By Stephanie Ciccarelli
April 27, 2010
Rates is a sensitive topic regardless of industry.
As we begin, let me first say that as a marketplace our primary responsibility is to facilitate business relationships that yield fruitful returns for our customers. A person in need of a custom voice over recording can visit Voices.com and find someone to work with quickly and cost-effectively. Similarly, a voice over professional who wants to market their voice and obtain business opportunities for work may also use Voices.com to achieve their goals.
Our role is to connect people and provide a platform for them to conduct business.
Setting rates is not part of what a marketplace does.
While we understand our unique role in the industry as facilitator, we are keenly aware of the need some talent have for establishing a rate sheet that indicates a range they may choose to quote within. Similarly, there are some clients who also appreciate resources and who have asked for a road map to follow with regard to how much they could budget for their voice overs.
If you're curious about some of the challenges we face and want to further explore the topic of voice over rates, read on.
Over the years, it has been difficult for freelance non-union voice over professionals to both set and preserve what they are able to charge for their fees. While union professionals have a rate card to reference that is standard across the board in most cases, union talent may charge the minimum rate as quoted on the sheet or above it should their clientele wish to pay more for the services rendered to them.
Non-union voice talent also reserve the right to set and charge their own fees.
Bearing this in mind, there is no set standard for non-union rates which leaves a wide spectrum for setting fees.
The marketplace brings its own set of challenges.
Voices.com has been in business for 6 years. We serve both union and non-union voice over professionals and both union and non-union producers. During this time we have actively listened to our customers to learn more about what they wanted to see delivered in terms of service, features and benefits.
Something we have chosen to do is to provide resources for those starting out, for people who are seasoned professionals and also for those who are looking to hire voice over talent.
One common question that people had, on both sides, had to do with the cost of a voice over and wanted us to make it easier for them to distinguish average of rates for particular applications of voice over compiled from a variety of non-union professional voice talent.
From what I have heard and read and been told, many voice talent expect that Voices.com educates clients on their behalf and ensure that the people who are seeking voice over services are informed of what a voice over might cost prior to asking for auditions and price quotes.
In response to customer feedback, we have incorporated suggestions received from talent members and gone back and forth on this particular issue many times to best serve our customers. As a result, we decided to provide resources that indicate what the working professional may be charging for their work for various market sizes and applications. This particular resource is known as the voice over rate sheet.
The voice over rate sheet helps to identify what some working voice over professionals are charging and provides a range for clients who are unfamiliar with what the cost may be. This helps people who haven't worked directly with talent to know in advance what they may need to budget for work they need recorded.
Every few years, we revisit the rate sheets and update them with more current information reflecting what our members feel should be addressed.
With respect to rates, minimum budget requirements, and security we have done the following for you:
Minimum of $100 for Posting a Public Job
One of the practical and effective practices we have put into place is instituting a budget minimum of $100 in order to have a job publicly posted to qualified professionals. This pleases customers who want better quality job postings and or postings that pay higher dollar amounts. Having a minimum fee for posting also protects you and prevents a casting call going out from a producer who doesn't expect to pay any money at all for the work they hope to procure.
Being Able to Filter Jobs
Voice talent at Voices.com can choose to receive work posted within certain budget ranges and exclude opportunities that they don't want to apply for. For instance as a talent, should you prefer not to see jobs in the $100-$250 range, you can visit your preferences and set them accordingly.
Voices.com Provides You With a Safe Payment Service
Have you heard of SurePay? SurePay (TM) is what we call our escrow service. Talent had often asked us if we were going to be charging the clients anything for using our service. We tried a few different ideas but SurePay was the winner as it ensured client satisfaction and also ensured that talent would be paid for their work.
David Ciccarelli, Voices.com's CEO, designed SurePay and developed it with our team, also seeking consultation from financial and legal advisers. SurePay was funded and built from the ground up by Voices.com in direct response to customer feedback.
In your account, you can choose whether you'd like to be paid by Voices.com on behalf of your client by PayPal or by check in the mail. You can do this now within your account by clicking on the link below:
Receiving payment by PayPal is the default preference, however, if you'd like to avoid the PayPal fee we can send you a check. It will simply take longer to get to you through the postal system.
Payments are made on the 1st and 15th of each month. If you picked PayPal as your means for receiving payment, you will receive payment on either the 1st or 15th of the month. If you chose to have a check mailed to you, it would be sent out on the 1st or 15th of the month. Should the 1st or 15th of the month fall on a Canadian holiday, payment will be sent the following business day.
The single biggest challenge we face revolves around voice over rates and meeting the expectations of some talent who feel that some budgets are too low for what is being asked of them professionally.
Similarly, we face the challenge of being able to service customers who need voice overs recorded but may not have a budget that reflects or is agreeable to the market's going rate for a voice over of that particular scope, requirements or dimensions.
While we have a budget minimum for posting of $100, sometimes this figure may fall short of what some talent may wish to see on a per application or category basis as I alluded to earlier. We are currently working on new budget minimum requirements based upon voice overs for more specified projects and your ideas are most welcome via an email sent directly to me at stephanie(at)voices.com or left as comments on this entry.
Let's take a look at one example in particular to illustrate the point and challenge.
One area where this has been problematic in the past has been audiobooks because so much of the actual recording and editing is relative to individual reading skills and technical abilities.
After speaking with award-winning narrator Simon Vance on one of our teleseminars, he suggested that $200 per finished hour is acceptable for proficient voice talent who also act as engineers and standard so far as the union rate goes.
$200 per finished hour of audio can be a great rate if you are able to edit with proficiency. From what I gather, it really comes down your ability to read well and your editing skills. You'll need to factor in how long it takes you to read (i.e. how many words per minute can you read?) and also the length of time it takes you to edit out any breaths, coughs, and so on.
Bear in mind that $200 per finished hour is a union rate. Some narrators may command higher fees. Non-union talent reserve the right to set their own base rates and may be choose to charge the union rate or higher, or conversely, they may set their fees lower according to their rate card.
Length of Time Devoted to an Audiobook
On average, a person can comfortably speak between 150-170 words per minute. You may find it helpful to time yourself reading something you haven't seen before or have reviewed once to gauge how many words per minute you yourself can read.
Generally speaking, the average audiobook may consume at least three weeks of your life. You'll be working on that audiobook each day for nearly a month, and if you are not a good engineer or have difficulty reading well with consistency, it may be longer.
Quoting, with regard to audiobooks, is mainly relative to how long it will take you to record and edit the recording if required. You might also want to take distribution into account. An audiobook recorded for a famed author may pay more than narrating the works of a comparatively unknown author or self-published author.
Relativity... Getting Back to the Point:
When something is relative, it is by nature different for everyone and there isn't a one size fits all solution. What you need to on an individual basis where audiobook and long form narration is concerned is to evaluate per word how long it would take you to record. If the amount of time it will take you to complete the project is satisfactory with the amount of money the client has budgeted, go for it! If you find that the budget is lower than you might have expected but you still want to record the audiobook, let the client know what your concerns are and note that you are open to discussing it further.
One thing that is important to note is that while everything is relative, it doesn't mean that you need to compromise beyond what you feel comfortable with or what you feel is right for you.
Should an opportunity not be appealing to you, simply let it pass. A number of talent have written negative messages to clients in their proposals which have done little to convince them to increase their budget. A client is more likely to increase their budget to meet your needs if you communicate in a polite manner that states facts, not feelings.
This strategy works well for us when we are in the initial stages of evaluating jobs that are submitted for posting at Voices.com. If the budget is very low, we do recommend to the clients that they increase their budget presenting them with facts, not feelings. When we do so, the majority of clients are happy to take what was said into consideration and adjust their budgets accordingly.
Keep in mind that everything is relative. This also goes for the budgets some clients are working with and also how they perceive the role of the voice over.
Every client that walks through the virtual doors of Voices.com is different, whether it be their unique brand, the size of their company or the amount of work they need recorded. Some companies will have dozens of projects that they need to complete each month while others may simply want one voice over recorded each year.
Some clients have their own production departments and are familiar with how the casting process works, how much money they should budget and know how to provide creative direction.
Some clients may be completely new to hiring voice talent, creating ads or branding their organizations with voice. They may not know how much a voice over costs for what they need to have done.
We do our best to meet the needs of each customer and serve them well. By doing so, we are able to present more quality opportunities to our voice talent members and continue to deliver on our promise.
You'll find that some clients fully realize how powerful a voice over is and understand how your voice weaves itself into the fabric of their overall design. Others may not be aware of the significance of a voice over and merely see it as an item that needs to be crossed off a list of project related tasks. This may be particularly true if the voice over is not the focus of their project or integral to its completion.
The perceived value of the voice over is relative to how the person hiring voice over talent feels about the voice over's role in the final production.
To put this into other words with different examples, we experience similar things with our customers.
Do all voice talent perceive the value of the marketplace in the same way? No, they don't!
Some people place value only on getting a return on their investment that covers their subscription fee while others value a number of things in addition to the core service. These may include the ability to audition, be searched for, be featured, be found, have access to industry experts for assistance and guidance, belong to a community, be part of teleseminars, enjoy podcasts, blogs, customer acquisition and so on.
Value is relative just as beauty is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.
How do you determine what your rates are? Do people need justification for your rates or are they easy going?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
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