How much IS a Voiceover?
Ah, the question on many a person’s lips- just how much does it cost to get a voiceover recorded?
Well- if you are looking for a magical wave of a wand and a one-word answer, you’ve come to the wrong place. However, if you want some honest advice, listen up.
Voiceovers, like people, come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes- so, much like fashion, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
Most projects involve a Basic Studio Fee (BSF) plus a usage fee. There are exceptions to this rule, and I shall recommend some fantastic resources later in this blog post that you can access online, so you can get an idea of what you can expect from a pro VO artist.
Any good, professional, full time voiceover will reliably inform you of their BSF (Basic Studio Fee). This is their hourly charge to record from their studio- typically this is between £200-300 per hour. If you need them to attend a studio in London or elsewhere, the BSF is normally higher.
A usage fee will apply on top of this BSF, which depends on a number of key factors:
WHAT it’s for, WHERE it’s being transmitted, HOW long it’s being transmitted for and WHO you are asking to record it.
So, before you approach a voiceover for a quote, it’s always advisable to have as much information to hand about what you need so that the VO in question doesn’t need to give you the third degree.
Let’s tackle ‘WHAT’ it’s for first, shall we?
There are many different types of VO: TV Commercials, Radio Commercials, Phone Prompts (also referred to as IVRs), Web Videos, eLearning, Computer Games, Voice of God, Internal Videos, Cinema Advertising, Company Videos, Announcements- the list goes on.
You’ll hopefully know what you need before you pick up the phone or send an e-mail- so that’s a good starting point.
Be clear what you need the voiceover for.
WHERE is it going?
Let the VO know where you intend for the audio to be used, across all the available media options.
If it’s going to be used on a variety of media (for example, that TV Commercial is also going on the company website, in Cinemas, You Tube and Facebook), you need to make this clear to the voice talent, as this will increase the usage fee.
Be clear where geographically this project is being broadcast- it might be internally, locally, nationally, Europe wide or even Globally.
The more places the voiceover is being used, the more the usage fee will increase. Likewise, in terms of television, the more TVRs (TV repeats) or impressions you buy from the broadcaster, the more you’ll have to pay the voice talent.
HOW long do you intend to use it?
It could be 3 months, a year, 3 years or ‘in perpetuity’.
Let the voiceover know how long you want to use it for- maybe you initially pay for a year and then come back again and pay the talent for another year’s usage? Whatever it is, always be frank and honest about the time you wish to use the audio for.
WHO are you asking to record it?
Well- there are many phrases that spring to mind when it comes to this point.
Things about ‘paying peanuts and getting monkeys’, and if you ‘pay cheap you pay twice’ etc…..
The truth of the matter is- if you are looking to get a polished, professional voiceover for your project to make it stand out from the crowd and define your business, get a PROFESSIONAL VOICEOVER ARTIST to do it for you.
If you care enough about your business, product or organisation to invest in some fabulous marketing material that requires a voiceover, then get a professional, full time voiceover to do it for you.
Sure- Anne from Accounts could go into a quiet room with an iPhone and record it for you, and it might cost you a box of Thorntons or, indeed, nothing. But will her voice be the one that conveys your product, your company and your vision? Will your competitors and potential clients take you seriously, or cringe, smirk and walk on?
Or perhaps you could approach someone off Fiverr who is willing it to record it for next to nothing, because they are ‘building their portfolio’?
Bargain deal, you may say- I’m saving HUNDREDS, maybe THOUSANDS. But as they can only record in the evenings because they have a full time job as an Estate Agent, they are impossible to get hold of during working hours. Then when you finally receive the audio, they sound far from professional, the studio sounds terrible, they have pronounced loads of things incorrectly, there’s a tonne of background noise (yes, you did hear a hoover in the background), the recording stops and starts and the files they have sent over are unusable, and frankly, a bit embarrassing. Nasty.
The truth of the matter is, if I want something done, I get a professional to do it. And although I want a competitive price, I’m willing to pay the going rate to get a good, solid service that I can trust.
When you hire someone who isn’t a professional voiceover, the only person you are short changing is yourself.
A professional, full time voiceover invests some serious cash into their business, just like you do. Professional home studios can cost thousands to build, then there are microphones, Macs, PCs, headphones, pop shields, studio desks, interfaces, software, training, show reels, business cards, marketing…. I could go on.
When you hire a pro VO, you are not just buying a voiceover- you’re buying a professional service. You are working with someone who does this day in, day out. They can give you advice and guidance, and walk you through the whole process if you have never done it before. You’ll be able to contact them throughout the working day. They will know the correct fees and ways that voiceovers are used. They will have had training, and be able to share the techniques and ways to change their voice to best suit your project. They will ensure you get exactly what you want, when you need it. They will ensure that your voiceover project exceeds your expectations and is the cherry on the top of your marketing that will drive your sales.
So, actually, there IS a one-word answer to the question:
How much is a (professional) Voiceover?
Here are some excellent resources you can access online to find out more about professional rates for voiceover.
The clever people at Gravy For The Brain, who provide a huge amount of respected voiceover resources and training, spent a lot of time and research working with industry professionals to compile a great ‘go to’ guide for voiceover rates. This is a definite must-read.
If you are booking airtime for a TV commercial, and know the TVRs involved, this site provides a great calculator to work out what the usage fee will be: