Voice Over is defined by Wikipedia as a “production technique where a voice—that is not part of the narrative is used in a radio, television production, filmmaking, theatre, or other presentations.” If you are in the market for a Voice Actor for an audiobook, commercial, podcasts, or other narration services, there are a lot of factors to consider when negotiating, or discussing prices.
1. How long the Voice-Over job itself will take?
Every project is different and each step involved will take some amount of time. The length of the script will be factored along with the expected words per minute to give a good, but clear delivery. For context, according to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the average rate of conversational talk in the US is around 150 words per minute (wpm). Please note, the rate at which someone reads tends to be noticeably faster (200-300 wpm), therefore it is best to read out loud to determine actual pace for yourself or the prospective voice talent.
2. How experienced, or recognized, is the brand of the Voice-Talent?
As an actor progresses through their career and builds their portfolio, there is an expected increase in rates for their services. This is due to the profile of their clients, any unique skills developed, and general experience and security of a quality product versus someone new to the industry.
3. What are the variables you may have for your Voice-Over project?
Is this a straightforward narration? Will there be character work? Some voice actors will have their own studio for convenience, and will even have editing and post-production rates to discuss. Some will travel if needed. Travelling expenses such as food, lodging, and airfare are expected to be covered or reimbursed if applicable. Any 3rd party involvement, such as translation services? If the requested voice actor is not fluent in the required language, a third party may need to be brought in to assist. Will this be for a single project, or do you plan on retaining the same person for regular business. The more jobs included will mean a discounted rate
4. How will you be charged for rates?
There are typically two main versions: per hour, and per project. The Voice Actor will typically have a preferred method of payment, but may change depending on the type of project.
5. What is the usage time and distribution channel?
There are going to be differences between an internet ad running 2 weeks and a national commercial running 6 months. In regards to air time, the longer the air time, especially greater than 3 months, there may be an increased rate for service. Distribution channels will have different rates as well, especially when comparing a Super Bowl commercial to a social media ad for an event. The increased use of social media has created an increase in needed content, but licensing fees are not always discusses beforehand. An experienced Voice-Actor will recognize this and will either explain the purpose of licensing fees, or will bring up potential alternative negotiations, such as charges dependent on YouTube subscribers growth.
6. Is there a Union, such as the SAG-AFTRA, involved?
Some actors are part of, and will charge based on Union Rates. The SAG-AFTRA is a Union representing approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, recording artists, and other media professionals. A condensed version of the SAG-AFTRA contract and Market Rates can be seen here, but an example rate for a Non-Air Demo Fee is $236.
7. What is a Recording Pick-Up?
Recording Pick Ups, also known as “pick-ups”, or “PU’s” are recordings that take place once the main voice-over session is done, and thought to be completed. Pick-Ups can and should be written into any agreement with a Voice Actor. There are different reasons this may need to occur. Commonly, the client hears the audio and realizes they need to change part of the script. Sometimes a change will be needed, such as additional text, for local regulations. Pick-Ups can be defined based on time. Will it be under ten minutes or over? Was this an error on the artist’s part, or a script rewrite?
Overall, there are many factors that can affect the final price of services and many that can be negotiated to find the right fit for yourself and your project. For further advice, or discuss options for an audiobook, podcast, or other narration service, please fill out the form below, email directly at [email protected], or call 832.500.4272 for Randy Hames. Randy is a 50 year veteran and 2003 inductee into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. Beyond his demo samples of Voiceover, Audiobook, and Narration below, National Voiceover clients include, but are not limited to:
And many more.