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UVT Blog

The Art of Negotiating a Voiceover Rate


Clients from all over the globe are seeking voice talents to lend a voice to their projects. Commercials, narrations, IVR prompts, promos and more. Some have been hiring voice actors for a long time and understand the rate structure. Some have not and it's the responsibility of the voice actor to explain why we charge what we do and how usage fees apply.


If you're new to the voiceover business and are unfamiliar with what a usage fee is, this is when additional fees are paid to the voice actor for the ongoing use of their voice recording. They are a licensing agreement made between the client and the voice actor. They are occasionally referred to as buy-out fees.


Talent agents know the rate structure more than anyone in the business and if you're ever presented with a multi-platform job opportunity, it's best to turn it over to your talent agent. Yes, you would have to give up the 10-15% commission, but it's worth saving your mental bandwidth! It can become overwhelming negotiating rates when the client wants to use your voice for TV, radio, internet, social media ads, etc. Not only will your talent agent negotiate the best possible rate for you, they will also figure in the usage fees as well. Plus, what a great way to keep a solid relationship with your agent and believe me, they will return the favor when you send them a new client!


When you're working with VO buyer direct, sometimes it takes a little patience on the phone, as you will often have to explain to a newer buyer how our rate structure works. You may even get a snarky response once in a while when you mention the usage fee. Some clients will understand and pay all costs associated with the voiceover job. Others will not have the budget for a usage fee and some will not even be able to afford the industry-standard rate on the job. This is where you will need to spend ample time negotiating. This should be familiar territory if you've ever been in sales before.


The key is remaining calm and patient. Don't get flustered with pushback. A call like this was inevitable. Keep the conversation professional yet lighthearted. Joke around a little and be likable! Clients who may not have the initial budget to pay the industry standard rate plus usage fee will be more inclined to stretch their budget and make it work if they like you and believe that your voice is the best fit for their project. And always get them on the phone. Do NOT negotiate via email.


Ask questions about their business. Make the conversation more about them than you. I used to work in radio/TV advertising back in the day and the skills I learned in that profession helped my voiceover business tremendously.


One of the best voiceover rate cards available online is the GVAA rate card. These rates are pretty close to the rates most talent agents use. You can find this at https://globalvoiceacademy.com/gvaa-rate-guide-2/