform.
- Predatory Practices – Some respondents were concerned that allowing low/no pay and unverifiable pay would encourage predatory practices including exploitation of performers who don’t know any better.
How We Are Proposing To Address These Concerns
The concerns outlined above are real and valid. If we want to adopt this policy change and still stand as a positive force for good in this industry then we need to address these concerns seriously and intelligently.
Luckily for us and for you – we don’t have an American conglomerate breathing down our neck so we don’t have to filter our every move through a PR cheese grater and we are free to take actions that have real impact and actually address your concerns head on.
Thanks to a number of great suggestions from you about what you would like to see, The Hustle will address these concerns in 3 ways; through platform features, internal procedures and the development of resources for the community.
Alongside the features that allow the core functionality of the platform, we will work towards implementing the following features to address specific concerns as soon as practical:
- Fair Pay Priority – Castings that do meet or exceed industry guidelines will be given priority on the platform, highlighted wherever practical.
- Reporting & Reviews – A reporting and review system for the community to flag possible exploitation to encourage community driven quality control. This might include rating the quality of a casting breakdown to encourage high quality submissions.
- Employer Verification & Reviews – A process to verify employers that belong to credible groups or organisations and visibly identify their status. This may include employer ratings and reviews too.
- Detailed Job Filters – Allowing applicants to filter out low/no paid work if they want, giving you ultimate autonomy over your own decisions and your own career.
- Fields For Other Considerations – In the case of low/no pay work we will work to add fields that clearly identify other considerations like whether travel costs and expenses are paid, or whether productions have insurance. This will help you make an informed decision but also highlight these considerations to employers who might not have considered them when budgeting their production.
In addition to the platform features, we will enact the following processes and procedures as soon as practical.
- Inclusivity Monitoring – Add fields for important characteristics then monitor the diversity and inclusivity of those characteristics over time. Review the data every 6 months to identify any trending issues.
- Castings Code Of Practice – Develop, publish and have employers and applicants agree to our own version of a castings code of practice. This will identify our expectations for the use of our platform to both hirers and performers specific to the use of the casting platform and the handling of submissions for jobs.
- Regular Survey – Conduct a new survey in 6 months to assess the community feedback on the changes.
Alongside the platform features and internal procedures, we will develop and publish the following resources to educate employers and performers and highlight important issues and raise awareness for professional standards.
- Fair Pay Awareness – Develop a series of resources to educate applicants and employers on what is fair pay for each job type. Many employers simply don’t know what expected rates of pay are and what other elements should be considered apart from the rate itself. Many performers can’t recognise the difference between an equitable profit share and exploitation.
- Education on Decision Making – Create resources to help performers decide whether an opportunity is a good fit for them or not. Including financial impacts, reputational, exposure, time and energy and the many other considerations that should be taken into account when deciding whether to apply for a job or not.
- Red Flag Resources – Develop a series of resources that educate applicants about red flags for them to make them aware of predatory practices. This will help applicants to avoid falling prey to exploitation but also help us encourage an atmosphere of community sourced quality control, which is the only way that The Hustle will be able to realistically achieve our goal.
I welcome your feedback
I’d love to hear from any of you hustlers in the comments below what you think of all of this or if you didn’t get a chance to have your say in the survey what you think of the policy change and my proposed action steps.
As always, Happy Hustling!