When looking for a voice actor, many factors go into the overall price. Learn more about how to create voice overs within your budget.
How much do voice over actors cost?
There is a wide range of talents and skills among professional voice actors. This causes a significant spread in prices. When hiring voiceover talent, remember that the lower the budget, the less polished the final product will sound.
The industry generally adheres to a standard whereby premium quality may be had at a reasonable middle-of-the-road price. So, unless you’re looking for a well-known voice, which would need signing a union and agent contract (and paying through the nose), you may count on the following pricing structure.
So, how much do voiceover actors cost? An expert voiceover might cost anything from $250 to $3,500, but there are many factors that influence voice actor rates.
Factors affecting cost
Non-union voice performers are not bound to any minimum voiceover rates in the same way that union voice actors are. Without a union, voice actors can negotiate their voice actor salary. Voiceover artists part of SAG-AFTRA typically adhere to union rates to price voice actor work.
The project’s location, the length of time the voice-over will be used, the intricacy of the script, and the sort of customer hiring the voice talent can also affect the cost and budget for the project. Hiring Black female voice actors in New York for a TV commercial voiceover will cost different than hiring Asian male voice actors in Los Angeles for an animated TV series, for example.
There are a few key cost elements affecting the price of professional voice talent:
- Type of work and usage: Where will the voiceover be heard? Social media? TV commercial? Radio? Video games? Audiobooks?
- Length: How long does the voiceover last? And do they charge by time or per word?
- Pickups: After the first read has been recorded and delivered, will you require more recordings?
- Tags: Would you prefer a different narration’s conclusion?
- Bundling: Can you produce many narrations at a reduced cost per narration?
- Residuals: Will the actor be paid for a specific period of time after the work is complete? Will the residuals be in perpetuity?
Hiring a production company to handle the professional voice talent can save you time, give you peace of mind, and help you avoid any unpleasant surprises in the budget. If you spend a little more money upfront, you can rest assured that the task will correctly be done the first time.
Depending on the characteristics and function of the recording, a professional voiceover artist can adjust their voice’s tone and personality to sound just right. These abilities are crucial for voiceovers and foreign-language film dubbing.
Voiceover narration by trained professional performers also has a firm grasp on how to harmonize their intonation with that of the original recording (socially and contextually, telephone messages, speeches or interviews, for example, differ considerably from each other in terms of vocal-auditive skills). The cost of voiceover work can range from low to high, depending on the performer’s talent.
Length of voiceover
Word count can drastically affect the length of a voiceover.
An approximation of the full length, or “completed minutes,” can be calculated with a few simple steps.
An voice actor can get through the script in one minute for every 150 words at an average reading pace.
- With a normal reading speed of 150 words per minute, a 7,000-word screenplay will yield 46.6 total minutes (7,000 / 150 = 46.6) of voiceover, or about 47 completed minutes.
- A reading speed of around 160 words per minute is a good target if your project calls for it.
- When reading at a slower pace than usual, a rate of 140 words per minute is recommended. You can also negotiate an hourly rate if easier.
- It follows that a script for 60 seconds should include about 150 words, and one for 30 seconds should have about 75 words.
Types of voiceovers
There are two primary types of usage: broadcast and non-broadcast. Clients and talent are expected to adhere to different standards for each usage scenario. Naturally, once voice actors go through auditions, it is up to you to decide who you like most.
Broadcasting includes a variety of media, including radio, television, and digital media. These contexts share some traits for use:
- Cover a specific geographic area (whether it be a city, state, or country);
- Have a standard usage duration (for example, 13 weeks, 1 year, or forever); and
- Have set minimum spending requirements (i.e. jobs must be posted at a minimum amount to ensure talent are paid according to industry standards).
The term “broadcast use license” refers to the permission given to a third party to utilize an artistic creation in the service of commercial advertising via radio, television, or the Internet for a fee.
Anything that isn’t a radio, television, or internet commercial is considered non-broadcast. There are no budget requirements or geographical limits for these forms of use. These sorts of usage often have an indefinite license term.
Voice over projects that are not intended for broadcast will be granted only a license for commercial usage.
Invite a talent to a job if you need them to use their skills in a way that isn’t specified in their project listing.
Standard rates and rate sheet
In 2018, the average voice actors charged $17.50 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the average compensation for radio and television announcers was $33,220.
You can discover freelancer voice actors on freelancing sites who will work for as low as $30 for a minor task, and you can find famous movie actors who are worth millions of dollars.
A small radio spot should run you around $35, a 15-second recording for a small website between $130 and $170 [plus usage fees], and a 30-second radio commercial for a larger market between $250 and $350 [plus usage fees]. An established talent in the field can expect to be paid between $2,000 and $5,000 for finished audio.
In addition to the amount of time spent and the number of words written, you should consider how you plan to put the content to use, such as publishing it online, printing hard copies, or displaying it in a physical location. Consider the types of voice you can consider for the project.
When working on a project that will take more than a few hours, you may want to switch to billing in “blocks,” or days or halves of a day. At the rate of $700 per day and $350 per half-day, a project estimated to take two and a half days would cost roughly $1750.
While they can serve as a general guide, this rate guide should not be taken at face value, as they will naturally vary on a national (and sometimes even a state) scale.
Usage fees are compensation paid to performers for the value they add to a project over a set period. They can also be in the form of licensing fees or a buy-out price. It’s common for the package pricing to contain both the session cost and the usage fee.
Because of the wide range of viable projects, it would take a lot of work to go further into the various components that make up usage fees (also known as licensing costs or buy-out rates).
In essence, additional voice acting expenses, fees, and/or taxes include:
- The price of rush orders
- The expense of redoing voiceovers because of background noise
- The cost of standard and additional revisions necessitated because of actor or production error/changed needs while recording
- The cost of the recording studio (if used for more recordings in post-production, other than standard)
The explosion of the internet marketing industry has led to skyrocketing demand for voice-over services and voice over industry overall. Investing in a professional voice actor is crucial to see a return on your money’s worth.
While the price of voice actors might vary widely, it’s not a good idea to hire one based purely on their (cheap) pricing. As a result, you should always make an informed decision based on solid evidence.
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