The idea of hiring professional voice actors is often not given the importance it deserves by some audiovisual producers. Moreover, there’s the misleading impression that anyone can do voiceover work, provided that they have at least a decent enough voice.
The reality is that a professional voiceover job can either boost or thwart the impact of a video on its target audience, which is why it’s crucial not to skimp on seeking professional voice narration capable of instilling conviction and trust.
How Much Could a Professional Voice Artist Charge?
In general terms, you could get quotes ranging from $250 to around $3,000 (or even more if the person tasked with doing the voiceover is particularly renowned). The pricing naturally varies depending on a wide array of factors such as the scope, length, and usage of the video project, as well as the experience and prestige of the voice talent in question.
We’ll now go into detail regarding the cost factors that can determine the rate of a professional voiceover job:
Reach and Usage
Usage is related to where, how, and for how long the voiceover work would be utilized. For example, if the voice track is to be inserted in a television commercial or any other type of public broadcast, you would expect the rates to be higher since the reach will be larger.
In addition, the costs will likewise invariably increase depending on whether the video would only be viewed by a reduced group of people or by local, regional, national, or international audiences.
With all that said, these would be some of the most common usages:
Radio and TV Broadcast
As was already hinted above, the cost of voice actors for TV broadcasts is normally higher in proportion to the amount of money regularly moved within these contexts.
Needless to say, all of this is prospectively compensated by the revenues that would ensue from reaching such large audiences, especially during prime-time hours.
In this regard, it would be hard to find voiceover artists charging anything less than $400 for TV-broadcasted videos, while radio broadcast voiceovers range from $250 to $1,800, depending on duration and the market size being addressed.
Social Media Videos
The rates of voiceovers for social media videos are not that different from the numbers seen for TV broadcasts, ranging from $400 to $3,000 on average.
The underpinning reasoning behind these pricing structures derives from the surge in popularity of social media platforms and the pressing need to target that novel market.
This popularity is supported by recent surveys. Specifically, a 2021 Pew Research study showed that 81% of Americans had used video-sharing sites such as YouTube, and seven out of ten Americans have ever used social media sites within the past five years.
Another survey made in the recent past disclosed that digital consumers were prone to spending close to 2 hours consuming social media content. This is a great opportunity for businesses, activists, and other organizations to bring their audiovisual content online.
Furthermore, social media, owing to its wider accessibility and capability to host people and businesses from all over the world, have a correspondingly broader reach than most TV and radio networks could ever envision having.
The corporate video category encompasses a wide array of variants. You can find videos for product demonstrations, training employees, or even presenting the values and goals of a company.
We can generally classify corporate videos as follows:
- Internal: These videos are only intended for a limited audience, to wit, the employees or shareholders of a company. These videos tend to be short-lived and of a poorer production quality because of their limited scope. Voice actors could charge between $250 and $300 for 2- or 3-minute internal corporate videos.
- External: External corporate videos are those that companies make available to the public eye via their website, social media profile, vendor platform, marketplace, or any other public medium. These can go from full-on market campaigns to product demonstrations and tutorials. Voiceover professionals would ordinarily charge from $300 to $450 for a 2-3 minute video of this sort.
It’s a given that length plays an immense role in the rate calculation.
Within the usage categories described above, voice actors will frequently devise a pricing scheme that considers both word count and recording duration. This is because, on many occasions, videos can include interviews or any other segments that don’t require the voice actor’s input.
These are some examples of approximate price ranges:
- 0- to 1-minute video with up to 150 words: From $50 to $200.
- 2- to 5-minute video with 150 to 700 words: From $200 to $350.
- 15- to 30-minute video with 2250 to 4500 words: From $500 to $750.
- 45- to 60-minute video with 6750 to 9000 words: From $1000 to $1250.
These amounts would be usually charged for “regular” voiceover jobs without factoring into the equation the video’s usage or the actor’s experience.
Fame and Experience
A voice artist’s recognition and track record considerably impact the quotations you receive during your search. Two considerations ought to be made in this respect:
- Experience entails that the voice actor has had continued success in past performances throughout his/her career and has additionally honed his/her skills over an extended period.
- The participation of a celebrity in your project might beget better brand recognition and a much greater chance of earning the attention of your target audience and getting the message across. This allowed documentaries such as March of the Penguins (voiced by Morgan Freeman) to achieve critical acclaim.
In the end, what matters is the benefit/cost ratio. While it’s not guaranteed that your video production will ultimately succeed based on these considerations, the rewards are more likely to outweigh the risks with celebrity artists than with amateur artists.
As part of the usual bargaining practices that one could adopt in these dealings, some voice actors reward a larger workflow with discounts, particularly if the scripts are assigned at the same time.
The deals may differ depending on the professional in question. Some actors would charge full price for the first few scripts and apply the discounts to subsequent scripts. Others may apply the discount for the entire batch. This may also hinge on the relationship between the professional and the contractor.
To put it in layman’s terms, a pickup is an act of overriding or correcting an already-existing segment of a voiceover track if the producer deems that the delivery was deficient or could be improved.
It’s frequent to see deals from voice actors that include a certain number of pickups. Beyond that specific threshold, the professional may ask for a surcharge.
Pickups resulting from mistakes in the professional’s execution (e.g., misreadings, technical glitches, etc.) should be under the artist’s responsibility. However, producers may be surcharged for pickups asked for due to script changes or to satisfy their preferences.
You may sometimes arrange with the actor alternative takes for a slight increase, allowing you to choose one over the other. Sometimes, this may be the cheapest option if you’re unsure about the tone you want for your video production (depending, of course, on the length.)
Production Companies Vs. Independent Artists
At various points, you may consider getting the help of a production company, especially if you are short on time and unable to place the entire video production process under your purview. These companies would likewise have their voice professionals already lined up for gigs.
However, be mindful that production companies tend to cost a considerable amount of money in exchange for the time they save you from filming, editing, post-processing, and recording, let alone auditioning prospective voice artists for your audiovisual content.
On the flip side, production companies are wont to use top-of-the-line equipment to guarantee the highest production quality possible, as well as the means for sorting out and sourcing the best talents for any production gig. All of these elements are worth considering when assessing your options.
If you are aiming for a functional video to show employees or people in your closest circles, you could try finding talents at certain freelancer sites such as Fiverr or Upwork. However, you’d have to cope with subpar audio, even if the articulation might be top-notch.
This is to be expected, as Fiverr and similar platforms have been a hotbed for amateur freelancers who want to jumpstart their careers in voice acting and other fields.