Guide to booking a Voiceover

There are several things to consider when you are booking a voiceover session.

Do a bit of research about whom you are thinking of booking.

With the emergence of great, but relatively cheap & easy recording technology, there are plenty of people who claim that they are voiceovers. Of course, we all have a voice, but only a small number of us can claim to voice on a daily basis as a profession, using equipment that we have invested in over the years to provide high quality broadcast audio. Some people are hobbyists and voice alongside their ‘proper’ jobs. This is all fine and is often reflected in the price (you can get a cheap job), but it’s likely that you won’t get a good quality audio, there will be noise reflection and tininess in their audio, along with a slightly amateur read. Anything that you place alongside your brand needs to be of the highest quality, otherwise you are saying to the public that you aren’t a good quality brand.

What sort of audio do you need?

It’s not enough to say that you need a corporate read for The Widget Factory. Think about the content and the style of read that you would like to hear. Give your voice artist a good brief as to the tone and pace of delivery you want. Is it conversational? Relaxed? Bright? Or is it slow paced, with gravitas perhaps? If you have music to run behind the voice, then it’s always a good idea to have a choice selected as this can inform a good voiceover as to a delivery that would suit the music.

What sort of audio do you need?

In what format do you require your audio files to be in? 

It’s usually an mp3 or a WAV file (a higher quality, but bigger file). However, if you are using your audio on a website or a telephone system and you aren’t dealing with the audio yourself then double check with the producer how they would like the files.  Getting this information upfront means that the voiceover will record in the correct format straight away, rather than having to convert it afterwards or sometimes having to rerecord it if it’s not correct. These days, audio is emailed across using a file sharing server like WeTransfer or YouSendIt as a download link, as they can be fairly large files which standard email often bounces back.

How much is this all going to cost?

This is the chicken and the egg question. A voiceover will have a general idea as to their rates for a certain job, but then often they are hoping that the client (that’s you) has an idea of the budget they have to spend, as everything is negotiable within reason.  In your initial consultation when asking for a quote, give as much information as you can.

  • Word Count (the script if possible, perhaps taking out sensitive material if necessary)
  • Do you require the audio to be fully edited?
  • What audio format do you want? Is there a specific bit rate?
  • Do you have a budget in mind?
  • Do you have a specific deadline?
  • Do you require a demo?

Professional voiceovers usually charge between £200-£250 per Basic Studio Fee (B.S.F) which is the cost for the first hours recording time. This fee may seem high at first, but you are getting a specific set of skills, which would have been trained for and you will also be hiring a set of equipment that requires maintaining and reinvesting in.

The voiceover will then usually charge what is termed as ‘usage’. This is the fee that is charged on top for actually using the audio – for broadcasting it. These rates differ enormously and this is usually where the negotiations begin. Radio station usage is very low and non negotiable due to Equity’s Independent rate Card Rate, which is universally used in the UK. Web commercial usage can be more and then TV usage is more again. TV usage is calculated with the use of TVRs (the number of times a commercial can be played within the 12 month licensing period www.usefee.tv). For other mediums, the usage is usually a percentage of the B.S.F.

The rule of thumb is “You don’t know what a professional is, until you hire an amateur”. I’m not suggesting that a professional should be overtly highly priced, but invariably you do get what you pay for and a good voiceover with experience and good business acumen will know their worth. They will respond to you in timely manner, be professional about the negotiations and record and supply your job in the time frame and in the style you have requested.

What if the script changes or I don’t like how they have recorded the audio?

This is answered in two ways. If the script has been presented to the voiceover as ready, ‘signed off’. Then the voiceover will be expected to charge for their time again to rerecord any new script changes. If it’s a case of simply not liking how the script has been read, then give good feedback as to what you don’t want and ask the VO to record it once again. The voiceover at this stage may only be as good as your feedback so be clear and precise as to what you are looking for, otherwise you could be on a merry-go-round for a while.

Can I try before I buy?

It’s perfectly acceptable to ask a voiceover for a custom demo of your script. They will usually provide you with a free sample, and from this you can discuss the tone and delivery of that sample before proceeding with the final recording. It should go without saying however, that no part of this audio should be used without the voiceovers consent. This is definite no-no. It has been known for voiceovers to have their work used in this way, so often samples are watermarked so they cannot be used and if they are tampered with and used then the voiceover can take this further legally.

It’s important to remember that under intellectual copyright law, you are only ever renting the voice, as the voiceover always retains the performing rights, unless a buy out is made and the end usage is made very clear to the voiceover.

This covers some of the basic principles when looking to hire a voiceover in the UK. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at katy@maw-media.co.uk.

 

Happy VO Hunting!