‘I’ve given up getting paid’: global tech platform accused of exploiting artists

by Anna Munhin Feb 5, 2023 News
‘I’ve given up getting paid’: global tech platform accused of exploiting artists

The platform allows up-and-coming artists to submit work to the world's biggest brands in order todemocratise creativity.

In some cases, Talenthouse has left artists out of pocket by failing to pay them.

The company, based in London, shares briefs from its clients and invites artists to create work that matches the brand's demands. Their work could be used in marketing materials and seen by millions of people around the world if their submission is chosen.

The service of Talenthouse has helped level the playing field for artists around the world. It says on its corporate page thatpurpose-driven brands do better. It's time to up your integrity. There is more to virtue signalling than mere signalling. It says to take action with Talenthouse.

The company is failing to fulfill its promises. The Observer spoke to 12 creatives, including visual artists, a photographer and a scriptwriter, who said they had not been paid money they were owed by Talenthouse.

Creatives in the UK, US, Poland, India and the Philippines make up the group. The problems are said to be more widespread, with others saying the same things on social media.

Sarah was waiting six months to be paid for a Talenthouse project to create a poster for the movie The Bad Guys. She spent three days creating a unique design that was chosen by DreamWorks. She was supposed to be paid $2,000 in 90 days.

Sarah Sumeray’s poster for The Bad Guys

Sarah Sumeray’s poster for The Bad Guys, for which she is still awaiting payment. Photograph: Sarah Sumeray

She says she hasn't been paid even though the payment window came and went. I no longer want to get the money. She said it was disrespectful to treat artists like this. It was a big deal to be selected for that, and it cost a lot of money. It doesn't make sense.

Helen Clamp, 39, from Fishponds, Bristol, responded to a brief posted in August on behalf of Nationwide, asking for artists to submit illustrations for use in a social media campaign.

She should have earned $500 from Talenthouse within 90 days after her design was chosen. She wasn't paid as well. The money from the building society was given to the people who were selected for the campaign.

She shared her story because she believes there is a bigger problem with Talenthouse's payment practices. She doesn't want them to get away with treating people this way.

An artist from Poland, an illustrator from Florida, and a script writer from Los Angeles are all believed to have been affected by the payment issues. Emails and contracts supported their claims.

Robert Acle, a 47-year-old man from the Philippines, said he only received two payments for two of the four Talenthouse projects he completed. Excuses are the same every time. He said that they are behind due to issues with client payments. We don't have a legal way to demand our right to be paid. Talenthouse has apologized and admitted to having problems paying artists. In an email to a creative, a company representative said they were so sorry that the fee hadn't been paid, and that the company had experienced delays with funding coming in, which has put a delay on outgoings.

Artists are questioning why the company is still advertising new briefs. Several projects were live this weekend.

Talenthouse claims to be enjoying strong growth in its financial statements. Revenue grew by 29% and gross profit by 64% in the third quarter of 2022, compared with the same period in the previous year, as a result of a recent acquisition.

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The company, which is listed on the Six Swiss stock exchange, began new deals which added to its revenue streams. In the last two years, the number of customers generating over $1 million in annual revenue for the company has grown considerably.

Zita Holbourne said it was unacceptable that talenthouse contributors had not been paid. Artists can't live off the ground. She said that the work is very dangerous and needs to be paid on time.

The ethical concerns about the business models of companies like Talenthouse were raised by the payment problems. Work that isn't selected is not paid. Permission is usually granted for the work to be used when it is submitted.

The co- founder of Talenthouse and the chairman of the board apologized for the delay in payments. We are working on a long term solution that will benefit all Talenthouse creatives. We are going to announce this solution soon.

Nationwide paid upfront for the work Talenthouse did for it, and it had commissioned the company to help with content for its social media accounts. The decision was made to pay the 11 artists directly so that they wouldn't be hassled anymore.

The building society might not have been able to find artists if it hadn't worked with talenthouse. It said it would make sure the artists were paid on time. No further work will be done with them, they said.

The allegations were being addressed with Talenthouse. The company said it was looking into the issue.

Artists who responded to briefs for other Talenthouse clients have not had payment problems.

She didn't sympathize with Talenthouse's claims about cashflow issues. She said that an ethical company should set aside a portion of their income for artists who need to be paid. It seems like a legit business from the outside. It claims to democratise creativity.