A Guide to Non-Union Voice Rates
While voice over pay scale is pretty standard across the board for union voice actors, if you’re a non-union voice artist, you’ve probably asked yourself: how much should I charge for voice over work? And you wouldn’t be alone; as a non-union voice artist, you have the fickle luxury of setting your rates without union minimums to consider, but it’s often difficult to figure out where to start. Do you want to undercut the competition or charge more? The internet hasn’t just made voice over narration more accessible but exceedingly necessary in an increasingly virtual world. Having been in the industry for nearly 30 years, I’ve come up with a quick guide to setting non-union voice rates for eLearning, explainers, corporate narration, and commercials.
Voice Over Rates Per Word
For non-union voice over artists and union voice artists alike, a lot of voice over narration is paid by the word and includes editing.
Time-Based Voice Rates
Looking at time-based pay, on the other hand, it gets a little more complicated as voice talent rates can go one of three ways:
- Finished Minute
- Per Raw Hour
- Per Finished Hour
Voice Over Rate by Directed Sessions
When voice over rates are set by directed sessions, it simply means that the voice artist is paid by the job. For example, many audiobook producers pay voice artists for the completed project, as they can take 20+ hours to complete. Voice over rates for directed sessions usually include a session fee and extra charges per finished minute. While union voice over actors typically charge no more than $225 per finished hour on audiobook narration, non-union voice actor rates can easily range up to $500 for the same work. Voiceover royalties should be but are not always negotiated for any eLearning narration sold at a profit commercially.
eLearning Non-Union Voice Rates Guide
Now that you understand the different ways voice over rates can be invoiced, it’s time to go over the non-union eLearning rate guide.
As far as voice over rates go, eLearning is one of the more varied categories and doesn’t fall under just one invoicing method. You can be paid both by the word or finished minute. Like I mentioned earlier with audiobooks, some content runs considerably longer than others and should be invoiced accordingly.
eLearning Rates by Word
Much like in journalism or copywriting, this pay scale sees the voice over actor reading line by line, and the GVAA rate guide suggests an average rate of $0.25 per word and upwards of $0.35 per word on more complicated e-learning content. Just ask yourself how long it takes to record 1000 words accurately.
eLearning by Finished Minute
When a voice actor invoices by the finished minute, it means that editing has been included, and the voice over artist needs to submit a fully finished minute of e-learning content as required by the client. The GVAA suggested rate per finished minute begins at $35 but can quickly go up to $55 depending on how complex the texts and editing are. However, if the rate is hourly, you can charge between $600 to $1500 per hour, depending on whether it includes editing.
Guide to Non-Union Explainer Rates
Similar to non-union voice over rates for audiobooks, explainers are typically paid by the job and have a predetermined length. Usually falling between 90 seconds and three minutes, but no more than five, the non-union voice over rates for explainers can range between $200-$400, including a live-directed session or editing.
Corporate Narration Rates
Like with explainers, corporate narrations often run between a minute and a half to five minutes long and are paid out by the job itself. Although they take a similar amount of time as explainers, non-union voice over rates for corporate narration can cost considerably more and vary from $300 to $1500 per completed project.
Commercial Non-Union Voice Rates Guide
Non-union voice over rates for commercials are usually based on population. How many ears are going to hear it? How long is it going to be out there? These are the questions you need to ask when negotiating rates for commercial voice over work.
When the industry was based strictly on broadcast, the rates were determined by whether the commercial was local, regional, national, or international. The smaller regions with fewer than 100,000 people might pay $175, while commercials done on a national level can fetch voice over rates of $20,000 per contract.
Social Media Ads Voiceover Cost
With the advent of social media ads, cost estimates for voiceover are based on impressions instead of being tied to population levels. Now it’s possible for advertisers to directly target a set number of people with an interest in the product or service genre instead of casting a wide net and hoping it will fit some of your target demographic. It was initially speculated that social media ads wouldn’t be as impactful as broadcast commercials. Still, we’ve since learned the high ROI that comes from being able to place these commercials in front of people who want to access content. It has proven increasingly invaluable to advertisers, so pricing is now in line with broadcast fees.
How Telephony Rates are Priced
Voice over rates for telephony are based on something called prompts. Phone prompts are essentially options that a business or service gives to callers – anytime you hear for English, press 1; for Spanish, press 2, or hear a phone menu, that’s a prompt. Each prompt can range anywhere from a single line to about a paragraph long and needs to be cut into individual files to be loaded into the software that allows people to interact with it or select different options. Prompts can range from $25-$75 depending on the company’s size and usually include a threshold minimum (i.e., $100) to begin a project.