How Much Does Voiceover Really Pay?

Voiceover Lessons for Beginners #5

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Text Synopsis:

Lesson focus: pay rates for voiceover work

Two categories: union jobs, and non-union jobs.

Union jobs: In the US, SAG-AFTRA ( rates for most union voiceover work. Information presented here is primarily based on SAG-AFTRA. Some other countries have their own talent unions.

The union sets minimum rates. You may be able to negotiate a higher rate with the client. Rates depend on media type and usage.

Session fees are paid for the actual recording. Royalty payments (“residuals”) may be paid depending on usage. Rates range from several hundred to many thousands of dollars, depending on the specifics of the job. Certain low-budget SAG contracts allow talent and client to negotiate fees.

You may also earn health, pension and other benefits depending on your earnings or hours worked.

Non-union work: No minimums; whatever the client is willing to pay. Most jobs do not pay residuals. Range is from nothing to many thousands, depending on job specifics.

Job sites like Fiverr are typically the lower end of the pay range, in terms of average fees per job, followed by casting sites like Voice123 and Voices, then talent agencies (generally speaking).

Premium talent and celebrities are often paid well above industry standards and union minimums.

What should you charge? Many novice talent do low budget work to get experience then move up to higher paid work. Some talent do low pay jobs in exchange for higher volume. If you join a union you’ll have to abide by their rules. If you work through an agent, they will usually handle the money issues. Charge what you feel you’re worth once you get established.

ASSIGNMENT: add a smile to your reads.

  • One of the basic and most useful tools for the VO actor.
  • Smile adds warmth, makes you more likeable, more approachable, more expressive, more energetic.
  • If you can’t generate a real gut smile yet, force a smile and think of something that makes you happy or laugh. Keep trying, you’ll get there.
  • The goal is to be able to turn your smile on and off and dial it up and down at will.
  • It’s not a substitute for a really connected, nuanced performance, and you won’t always use it, but it goes a long way in a lot of situations.

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