Setting VO Rates

by | Mar 11, 2010 | Business-end-of-things, Compensation, Pricing | 6 comments

So many variables go into the setting of rates for freelance entrepreneurs.  That’s my opinion.  Others differ.

The arguments can get quite philosophical — wrapped up in value judgements of self-worth, market conditions, and even personal relationships.

I’ve heard ’em all.  I especially love the hard ‘n’ fast rules that always seem to come from the highly successful long-time voice actors who typically will say something like:  “….I never even turn on my mic for less than $450…”

Well that’s just all fine and good.  Did you start with that?

Those of us still struggling to keep a daily flow of work…who are developing a full stable of clients…who are ever seeking the threshold of fair pay for hard work… THOSE kind of hard ‘n’ fast rules are elusive.   At least they are for me.

Let me relate a story that just happened to me:

The call came out of nowhere.  A local producer wanted to hire me to be the voice of a conference being held in Vegas…I quoted directly from my rate sheet, and he seemed happy with that, AND my work.  All good all around.

Then he asked if I could refer him to a voice actor of the female gender.  He had another project, and needed a certain type of voice.

I returned to him a couple of names and contact information.

One of the referrals — a seasoned voice actor with a sterling reputation — returned a thank you, and continued to keep me in the loop with communications back and forth.

Then came the e-mail today.   She quoted him a price for the project they were negotiating, and then he returned to her an email ATTACHING MY RATE SHEET. She then very nicely mentioned in an email to me that she hoped she hadn’t scared-off my client because her rate was “…significantly higher than mine.”



— The client faux pas’d by sharing my rate sheet in the first place (I told him so)

— I launch into a gut-wrenching rationalization of my rate sheet

— I also launch into a soul-searching re-evaluation of what I’m worth and what I charge

On the VO-BB some time ago, the notion of “SPINE” became popular.  Rightly so.  The idea being that only those Voice actors with spine will stand up and ask for the price they truly think they’re worth.  Raise the bar.  Take charge.  Have chutzpah.

Great!…but there’s just this one caveat….




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  1. Bob Souer


    Excellent post. I think the idea of “spine” is vital. It’s equally vital to remember that spines are flexible, otherwise you couldn’t bend over to tie your shoes.

    Be well,

  2. Jeffrey Kafer

    You don’t ever EVER send a client your rate sheet. You give them a quote from it, but you never attach it. Not only to avoid situations like this, but because in time your rates may change.

  3. Dave Courvoisier

    Thanks for replying guys….
    Jeffrey, I don’t have any problem sending out my rate sheet. I do it all the time. It certainly doesn’t mean I can’t change it whenever I want to. I view it as an upfront psuedo-contract so the client can’t come back and tell me I wasn’t clear in stating my rates.
    Different strokes, I guess….but I appreciate your perspective.

    Dave C

  4. Philip Banks

    “….I never even turn on my mic for less than $450…”

    Well that’s just all fine and good. Did you start with that?

    I know the above quote was a rhetorical question but I felt it was worth an answer.


  5. Stefan Chinell

    I have my (official) rates posted on my website. That way I seldom get into that kind of problem, and can sleep fairly good at night… 🙂

    I think that nowadays the VO industry is a mass production industry in many ways, wich means it has matured. And I’d rather go with the flow than waste time complaining about things you can’t stop anyway.

  6. Paul Strikwerda

    Great post, Dave. Thank you so much for openly sharing some of your pricing strategies.

    As English speaking voice-overs, we’re operating in a global market. That means that we have even more variables to deal with. The going US rate for project X might be considered low for a similar project in e.g. Germany. I wonder how many US-based talents are taking that into account.

    Jeffrey, do you know that your rate sheet is all over the web? Here’s one source:

    If voice talents feel that they should publish their rates, at least quote a scale. That way, there’s always wiggle room.


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