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  • Writer's pictureAiden Dawn

Avoiding The Race to the Bottom: Voiceover Rates

Voice Actors:

It’s time we touch on that ever present issue again... 💸Rates💸

Setting Rates: Let's talk about your worth and why...

Let me be clear - I'm not the be all, end all, nor should any one person on the internet be your reference for voiceover rates. Full stop.

However I do want to help fellow talent to educate themselves by offering resources.

Over the past few years, we've seen a great rise in talent, and a severe drop in rates. This is something that's often perpetuated by companies who know better taking advantage of newer talent, who don't.

So if there's one takeaway you get from this blog post, let it be how important it is that you take the time to seek out resources and educate yourselves if you are at all unsure of how to properly quote.

There are podcasts, there are blogs, coaches, sites that have specific guides made just for the purposes of helping you be informed on industry standard quoting practices!

Here are some links to trusted rate guides:

The GVAA Rate Guide - A very common guide that I, and many other VAs have used (and still use) to set our rates. It’s got *almost* every category one might be looking for and has a lot of specifics on usage.

The GFTB rate guide - The GFTB rates are a little less specific in my opinion, but they have general price categories in different currencies/for different counties which is super helpful for those of us who aren’t US based.

The VAC Indie Rate Guide - This guide can be a great resource for - you guessed it - indie projects! We all know that that most indie developers will absolutely not have the budget to support union rates. Which is why this rate guide exists.

*A note on indie rates:

While understanding that this is our job, it’s important for those of us wanting to work in gaming, animation, audio drama, etc. to make connections, help projects we believe in grow, and be part of things that fuel our creativity and passion as well.

And tacking onto that we have to consider exposure - indie games have less budget because they are smaller companies, with smaller staff, making content with less reach. Naturally, you’re not going to have the same eyes (or ears) on these projects.

And all these rate guides? NON-UNION. If you’re looking for union rates, you can refer to your country’s actor’s union website. They all have a public document with this information. In Canada that’s ACTRA, the US is SAG-AFTRA, for the UK it’s Equity (requires login to view their rates - maybe ask a union friend), etc.

Here are some general things to know that help talent when quoting:

💡 Reach - Are they Nike, or are they your buddy’s new sweatshirt brand? i.e. - how many eyes are going to be on this?

💡 Is this for a Paid Advertisement? Meaning Is the company paying to run/broadcast it, or is it being posted Organically? (non-paid/non-promotional advertisement.)

💡 If organic, again - how big is the company, and will it be on their website, or on their social media. Is it a story (24hr window, short exposure), or a permanent post? This can also help clarify the differentiation between longer form Commercial and Explainer content.

💡 Run Time? 3 months, 6, 9, 1yr, 3yrs, “in perpetuity”? Basically, how long does this company have the rights to use your voice in this context?

P.S. - learning what in perpetuity means and how it is entirely different between organic and paid advertisements is really helpful.

Taking on paid ad work in perpetuity might prevent you from taking on other work in the future. Let's say a home goods brand wants exclusivity for a year. If you worked with Homesense, in perpetuity (giving them the right to run your commercial any time they see fit), you could not take on that new client. Personally, I do not take on paid commercial advertisements in perpetuity.

Whereas Organic content is almost always in perpetuity, and is generally not exclusive. So if a client is asking for "Non-Broadcast" or "Organic" content in perp, there isn't really much reason to worry about this.

💡 Where? Local, Regional, National, International?

💡 Terms of Use. Are they trying to buyout all rights to the use of your voice permanently in all capacities? Meaning *could they take and use for AI*?

💡 Genre. We know that with VG, Animation, Mixed Media, etc. you’re generally giving away your voice *in that context* in perpetuity. The understanding is that the art is permanent.

Commercial, as we know, varies.

Corporate explainers/pitches tend to be internal, so the only eyes/ears on them are within the company.

e-Learning is for very specific, private learning modules and thus a small audience. And so on…

Here are some questions to ask yourself for some perspective if you’re worried you’re quoting too high:

💭 How much time, research, training, equipment, etc. have I invested to do this career?

💭 If I book 'x' amount of times/month for a project like this, how much do I need to make to meet my needs?

💭 Am I providing multiple services at once, saving my client time and money? (Recording, editing, time syncing slides/music, script editing/copywriting, etc.)

💭 This is a silly one, but I sometimes ask myself: "if I were a big influencer/celebrity, how many boatloads would a company pay me without blinking an eye?" Okay - now you can calm down about asking $300 for a 90 second explainer.

At the end of the day, it's up to you how much you quote. If you feel as someone who is less experienced you want to quote less, that is your decision. If you do something lower budget because it means something to you or is not about the money, that’s totally fine!

Just keep in mind that if we start to accept bottom of the barrel rates, (especially for big corporations) they become the standard. Then no one - let alone you - will be able to afford to pursue this career.

In the wise words of Bo Burnham, 🎶 Shit like this brings the movement down 🎶

Please take some time to educate yourself and find rates that feel right and fair for you.

Good luck out there my lovely voice over friends. ❤️

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