A lot of people wonder about the cost of professional voice over. So many tech advances and the accessibility of creating your own content make it seem like a DIY approach may be smart. And in some cases, it might be true. However, for any voice over to be heard above the content clutter and lead to actual sales, it has to attract attention and legitimacy. A high-quality and professional product is a smart investment and the best way to get the results you want.
To clarify, not using professional voice over has a cost as well. An unprofessional-sounding voiceover takes away your credibility. Undermines your authority and your message. Make certain the voice of your message matches your intention and hits your targets. Professional voiceover actors spend years learning how to unlock the power of persuasion, the talent of teaching, and effective entertainment. A professional company offering a professional product or service should use professional voice over artists. The return on investment (ROI) you get in attention, actual sales, and leads is more than worth it.
How the Cost of Voice Over Breaks Down
Actual pricing is always broken down into use, time, and population. Actors never sell but license the use of their voice. There are several good resources online to get baselines rates, One of the most respected rate guides among non-union voice over professionals is the GVAA rate guide. The GFTB rate guide is also a trusted resource. For Union rates, there is SAG/AFTRA, and I researched and compiled a widely referenced resource on my site, the eLearning rate guide for voice over.
Most of the time you get what you pay for. Cheaper artists normally offer their services at a lower rate because they are inexperienced and working to improve. More expensive voice over artists cost more because they already have that experience. Often these variations of voice over artists who are above or below the standard industry are a result of time spent figuring out voice over rates that factor in criteria like geography or level of experience or how hungry an artist happens to be for the work.
Another interesting tidbit. Most professional voice over artists only spend 20% of their time doing voice over. The rest of the time is spent finding jobs, doing paperwork, research, and learning new skills to make sure they improve or stay on top of trends in providing quality voice over. Overhead is factored in recording equipment, DAW, and software to make sure recordings meet or exceed industry standards.
Professional voice over artists invest a lot of time and money to keep their business sustainable. Those artists who offer very cheap services are not able to upscale, improve their recording space, or broaden their marketing efforts, and therefore, are often fly-by-night and unsustainable. This may cost you in the long run as they won’t be available for updates, pickups, or extended campaigns.
Yesterday a client of mine said, “Thank goodness we used you. If you hadn’t been able to record that quick new line (on an ad we recorded 8 months ago) we would have had to spend thousands re-shooting everything this weekend.” Other factors that influence the cost include the nature of the project, how complex is the script, how long will the project take, is it going to be broadcast internationally for a union model cycle (13 weeks) or in perpetuity?
The uninitiated in the industry underestimate the time involved in creating great voice over and assume pretty much anyone can do it. For fun, check out this WhatCulture list of 10 Video games ruined by terrible voice acting, as they put it “Sloppy voices can make a game seem cheap and unprofessional, therefore lowering general opinions of it and subsequently harming its ratings.”
Balancing The Cost of Professional Voice Over
When hiring a voice over artist you need to find the sweet spot. Spending a fortune on graphics and visuals and falling short in other areas (like sound and voice actors) could crash the whole project and the next thing you know your expensive project is on a top 10 worst list.
It reminds me of my fav quote from the LA Film School on the importance of sound. “Poor sound can ruin an otherwise spectacular production.” Saving a buck in the short term can be detrimental to your ROI in the long term. So how much does voice over actually cost? As much or as little as you want it to, but the quality is entirely up to you and how you set your budget.
If you have more questions on the cost of professional voice over services, post them here and I’ll be happy to answer them!