Choosing a voice over agency is no easy task. There are a lot of things to consider both about the agency and your specific project.
For instance, an agency that produces national commercials is going to have different expertise, requirements and timelines than an audiobook production house. Even within the audiobook world there are different niches – for example audio textbooks or romance box sets?
You want an agency that partners best with your project, so you get what you need to create a lasting relationship, and can return with future projects, building value upon that foundation.
At Voquent, we work hard to bridge the gap between customer, agency and voice over talent. We’re not a middle man that adds zero value to the process. Not only do we educate our customers and voices about the process about the to make sure everyone is on the same page. We keep misunderstandings to a minimum and ensure a project is delivered at the highest possible quality. Having said that, we are not necessarily the best choice of voice over agency for every customer but we are the agency that wants every customer to be educated about what’s involved to make an informed decision.
Let’s run through 7 assumptions to avoid when choosing the right voice over agency for you.
1. “I have to record in my city to get it done properly.”
It’s easy to assume that you need to find a voice over agency in your area, but with the reach and efficiency of the internet, this might not be what your project actually needs. We often get customers from London for example who want to record at a local London recording studio. This is only really required for top tier content where face to face direction and maximum audio quality are of paramount importance. It’s easy to get excellent quality voice over from several time zones away. It’s even possible to be virtually in the studio with the voice talent in many instances, if you’d really like to be present to direct the session live. Many agencies will offer a live session direction option for additional fees. At Voquent we pre-approve all voice over talent and you can see if a voice has a home studio with the home studio icon on their sample.
2. “All voice over agencies basically do the same thing.”
One agency does not necessarily fit all. Some agencies will only represent talent in a specific niche or union talent with union rates. Others will represent specific languages or accents more prominently. One agency may merely connect you with a voice talent and then the two of you will partner together to finish a project, but another agency may be a full production house including casting, recording and post production services (or in the case of Voquent, translations and accessibility solutions as well).
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3. “All agencies pay talent in the same way.”
This is another common misconception. Not all agencies use a similar pay structure. Some will take 20% of the project rate and give the rest to the talent. Others will pay talent based on commission, or hours worked, or some sort of monthly agreement so it’s not clear what is paid to the talent at all. If this matters to you, then it’s absolutely appropriate for you to request a breakdown of how talent, agency and production team gets paid for any project. Don’t assume that talent will get exactly the rate stated in the quote.
4. “Agencies don’t need to know everything about my project, do they?”
Yes. They. Do.
It’s extremely important that you’re 100% honest with any agency about what your project is for, where it will be used and what the plan is for the final voice over audio you’ll receive. Not being up front with an agency about where content will be broadcast can really damage the relationship between the customer and agency. Plus, it can make your quote inaccurate if you aren’t paying proper usage fees. This can lead to the reputations of both the agency and the brand being damaged further down the line, as well as possible legal action. Recently we had an unfortunate incident at Voquent where a customer withheld information from us about the particular high-profile brand that was going to use the final voice over audio files, right until the last minute. We were forced to sever the relationship – which is always hugely embarrassing and costs everyone time and energy. Not ideal at all.
5. “I need the lowest priced service.”
This isn’t necessarily the case. Sure, you can have your text read, recorded, edited and returned to you for a nominal cost, but this doesn’t factor in the voice actor’s talent or experience. Also, you’ll want to consider factors such as the level of service provided (such as, how is the communication and response time?) and reviews of past satisfied customers. An agency or voice over talent with hundreds of five-star reviews and notable past customers will be able to offer a lot more assurance of satisfaction than someone who is just starting out. This is not to say that new talent shouldn’t be trusted, not at all! But is definitely something to take into consideration when comparing prices and quotes between agencies.
6. “I can revise the script and get it re-recorded for free.”
Typically, once a talent is selected to work on a specific project, any changes to the script after that will incur additional fees. You’re not only paying for a talent’s time in studio, but time spent practicing your copy, as well as editing and delivering the recording, PLUS usage fees on top of that. If you need a more thorough breakdown on usage fees and buy-outs, head here for an explanation.
ALSO READ: Why Cheap Voice-Overs Will Cost You More
7. “Re-records are included until I’m fully satisfied.”
Make sure you communicate fully with your agency about rates for pickups and revisions. It’s safe to assume that most agencies won’t record pickups free of charge unless the talent has made a mistake. Additionally, if there are difficult to pronounce words (names of people and places can be particularly tricky) in your script, do the talent a favor and include a pronunciation guide or an audio file to help them get it right the first time. This saves everyone the headache of having to re-record and charge additional fees.
Creating voice over content with an online agency can be a joyful process of partnership, or it can be like pulling teeth. It all depends on excellent communication and honesty between all parties. Make sure you find someone to work with who brings the best to your project, including voice over talent, post-production engineers, and producers.
We at Voquent hope we’re the right fit, but if not, we hope you’re armed with the right information to choose your partner well.
About the author
Caroline Cole works as a writer, voiceover actor, director, and teacher. Her passion for literacy, storytelling, arts advocacy, and creative living help her use her voice and words to jazz up road trips, speed up long lines, and un-boring plane rides.