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What is a 'BSF'?

By Alex Harris-MacDuff | 23rd September 2019

BSF is an acronym that stands for either Basic Session Fee or Basic Studio Fee.

Both terms mean the same thing. 

BSF is a term that crops up frequently in the voice-over industry, and in essence, it's the fee agreed to record a script without any 'usage' or 'residuals' attached. 

If you don't know what usage is, our other article about usage fees will be helpful. It's worth noting that the BSF is often also referred to as 'Scale' in North America specifically. Scale originates from the acting industry and refers to the minimum rate (traditionally a daily rate) that talent requires for their working performances.

Usually, calculating BSF is easy—a minimum or hourly rate. Small projects that may only take, for example, 10 minutes to record are paid as a minimum BSF, ensuring it's still worth the voice-over talents time whether they record at home or to travel to a studio location.

"BSF is the fee agreed for recording the script and will not include any usage fees."

A common misconception is to assume that the BSF is exclusively about the recording time, e.g. a one-hour recording session. And in that one-hour session, you can request the artist to record various scripts within that time. 

Nope, this is rarely the case. 

Projects agreed based on a review of the scripts in advance of the recording session. Please remember, the BSF for one hour also includes the preparation time for a voice actor to set up the studio and rehearse. Practice is particularly crucial if there are specific or unusual words in the script (such as medical terms, for example). When the session begins, up to one hour is allocated to record that script as many times as necessary.


Actor rehearsing a script on stage

The BSF also includes the time for an actor to rehearse or familiarise themselves with the script.


This vital prep-time becomes worthless with a script rewrite or the addition of an entirely new script. However, this isn't the only reason that BSF isn't just about time.


Each script may be an independent project.

It is not unusual for voice actors and agencies to charge on a "per project" basis. And this may be at a lower rate than the talents usual BSF, but it will still be a per script/project basis. 

The BSF always includes a certain amount of usage for internal projects, such as training material or even a pitch for a TV commercial for one meeting. So charging a different BSF or a separate usage fee for any extra scripts is easily calculated. However, a sudden increase in the script length for the same project might seem less of a problem. If it's still possible to record it within the hour, then what's the problem? 

Well. This is a bit more subjective. Individual talent may have independent views on this, but following some standard practices should avoid issues in most cases.

ALSO READ: Voice-Over Definition & Spelling

Generally, a BSF is a fee agreed upon in advance of the session because there are various ways to calculate session fees. Some voice actors agree per word rates for e-learning. Others may charge per minute for explainer videos. 

The key here is the word agreed

Sneaking new scripts or extensive edits in at the last minute isn't cool. It's a change in scope, and no professional will accept changes without the time to review and potentially requote.


voice actor reading an additional scriptHow to make the artist grumpy: sneak in additional scripts before the session.


Imagine a joiner (carpenter for the Americans reading) has come around to your house to hang a door. The joiner has estimated and charged for one hour's work to complete the job, but it only takes them 10 minutes because they're so skilled and experienced. 

Would the joiner be happy to share other duties like painting your stairs for the remaining 50 minutes? It's improbable. The same logic applies when booking a professional voice-over talent.



The BSF includes:

  • The artist's prep-time.
  • Their studio maintenance and running costs.
  • The experience they have gained through their career.

It is always necessary to agree to everything that needs to be recorded and expect an additional fee for increases in the length of the script or additional scripts.

The BSF for any experienced professional voice-over talent, narrator or voice actor includes a specified time to record pre-agreed material only.

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Alex Harris-MacDuff

Alex Harris-MacDuff

Some people say rock ‘n’ roll is a matter of life and death. I can assure you, it’s much more important than that.

About Author

Alex Harris-MacDuff

Alex Harris-MacDuff

Some people say rock ‘n’ roll is a matter of life and death. I can assure you, it’s much more important than that.

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