Voice over: 10 Key Questions to determine the right price

Voice over: 10 Key Questions to determine the right price

17 March 2024

Deciphering the elements that shape the pricing of a voice-over service in France

10 questions to find the adapted quote for a French Voice Over

French Voice Over Artist and Business Owner for Over 20 Years: Crafting a Universe Where Every Word, Inflection, and Pause Unveils a World of Expression

Navigating the sometimes tumultuous waters of freelancing, armed with my home studio, I am constantly faced with the question: What is the fair price for my service with each new project? This question, far from being personal, resonates among my colleagues and captivates our clients, eager to grasp the real value of the audio recordings we, the voices in the shadow, offer them.

Voice-over pricing is a delicate art, requiring a subtle balance between the appreciation of our own performance, the recognition of our expertise, and the fluctuating expectations of the market and clients. Through this long, very long monologue😅, I share with you my process, both personal and professional, guiding me in establishing a fair price for my services.

The goal? To guide you, whether you are a colleague or a client, through the labyrinth of French voice-over pricing. I reveal the fundamental questions to consider and the criteria to evaluate for defining an appropriate positioning.

Identifying precisely who my client is, is the cornerstone of my professional approach. This initial question ventures well beyond simple information gathering. It plunges me into the complex universe of human and commercial relationships, essential for proposing a tailored, fair, and relevant quote. The spectrum of clients for an independent voice-over artist like me is as vast as it is nuanced, ranging from the cold prospect, barely at the beginning of their discovery of our services, to the recurring client with whom close and fruitful collaboration ties are woven over time.

  • The cold prospect and the warm prospect: These terms refer to new contacts. The "temperature" of our initial relationship is decisive; it demands attentive listening and an ability to quickly evaluate their needs and expectations to transform this first contact into a successful collaboration.
  • The occasional vs. the recurring client: The frequency of collaborations varies greatly. Some clients return occasionally, for specific projects, while others maintain with me a relationship of trust and continuity, constituting a stable part of my activity.
  • The intermediary in the project: Often, I work with production studios, communication agencies, or directors, who act as a bridge between the final advertiser and me. These intermediaries, accustomed to juggling the final clients' demands, represent an important source of work. Their role in guiding and managing the final client is crucial.
  • The final advertiser client: Sometimes, it's directly the advertiser who contacts us without any intermediary. This direct relationship is enriching but requires a clarification of our role and the limits of our expertise.

A concrete example? Let's take the case of an independent insurer contacting me for a voice-over for his telephone waiting system. He might assume that the service naturally includes background music, supposing that the vocal message and the musical accompaniment are inseparable. This situation underscores the importance of asking the right questions from the start and establishing transparent communication to avoid any misunderstanding and ensure that the final project perfectly meets expectations, without unpleasant surprises.

In every interaction, I take the time to understand who my client is, to decode the nuances of our relationship. I gather information, conduct research, to best grasp their universe, their expectations, and evaluate if we are in sync to co-create together. This initial approach, both methodical and intuitive, is crucial. It allows me to adjust my offer, not only based on the notoriety of the final advertiser and their communication plan but also respecting the dynamics specific to each type of collaboration. In short, knowing my client is opening the way to a harmonious and satisfying project for all parties involved.

The question of "for what" is essential to establish a fair quote. It delves into the heart of the project to grasp its essence, ambitions, and specificities. Understanding the final purpose of the voice-over service allows me to tailor my offer to the exact measure of the client's needs. Here is how I explore this question in function of the various applications of voice-over and the impact of the broadcasting medium on pricing.

Advertising

  • Radio and Television: The scope of the broadcast (local, regional, national, or international) directly influences the rate. The voice-over here serves to captivate the audience and promote products or services, necessitating pricing adapted to the audience's magnitude.
  • Targeted Television Advertising: This format offers precise audience targeting, increasing campaign effectiveness. Rates take into account the precise targeting and potential return on investment.
  • Internet and Streaming: Often targeting a specific, sometimes international, audience, these mediums demand a pricing strategy adapted to their global reach.

Institutional Content

  • Corporate Videos and Films: Present the values, objectives, or products of an organization, with pricing based on duration and required specialization.

Educational

  • E-Learning: The voice-over guides and educates, with rates calculated per word to reflect the content's length and complexity.

Culture and Leisure

  • Audio Guides and Video Games: Enrich cultural or recreational experiences, with pricing taking into account duration, complexity, and the need to adapt to specific characters or contexts.

Communication and Marketing

  • Station Imaging and Jingles: Create a sound identity for media or commercial spaces, necessitating a distinctive voice and close collaboration with production studios.

Services and Information

  • Telephone Waiting and IVR: Provide practical information to callers, with pricing based on the number of messages and their length.

Literature and Narration

  • Audio Books: Transform texts into immersive auditory experiences, with pricing reflecting the recording duration and the work's complexity.

Each category has its specificities influencing the quote. Establishing a fair quote, therefore, depends on a deep understanding of each project's specific needs, taking into account the type of content, the scope of broadcast, and the complexity of production. Open and detailed communication with the client is crucial to evaluate these factors and provide a tailored and valued service.

The location of the broadcast, or "where" the project will be shared, plays a crucial role in establishing my quote for a voice-over service. This dimension significantly impacts both the pricing strategy and the project's scope itself. Here is how I consider the broadcast zone when elaborating a quote:

Local Broadcast

  • Limited Impact: Projects intended for a local audience, such as an advertisement for a local business or an intervention on a community radio, reach a limited audience. This more intimate setting may allow for a reduction in the rate while maintaining a high quality of service.

Regional Broadcast

  • Wider Coverage: For a campaign extending across an entire region, the quote reflects this expanded audience. The complexity and scope of the message are taken into account to adjust the rate.

National Broadcast

  • Significant Reach: Projects with national distribution, like advertisements for major brands or large-scale campaigns, require thorough consideration for pricing. National exposure increases the value of the service due to the audience's size and the potential impact on a brand or product's perception.

International Broadcast

  • Global Visibility: Projects intended for an international audience demand special attention in terms of pricing. They may require linguistic or cultural adaptations and justify an increase in the quote due to the audience's diversity and the project's increased complexity.

Why is Localization so Determining?

  • Potential Audience: The size and diversity of the audience directly influence the perceived value of the voice-over service. The wider the broadcast, the more significant the impact.
  • Brand Stakes: An extended broadcast is often linked to projects of importance for the client, necessitating a proportional investment in the quality of the voice-over.

Defining the precise broadcast zone is essential for establishing a fair and adapted quote. This allows me to calibrate the offer according to the project's real scope, thus ensuring fair pricing that respects both the value provided by the voice-over service and the client's expectations.

The dimension of a voice-over project is not measured solely in terms of duration or script volume, but also through the project's overall scope, including the diversity of contents, the number of envisaged broadcasting supports, and the expected reach. Understanding the overall size of the project helps me adjust my quote to faithfully reflect the work to be provided.

Complexity and Variety

  • Content Diversity: A project may involve different forms of content, such as advertising spots, narrations for explanatory videos, and elements for e-learnings. Each type requires a specific approach in terms of tone, style, and sometimes recording technique.
  • Number of Supports: Broadcasting across multiple platforms (radio, television, Internet, social networks) multiplies the formats and technical specifications required, increasing the project's complexity.

Script Volume

  • Script Length: The amount of text to be recorded is a direct factor in determining the time required for recording and post-production. A longer script means more studio time, more touch-ups, and potentially, more recording sessions.

Expected Reach

  • Project Impact: Large-scale projects, aiming to reach a wide audience or to have a significant impact on a brand's image, may justify a higher pricing. The responsibility linked to the impact of my voice on the project's success is taken into account.

How Do I Evaluate a Project's Size?

To assess a project's size, I start by requesting a detailed description of the project, including its objectives, target audiences, and envisaged broadcasting channels. I also ask for the complete script or, failing that, an estimation of the number of words or minutes of recording required. This information allows me to make a preliminary estimation of the time and resources needed.

I also consider the preparation time required, especially to familiarize myself with the tone, style, and content context, as well as for any necessary research on pronunciation or jargon specific to the subject.

A Concrete Example

Let's take the example of a project comprising a series of educational videos for a company. The client wishes to broadcast these videos not only on its website but also during seminars and internal training. The project's size thus extends beyond the simple length of the script, involving consideration for the adaptability of content to different contexts, the consistency between various elements, and engaging the target audience across different formats.

In conclusion, evaluating a project's size allows me to propose a quote that not only ensures fair remuneration for the work performed but also reflects the added value of my service to the entire project. This approach guarantees a transparent and satisfying collaboration for all parties involved, based on a mutual understanding of the project's stakes.

The duration of the usage rights assignment is a crucial element in the pricing of a voice-over service. It determines how long the client is allowed to use the recording for their project. This aspect varies considerably depending on the type of project and has a significant influence on the final quote.

Unlimited Use for Certain Projects

For a vast majority of projects, such as institutional videos, audio guides, audio books, e-learning courses, and telephone waiting systems, the norm is to grant a usage rights assignment without time limitation. This means that, once the recording is made and payment is completed, the client can exploit these recordings indefinitely, without temporal restrictions, nor the need for rights renewal. This approach reflects the nature of these projects, often intended for long-term use without the need for frequent renewal.

Advertisements: A Specific Approach

  • Clear Definition of Conditions: For advertisements, whether on the internet, television, radio, or any other medium, the rights assignment must be carefully specified. The duration of the voice-over's use in the advertising context directly influences the proposed rate, due to the potentially greater impact and increased visibility.
  • Adaptation to Need: I offer flexible pricing options, tailored to the specific duration of the advertising campaign. Whether the client desires a short-term broadcast, such as a few months, or a longer duration, each case is evaluated to ensure a fair offer and compliance with market standards.

Importance of Communication and Transparency

  • Clear Agreements: It's essential to discuss the expectations regarding the duration of the usage rights assignment from the project's outset. This ensures that the client understands the conditions and any potential limitations and contributes to creating a mutually satisfying agreement.
  • Contracts: Drafting a contract specifying clearly the duration of the rights assignment, the covered territories, and any other relevant detail is a standard practice to avoid ambiguities and protect the rights of all parties involved.

Managing usage rights is a fundamental aspect of voice-over pricing, requiring particular attention for each project. By offering a rights assignment tailored to the nature and specific needs of each project, I ensure to provide my clients with a custom solution, balanced between respecting copyright and meeting the project's requirements.

Considering the artistic constraints is essential for determining the rate of a voice-over service. These constraints can vary considerably from one project to another, influencing the preparation time, execution, and, consequently, the overall cost of the service.

Script Complexity

  • Diversity of Roles: Playing multiple characters in a single project requires a high level of versatility and creativity. This involves finding the right tone and style for each character while maintaining vocal consistency throughout the recording.
  • Technical Terms and Foreign Words: Scripts containing specific jargon or foreign terms require additional preparation to ensure correct pronunciation and proper interpretation.

Personal Example: "Perle du Nord"

To illustrate concretely the impact of artistic constraints on pricing, let's take the example of the "Perle du Nord" project. In this video project, I was brought to create and interpret the voice of four distinct characters of endives, each with its own personality, in addition to the main narration. This included:

  • A narrator guiding the story.
  • Young endive sprouts with childlike voices.
  • A red endive with a rock and roll voice.
  • A white endive with an innocent and sweet voice.
  • The Barbucine, characterized by a star's voice.

This diversity of roles in a single project significantly increased the preparation and recording time, necessitating a thorough vocal exploration for each character. The complexity and creativity required to convincingly bring these characters to life justified a higher standard rate.

Impact on the Rate

The need to adapt to various artistic constraints, such as interpreting multiple characters with specific vocal demands, justifies a reevaluation of the initial quote. This type of project, demanding an extensive range of skills and significant creative engagement,

The duration of the rights usage assignment is a crucial element in pricing a voice-over service. It determines how long the client is allowed to use the recording for their project. This aspect varies significantly depending on the project type and has a significant influence on the final quote.

Unlimited Use for Certain Projects

For a majority of projects, such as corporate videos, audio guides, audiobooks, e-learning courses, and telephone waiting systems, the norm is to grant a rights usage assignment without a time limit. This means that, once the recording is made and the payment is executed, the client can use these recordings indefinitely, without temporal restrictions or the need to renew the rights. This approach reflects the nature of these projects, often intended for long-term use without the need for frequent renewal.

Advertisements: A Specific Approach

  • Clear Definition of Terms: For advertisements, whether on the internet, television, radio, or any other medium, the rights assignment must be specified carefully. The duration of the voice-over usage in advertising directly influences the rate offered, due to the potentially greater impact and increased visibility.
  • Adaptation to Need: I offer flexible pricing options, adapted to the specific duration of the advertising campaign. Whether the client desires a short-term broadcast, such as a few months, or a longer one, each case is evaluated to guarantee a fair offer and comply with market standards.

Importance of Communication and Transparency

  • Clear Agreements: It is essential to discuss openly the expectations regarding the duration of the rights usage assignment from the start of the project. This ensures that the client understands the conditions and any possible limitations, contributing to the creation of a mutually satisfactory agreement.
  • Contracts: Drafting a contract that clearly specifies the duration of the rights assignment, the covered territories, and any other relevant detail is standard practice to avoid ambiguities and protect the rights of all parties involved.

Managing usage rights is a fundamental aspect of voice-over pricing, requiring particular attention for each project. By offering a rights assignment adapted to the nature and specific needs of each project, I ensure to provide my clients with a customized solution, balanced between copyright respect and project requirements satisfaction.

Taking into account artistic constraints is essential to determine the rate for a voice-over service. These constraints can vary significantly from one project to another, influencing preparation time, execution, and, consequently, the overall cost of the service.

Script Complexity

  • Diversity of Roles: Portraying several characters in the same project demands a high level of versatility and creativity. This involves finding the right tone and style for each character while maintaining vocal consistency throughout the recording.
  • Technical Terms and Foreign Words: Scripts containing specific jargon or foreign terms require additional preparation to ensure correct pronunciation and appropriate interpretation.

Personal Example: "Northern Pearl"

To concretely illustrate the impact of artistic constraints on pricing, let's take the example of the "Northern Pearl" project. In this video project, I was tasked with creating and performing the voice of four distinct chicory characters, each with their own personality, in addition to the main narration. This included:

  • A narrator guiding the story.
  • Young chicory shoots with childlike voices.
  • A red chicory with a rock and roll voice.
  • A white chicory with an innocent and sweet voice.
  • The Barbucine, characterized by a star's voice.

This diversity of roles in a single project significantly increased preparation and recording time, requiring in-depth vocal exploration for each character. The complexity and creativity required to convincingly bring these characters to life justified a surcharge on the standard rate.

Impact on Rate

The need to adapt to various artistic constraints, such as performing multiple characters with specific vocal requirements, justifies a reevaluation of the initial quote. This type of project, demanding a wide range of skills and significant creative engagement, reflects the added value brought by the voice-over artist and must be recognized in the pricing.

The completion timelines, corresponding to the time allocated to successfully complete a voice-over project, are a critical element of any quote. They reflect not only the urgency of the client's need but also the ability to organize and effectively prioritize my own commitments. Here is how I approach the issue of timelines when developing my quotes.

Short or Urgent Deadlines

  • Responsiveness Required: When a client requires a quick delivery, often in response to urgent needs or sudden opportunities, this may necessitate a reorganization of my schedule. This could mean prioritizing their project over others, working overtime, or even mobilizing additional resources to meet the deadline.
  • Rate Surcharge: These constraints justify a surcharge on the standard rate. This increase not only reflects the value of the service rendered within a restricted time frame but also the extra effort required to ensure quality under tight deadlines.

Standard Deadlines

For projects with standard completion timelines, which offer enough time for preparation, recording, and post-production, the applied rate remains the base rate, in line with the usual industry standards. These ideal conditions allow for a balanced workload management and the delivery of a high-quality final product.

Long-Term Projects

Some projects span over a longer period, allowing for a seamless integration into the schedule and closer collaboration with the client to refine the outcome. While these extended timelines offer greater flexibility, they imply a continuous commitment that may adjust the rate to reflect this prolonged availability.

Communication and Clarity

It is essential to discuss timelines clearly at the start of the collaboration. This approach ensures that the schedule expectations are well understood and accepted by all parties, thus avoiding misunderstandings and ensuring mutual satisfaction.

The completion timelines are a key factor in establishing a quote for a voice-over service. By considering the project's urgency and adjusting the rate accordingly, I ensure to provide a service that not only meets my clients' expectations for quality and professionalism but also the specific temporal requirements of each project. This approach helps maintain a trustworthy relationship and fruitful collaboration with my clients, respecting both their needs and my capacity to organize.

The recording conditions are a key factor in defining the quote for a voice-over service, reflecting not only personal preferences but also the specific needs of the project.

Home Studio Recording

My home studio, equipped with state-of-the-art gear, is where I carry out most of my recordings. This setup allows me to guarantee responsiveness and availability, essential elements to effectively meet my clients' demands. Daily collaboration with my sound engineer enriches the quality and finesse of each project.

Professional Studio Recording

Although I prefer working from my home studio to maximize my responsiveness, there are times when agents or recording studios require my presence in an external studio. While this option takes me out of my usual environment and requires more complex organization, it offers the opportunity to collaborate in person with the production teams and the client, adding a valuable dimension to the creation. In these cases, the costs related to studio rental and the sound engineer are generally managed by the agent or the production studio.

Remote Directed Sessions: My Preference

  • Efficiency and Eco-responsibility: Remote directed sessions, through tools such as Source-Connect, SessionLink PRO, or NEXUS, are my preferred mode. They allow real-time interaction with the client or the artistic director, without the need for travel, aligning efficiency with environmental responsibility.
  • Global Reach: This method allows me to work with clients worldwide, fostering close collaboration and instant adjustments. The main constraint lies in managing time zones, requiring rigorous organization to suit all parties.

Pricing of Remote Directed Sessions

Given the need to block a specific time slot and, sometimes, the required presence of my sound engineer, I charge these sessions based on the time spent. The base rate for one hour of directed work is €250, to which €100 is added if the presence of my sound engineer is necessary, plus the cession of the rights to use the recording.

The raw track of the session is sent directly to the client's agent or production studio. In case post-production is necessary, an additional quote is proposed to cover this additional work.

Flexibility in recording conditions is essential to meet the diverse needs of my clients while preserving the quality and integrity of my work. By clarifying the modalities and associated costs at the start of the project, I ensure a transparent and successful collaboration, where each party has a clear understanding of expectations and commitments.

Considering specific technical needs is essential to developing an accurate quote for a voice-over service. These needs vary greatly from one project to another and directly influence the recording process, post-production, and thus pricing.

Timecode Synchronization

Projects requiring precise synchronization with the visual necessitate extra effort and technical expertise, justifying an adjustment of the rate to reflect the complexity of the work.

File Splitting

The meticulous preparation and organization of audio files according to the client's specifications take additional time, thus influencing the proposed quote.

Music and Sound Effects

The integration of background music or sound effects requires a mastery of audio mixing to create a coherent whole, which is taken into account in the quote evaluation.

Audio Processing and Cleaning

The delivery of cleaned, adjusted, and ready-to-use audio files involves a rigorous editing phase, requiring time and expertise, and therefore should be appropriately remunerated.

Encoding and Technical Standards

Adapting audio files to meet the technical specifications of various broadcasting channels is essential to ensure sound quality across all mediums, and is included in the quote.

Collaboration with a Sound Engineer

My close collaboration with a sound engineer enriches each project with technical expertise, ensuring high quality and satisfying the most demanding clients.

Specific Approach Depending on the Client

  • For Recording Studios: I focus on what I do best: being a voice-over actress. For these clients, I do not proceed with any cleaning of the audio tracks, even leaving clicks and background noises. This allows the studio to bring its personal touch and the specific color of its audio.
  • For Agencies, E-Learning Companies, or Direct Clients: The service extends beyond a "simple" voice-over to embrace broader roles, such as audiovisual project management. In these cases, I can charge for additional services related to other professions involved in the production process, thus reflecting the extent of my involvement and the added value I provide.

Specific technical needs are a cornerstone of the pricing for a voice-over service. By accurately determining these needs at the start of the project and adjusting the quote accordingly, I ensure to provide a service that meets the technical requirements and expectations of the client, while guaranteeing a successful collaboration and mutual satisfaction. This approach, flexible and adapted to the context of each client, allows establishing a clear and shared foundation for each project.

The management of corrections and modifications is a crucial aspect in the creation process of a voice-over project. It directly impacts pricing, planning, and client satisfaction level. Here is how I address this essential issue.

Correction Policy

  • Minor Corrections: For minor corrections or adjustments needed after the initial listening, I am generally willing to carry them out without additional charges, within reason. This is part of my commitment to ensuring total client satisfaction and the quality of the final project.
  • Major Changes: If the modifications requested result from a change in the script or artistic direction after the initial recording, additional fees may be applied. This reflects the time and effort needed to meet these new requirements.

Collaboration and Flexibility

The key to a successful collaboration lies in flexibility and open communication. I strive to understand the client's needs from the start to minimize the need for major modifications downstream.

When working with recording studios, I rely on their expertise for managing minor audio retouches, allowing each party to focus on their area of expertise.

Audiovisual Project Director

For clients requiring complete project management, including post-production, music, and other elements, I take charge of coordinating modifications within the production team. This may include managing retouches, monitoring client feedback, and ensuring delivery conforms to initial expectations.

Pricing of Modifications

It is crucial to clearly define terms related to corrections and modifications at the start of the project. This includes the number of revisions included in the initial quote and the cost of additional modifications.

The management of corrections and modifications is a fundamental element of the voice-over creation process, impacting client satisfaction and project success. By adopting a flexible, communicative approach, and establishing clear conditions from the start, I ensure a smooth and efficient collaboration, leading to a high-quality final product that perfectly meets the client's needs. This strategy contributes to building trust and fostering long-term relationships with my clients.

Navigating the world of voice-over involves embracing a myriad of challenges and opportunities unique to each project. Through this detailed guide, I've shared with you the main pillars on which I rely to establish a fair and accurate quote, reflecting both the quality of the service and the complexity of the work provided. From understanding the specific needs of the client to managing corrections and modifications, every aspect is crucial to guarantee a fruitful and satisfying collaboration.

The Value of Transparent Collaboration

One of the most valuable lessons from my 20 years of experience as a voice-over artist and business owner is the importance of communication and transparency with my clients. Whether it's clarifying expectations from the beginning, adapting to specific technical needs, or managing modifications flexibly, each step is an opportunity to strengthen trust and ensure that the final result exceeds expectations.

Beyond the Voice

My role is not limited to that of a voice-over artist; it extends to that of a creative partner and audiovisual project director when the project demands it. This ability to adapt and offer an extended range of services adds invaluable value to each project, allowing not only to meet immediate needs but also to contribute to the client's overall vision.

Commitment to Excellence

Every project is a new adventure, a creative journey that we undertake together, client and provider. My commitment to excellence, attention to detail, and passion for voice-over are the driving forces that push me to offer the best of myself, project after project.

Towards New Collaborations

As we turn the page on this guide, I hope to have illuminated the various facets of voice-over pricing and highlighted the importance of a collaboration based on mutual respect and shared understanding. I look forward to the new stories we will tell together, armed with my voice, expertise, and passion for bringing your projects to life.

To Go Further

To deepen your understanding of the nuances of voice-over pricing and further explore standard practices within the industry, here are a selection of valuable resources:

  1. My Voice Over Rate Card: A complete guide offering welcome transparency on the financial aspects of this profession.

  2. Pierre Maubouché - Voice Over Rates: Learn how the voice-over actor, casting director, and coach establishes his rates for different types of projects.

  3. Thomas Dormoy - Blog: How much does a voice-over cost?: A wealth of information offered by my colleague, male voice Thomas, who is also a long-time client with his voice-over agent hat.

  4. GVAA Rate Guide: This rate guide is an essential reference for voice-over industry actors in the United States, offering pricing standards for a wide range of projects.

  5. VPS-ASP Rates 2023: Explore the list of recommended rates by the Swiss speakers' association, offering a European perspective on pricing practices in the voice-over field.

  6. Lesvoix.fr: "Association of voice-over artists interpreters" that specifies the principles of remuneration in intermittent show business, salary for advertising, dubbing, Adami rights, and sung voices.

These resources are essential for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with industry standards, whether you're a voice-over professional looking to adjust your rates, or a client eager to better understand the costs associated with voice-over services. They also provide a framework for establishing fair and balanced quotes, ensuring fair remuneration for artists while respecting clients' budgets.

By informing yourself through these resources, you'll be better equipped to navigate the complex and fascinating world of voice-over, whether as a service provider or as a client looking for the perfect voice to bring your project to life.