Rates Rebound

by | Sep 19, 2012 | Compensation, Freelance, Pricing | 3 comments

Mention VO rates, and you’re bound to get a vibrant response.  Such was the case with yesterday’s blog “Low-Balling Liability?

Certain topical touchpoints in voice acting seem to hit a nerve, no matter how often they’re mentioned in blogs, forums, or groups.  Rates is one of them.  It’s so popular that BOTH of my LinkedIn groups on this subject see new subscribers every day.  (Setting VoiceOver Rates, and Voice-Over Rates – Private)

I’m not trying to beat a dead horse, but in an ever-changing marketplace, talking about compensation levels never really goes out of fashion or necessity.  SAG-AFTRA is a merged union.  Internet-based auditioning and delivery is more the norm than the exception.  New hopefuls are joining the ranks every day.  Rates SHOULD be discussed often and extensively.

Nearly all the responses were incredulously disgusted with the rates being put forth by ExpressVoices.com.  Things like:

  • “…these are bottom-feeders who make it impossible for VO professionals to make a living. It’s disgusting…”
  • “…this cannot possibly be the future of voice over. The writer sounds like an alien….”
  • “…what? Another shark in the murky waters of  the discount VO swamp?…”

And those were the people who wrote me private email.  Others chose to respond in the comments section of the blog.

One particular response stood out, though.  Here it is:  “…What is the minimum someone new to the field should accept?…”

The answer to that is almost beyond the time and space I have here to construct a response.  I suppose it’s best summed up in the words:  “aim high”.  Yes, I suppose a newbie is a little more unsure, less confident, and more willing to accept an entry-level scale.  Meh.  We’ve all been there.  Just….don’t settle for that in the long run.  With your improvements in talent, technology and training, constantly upgrade your pricing structure to match your achievements.

As I mentioned, talent unions’ best contribution to our business is that they ARE willing to set minimum pay standards.  As far as I’m concerned, these should be minimum starting points in negotiating both union and non-union jobs.

Here are three great resources available to us all that help set the standard (not exhaustive by any means, but handy).

Producer’s HandyDandy Voiceovers

VoiceOver Resource Guide

SAGAFTRA contracts




CourVO Newsletter


  1. Sean O. Shea

    I have been looking at that Express Voices site and with names like Tyler Moomoo, Shannon Ballbreaker and Joe Blow, it’s difficult to take them seriously. Also followed the link to the Voice Corp and noticed that nobody was using a last name. Perhaps, because they know how the rest of their peers would feel??

    I’m sure how their agents might feel about that, too.


  2. Roy Bunales

    Stick to your guns folks. I’ve always used union scale as my baseline and I’m a non-union talent. Worked for me most of the time. If a client wants a lowball figure, I don’t drop my fee. I add value to my voiceover by adding other services like copywriting, or post production sfx/music beds and audio engineering. If you see your biz as top shelf quality, you need to have top shelf pricing. If you lowball yourself now, you’ll have one helluva hole to climb out of later.

  3. Aubianne M Poulter

    Hi there, Dave.

    Greatly appreciate your blog and the time taken on this tricky subject.

    Unfortunately, I’m really in a bind here, trying to offer advice to one of my actors who’s picked up a gig doing news reading for a third-party distribution service catering to the blind market. It’s an intensive deal, too: every morning, every week; the news has to be from that morning – hence the commitment.

    I can’t seem to find anything on assisting him with rates, though. This is his first gig of its kind, though he’s been a member of SAG for 15 years (background and stand-in work on major network shows and films.)

    His voice is, in a word, exceptional. Unique. It has a natural gravitas which commands your attention. (Why do you think I love working with him? Besides him being a great guy and a serious professional in everything he does, that is.) So, I’d hate to encourage him to not bust out immediately with the SAG rate (it’s … pretty high) since he’s leery of it being shot down. He’s just a natural, rare talent. This is no doubt a job in which he could excel – along with many others.

    But where to start?

    Also, this is clearly a long-form project. He’s to deliver all audio self-produced and in finished form online immediately following recording. I can’t imagine how he couldn’t tack on a bit more for that, right? Most of the rates I see are for per-minute, short-form, one-offs. This is an intensive commitment for an indefinite period of time.

    What should I advise?

    Your time is very much appreciated!

    – Aubianne


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