Voice Actor Rates & Voice Over Pricing

Voice Over pricing can vary wildly because a voice actors rates are set by the individual or their exclusive agent.

Experienced voice actors will have their own voice over rates card and although this may or may not be negotiable it’s important to understand what can influence the price of a voice over recording.

Some projects will cost much more even though they may require a similar time investment from the voice actor.

Here are three important questions to answer before you request a quote.

1. How will the voice over audio be used?

Arguably how the audio will be used has the biggest influence on the voice over rates charged.

Will the voice over be used in the public domain or internally? If it’s in the public domain, will it promote a product or service, or will it form ‘part’ of a product e.g. an electronic toy or video game? If it’s in the public domain, will it also be used in an advertising campaign? For example, a sponsored video on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram; on TV or Radio; or even In-flight.

Yep, there are lots of ways the audio can be used! It’s best to be as prescriptive as possible before contacting a voice actor agency.

The value a voice over adds will influence the cost.

 

2. How long is it?

To calculate the studio time required to record a script with the voice actor, we’ll need to know:

  • The word count of the script.
  • The intended duration of the final content.
  • How the audio should be edited and delivered.
  • The language used e.g. Is it technical, medical, lore related or more general?

All the above will impact the time it takes to produce the voice over.

 

3. Recording time-sync, lip-sync or wild?

How the script is read also influences the recording time. There are three recording types:

Wild recording script

Wild

Reading a script aloud at a voice actor's natural pace.

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Time-Sync

Reading a script in time to visuals or matching a prescribed duration.

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Lip-Sync

Reading a script exactly to match the lip movements.

Wild 

Most professional voice actors can record about 15-20 minutes (1,875 – 3,000 words) of standard narration wild in one hour. This includes time for listening back to the audio and re-recording any mistakes. However, the time varies depending on the type of project. For example, a professional narrator can frequently record 30-40 mins for an Audiobook in one hour. This is because they may be well prepared and/or are able to sight read making very few errors. The same narrator reading a technical eLearning programme may only record 10 mins of audio in the same hour.

Time-Sync

If the voice over must be time-synced to a video or recorded within a specific duration this will take about twice as long as a wild recording. This is because the actor will have to repeat the sentences many times to get the pacing right. It’s even more difficult if they must match an on-screen speaker or actor phrase by phrase, particularly if the speech is fast. Most voice actors can record around 10 minutes time-sync in one hour, but it can be less for foreign voice over, technical subjects or where timing is more complex.

Lip-Sync

Lip-sync voice over is extremely time consuming, it will take 4-6 times longer than a wild recording. The voice actor will have to repeat their lines dozens of times to get the timing right. And if they are performing a character role it can take even longer trying to get the timing and the emotion right. There are also pre-production costs associated with foreign dubbing projects because the script will need to be adapted (condensed) to match the lip movements. For this reason, lip-sync recordings are un-common and predominantly used only in feature films, animations or video games with higher budgets. Most corporate videos are dubbed time-sync instead or in a UN-style like a news interview where the voice over acts as an interpreter.

Metrics used to calculate voice over costs

Now you understand how long your script may take to record it should be easy to calculate the total cost right? Not so fast! Not all voice actors will charge on an hourly basis. Professional voice over rates are commonly charged using other metrics, for example:

 

# words

Audiobooks or eLearning are commonly charged per word.

# minutes

Explainers and corporate videos are often charged per minute.

# messages

Telephone messages or IVR prompts may be charged per message.

Eek! It’s confusing but it's because the voice over actor is charging for more than their time.

If their voice over is helping to service thousands of customers on a telephone IVR; to sell more Audiobooks; or promote products via a commercial -  the voice is adding intrinsic value to what you offer.

They are playing a key role in helping you to achieve success.

This is why it's best to know the usage of the audio before contacting us for a quote.

Voice over rates examples

The rates below are examples of what you should expect to pay for a typical project. Rates can vary depending on the project format and the individual voice actor selected.

Please always contact us with details of your specific requirements for an accurate quote.

Most rates are negotiable, we understand in business there are often fixed budgets to adhere to and we’ll do our best to accommodate your budget.

The Breakdown

BSF

The Basic Studio Fee paid to the voice actor averages @ £200 per hour but can vary a lot.

STUDIO

Producer and studio time to record the voice over with a  basic edit averages @ £60 per hour

POST

Additional file editing / cleaning / mixing time for soundtrack or for chopping files averages @ £60 per hour

USAGE

A negotiable additional fee paid to the voice actor for commercial work, normally quoted as a % of the BSF per year.

Corporate Videos & Explainers

The average corporate video or explainer is 3 minutes in duration. Most just sit on a website or social channel and are not sponsored so a usage fee does not normally apply.

 

BSF              £150 - £250

Studio         £60 - £120

Post            £60

Usage         Not usually applicable

 

Total:       £270 - £430

eLearning content

The average eLearning course is 20,000 words (approx. 2 hours of finished audio) and voice actors will frequently charge per word (£0.15 - £0.30 per word). We try to agree a fixed ‘project’ rate as this is about 2 days work in the studio.

BSF              £700 - £1,500

Studio         £720

Post            £650

Usage         Not usually applicable

 

Total:         £2,070 - £2,870

Audiobooks

Audiobooks are typically recorded and edited by the voice actor themselves and are only recorded in a studio if budget allows. The average book is 80,000 words and will take a professional narrator around 3-5 days to record and edit.

 

BSF              £500 - £1,500 per book

Studio         £1,200 per book (if needed)

Post            £1,250 per book

Usage         Not usually applicable

 

Total:       £500 - £3,000

Commercials on TV or Online

Commercials that appear online and on TV attract a usage fee in addition to the applicable recording and studio fees.

A local or short run campaign is usually about 100% BSF. Regional campaigns are 400% BSF. National campaigns are 600-1200% BSF per country, per year + 10% uplift per year for additional years. Similar with online.

BSF              £250 - £350 per hour

Studio         £60 per hour (£120 minimum)

Post            £60 per hour

Usage         200% - 1200% BSF per country, per year

 

Total:       £1,000 - £4,000

Telephone Messages & IVR

Most IVR projects & on-hold messages are under 20 messages / prompts to record and will fall under minimum pricing. However, if there are lots of individual numbers, letters, names or dates to record and edit in different intonations this can take extra time in the studio. Due to the start/stop nature of telephone prompts we can record about 1,000 words / 50 messages per hour. For number / date sets it’s around 200 - 300 an hour.

BSF              £150 - £250 per hour

Studio         £60 per hour (£120 minimum)

Post            £60 per hour

Usage         Not usually applicable

 

Total:       £330 - £490

Video Games and Animations

Voice Actors rates for video games and animations can vary significantly. An integral character for an AAA console game will attract a considerably higher fee than a budget Indie game on PC. The time required to record character voices is also difficult to estimate in advance. It depends on the amount of direction given to the actor and whether the audio is being recorded wild or with time constraints. For a character with less than 100 lines / 1,000 words the fees may be as follows:

BSF              £250 - £450 per hour

Studio         £60 per hour (£120 minimum)

Post            £60 per hour

Usage         +£250 or higher (normally fixed)

 

Total:       £620 - £1,080

All estimate prices are in GBP and exclude Value Added Tax.