BSF is an acronym which 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 doesn’t seem to appear anywhere else. In essence, it is the fee agreed for the recording of a script, without any ‘usage’ or ‘residuals’ attached. If you don’t know what usage is, the article linked below will be helpful. It’s also worth noting that in North America specifically, the BSF is often also referred to as ‘Scale’. The term Scale originates from the acting industry and is a reference to the minimum rate (traditionally a daily rate) that a talent requires for their working performances.
Usually, BSF is worked out at a minimum hourly rate. This is to ensure that any small projects that may only take, for example, 10 minutes to record multiple takes are still worth the voice-over actor’s time to set-up and record at home, or to travel to and from the 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, and that you can expect the artist to be available to record as many different scripts and projects as possible within that time.
Nope. This is actually rarely the case.
Projects are always agreed based on a review of the script in advance of the recording session.
The BSF for one-hour also includes the prep time a voice-actor must do to set up the studio and practice reading the script. Practice is particularly key if there are specific or unusual words in the script (such as medical terms, for example). Then, when the session begins, there is up to one hour allocated to record that script as many times as necessary.
This vital prep-time is missed entirely if the script is extended at the last minute, or an entirely new script is suddenly included.
However, this isn’t the only reason that BSF isn’t exclusively based on the time of the recording session.
Multiple scripts may be considered separate projects entirely.
It is not unusual for voice actors and agencies to charge on a “per project” basis. This may be at a lower rate than the usual BSF, but it will still be a “per project” basis. There is a certain amount of usage that is usually included with the BSF (for things like training, or possibly a pitch for a TV commercial that is only shown at one presentation), and charging a different BSF or a separate usage fee for these extra scripts is common practice.
A sudden increase in the length of script for the same project might seem like less of a problem – if it’s still possible to record it within the hour, then what’s the problem? This is a bit more subjective, and can be based on the individual voice actor, but there are some standard practices that it is best to abide by.
Generally, each BSF is agreed in advance with the voice-over artist. Some voice actors charge on a “per word” basis, particularly for e-learning and long form content. The key here is the word agreed. Sneaking things in at the last minute and trying to get it recorded at the same time is a change in scope and at best will require a new quote, or at worst the artist ending the deal.
Imagine a joiner (or 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 hang the door. But it only takes them 10 minutes, because they’re so skilled and experienced. Would the joiner be happy to just muck in with some other DIY help you need? Would you ask the joiner to just paint the stairs in the remaining 50 minutes? It’s very unlikely. The same logic applies when booking a male or female voice-over artist.
The BSF for an experienced professional voice-over actor, is a rate that includes the specified time to record a script.
The BSF includes the artist’s prep-time, their studio maintenance and running costs, and the experience they have gained through their career.
It is always necessary to agree in advance to everything that needs to be recorded and expect an additional fee for increases in the length of script or extra scripts.
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Author: Alex Harris-MacDuff
Editor: Al Black
Picture – Ekaterine