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Voice Over Rates

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Voice overs aren’t a new thing, by far. It’s not. The very first voice over was recorded on Christmas Eve of 1906 by Reginald Fessenden. Since then, silent...

Voice overs aren’t a new thing, by far. It’s not. The very first voice over was recorded on Christmas Eve of 1906 by Reginald Fessenden. Since then, silent movies were no longer silent and then animated movies were the early pioneers of voice overs. So, projects change and depending on the type of project, voice over rates vary.

Back to Fessenden, listen to the very first voice over.

Before we begin, its important to define just what is a voice over?

A voice over simply put is a form of media or art where a voice actor takes a script and reads it into a microphone and this is recorded and then used either standalone or to accompany some other media, either visual, physical, or audio. The voice over industry offers voice over services for all types of production, but comes with plenty of red tape and complications.

From video games, to radio ads, ad reads for podcasts, YouTube or even full length audiobooks and podcasts, AI voice overs can remove all the hurdles of cost, time, and logistics to creating a professional, high quality voice over.

How are voice overs created?

The process of creating a voice over can vary but the elements required are generally a script with notes on how to read it. Then there’s the recording process. So to create a voice over you would require:

  1. A script writer
  2. A script
  3. A voice actor or multiple voice talents if there are characters in the script
  4. A recording studio and sound engineer and other staff
  5. A producer
  6. A mix down engineer to generate the final output. The final output is calculated in a finished hour (PFH) or a finished minute

As you can tell, this quickly gets expensive. Some voice actors are famous for their oratory skills. We all think of either Morgan Freeman or Sir David Frederick Attenborough.

Attenborough earns about £3,342 a minute for his voice acting well as Freeman earned $1M for the March of the Penguins documentary.

While these two are the leading and possibly extreme cases, there are a host of other use cases for voice over actors without the high budget.

With AI and very realistic voices, someone could recreate the March of the Penguins narration for less than $100. And in only a few days.

How much does a voice over cost?

On the lower end it can cost you $50 for a finished hour to upwards of $400 per finished hour, also known as PFH in the voice over industry. There are generally 9,000 words in a finished hour. However, a finished hour is the final output and does not account for the multiple hours in doing takes and retakes.

Here are a few use cases and the voice acting rate guide.


There are a few ways to record an audiobook. If you could enter a royalty share agreement with the narrator and record the book for no upfront cost. You pay out a percentage of every sale to the narrator for perpetuity or till some number is reached.

Otherwise, the hourly rate can range from $50 to $400 for voice over artists to create a finished hour of audio, also known as PFH for per finished hour. This is if you you decide to use a platform like Fiverr or to find a narrator. These are freelancers looking for voice over work. They record at their home studio and send you back the finished audio. Word count and lengthy revisions can also influence cost.

If you decide to narrate the book yourself, there’s the equipment cost and the learning curve. A standard rate for a recording session at a recording studio can get into the $800+ a day range. Most audiobooks use a backing track to add tension and drama to the story. This can bring additional fees.

With Speechify voice over, you can record as many audiobooks as you wish, with more than 100 various voices and accents (or voice talent) and get the finished product the same day.

You can also clone your audiobook project and create various languages and instantly publish them across the world in over 200 languages.

See an example of a short audiobook created with Speechify Voice Over.

Podcasts, TV commercials, & ad reads

Podcasts production isn’t cheap. Investment in equipment can be expensive so podcasting production companies charge anywhere from $1000 a month or more for their services. Recording ad reads can take up valuable time and can also be expensive as advertisers change.

Ad reads for radio, movie theaters, or other non broadcast channels can be just as expensive as creating short audiobook. Professional voice actors may or may not come with union rates well as non union voice actors might be more flexible and could demand non union rates - which could be much higher or lower. The number of words in the podcast or ad read could influence the cost as well.

See a sample of a podcast intro with an ad read created using an AI Voice Over. All the background music is included, royalty free for personal or commercial use.

Course videos, e-learning, and explainer videos

Course videos are helpful and also lucrative. One video can pay dividends for years to come. The more you create, the more you make over time. And this is a very competitive space. If you were to create more than 5 videos, your cost and time to produce per video will quickly add up.

The key to scaling up video production is automation. To create a video, creators have to create a script. This script can then be just uploaded to the voice over app. Simply change the voices, add music and adjust levels and then hit “export” and you are done.

See a very simple course intro that was created in less than 30 seconds.

YouTube scripts and voice overs for social media

We’ve all heard the generic voice over videos on YouTube. A lot of them use the native Mac voice to read out the script and it sounds robotic. Creating YouTube vides can be very lucrative and the path to a successful YouTube career is quality content and the output.

Creating YouTube videos at scale can quickly drain your energy. Hiring a voice actor for intros , ad reads, segments, or recording them yourself can be expensive and a huge time suck.

See a sample YouTube intro created in less than a minute with an ai voice over generator.

Phone messaging systems

Smaller companies create phone messages for their customers and generally ask the office staff that has the best “radio voice” to record the message. Or, they hire a voice actor or a studio. With an AI voice over, you can bypass the “ask an employee to record” or hiring an agency.

Even large companies can record an AI phone message for dirt cheap without ever compromising on quality. Needless to say, phone messages change when new departments are added, or people leave or added and the recording process has to be done all over again every 3 months or so.

With AI, you can publish a new message every day, if you so wish, for no extra cost.

See a contact center example

Here’s one example for a retail store

And one for a doctor’s office

Voice messaging for government offices

And also for a hotel

To create the above examples the traditional method would easily take a week and up to $1000 or more. With AI voice over, it takes minutes and for a fraction of the cost. Let alone the logistics and project management.

The use cases are many! You can create a voice over today, check it out.

Learn learn more about AI vs voice actors.

So, how does the Speechify Voice Over work?

Easily. There is no learning curve at all. If you’ve been using a computer, there is nothing complicated to learn. You simply create your script, upload it or type it into the voice over app, select the voices you’d like.

You can select a voice, language, or accent for every single paragraph. You get control over every single word in how it is pronounced. Select from an abundant list of royalty free background music tracks, adjust volume and mix. You can easily drag and move things around to where you want them to be.

When you are done, click export to get the audio file in various broadly supported formats. That’s it! These voice overs are free to use for any commercial spot or personal project. It’s much quicker and cheaper and requires little to no post production.

How much does a 1 minute voice over cost?

A one minute voice over, or per finished minute, can cost anywhere between $50 to $200. You can expect around 150 words.

How much does a 2 minute voice over cost?

A two minute voice over usually has around 750 to 2000 words and can cost around $350 to $800.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.