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What is Usage and How to Price a Broadcast Project

If you’re new to using Voices (and new to posting jobs on the platform), you may have several questions.

Many of those questions might revolve around the nuisances of broadcast voice over jobs. 

Terms like ‘usage’, ‘broadcast vs non-broadcast’ and ‘union vs non-union’ might make it confusing for you.

In this article, we aim to educate new clients who are wanting to post and properly price out a broadcast project on Voices. That’s why we’ve brought in Sara Hunt, Sales Account Director and Team Lead and Evan Wiebe, Senior Account Manager for Premium Talent to answer those questions and clear things up for you.

What is Usage?

It’s a great question, and one we get asked a lot.

“In layman’s terms, usage is a term that refers to how and where the voice over will be used and seen by audiences,” Hunt explains.

“It’s important to define whether the content is being used broadly or in a more contained setting. Like as a national advertisement or just in business sales meetings.”

Wiebe says the duration of usage varies from a local radio spot lasting a few weeks, to perhaps in-perpetuity usage on their company website.

How Does Broadcast Pricing Work? 

If you’ve just created a client account on Voices, you might be wondering how broadcast pricing works. 

What’s competitive? What’s too low? 

When pricing out broadcast or commercial work, it’s important to know the following:

  1. Usage category

Will this be used as a TV spot for a major network, a digital ad for pre-roll, or a radio spot for Pandora and Spotify?

  1. Usage Market 

If the job is for traditional broadcast like TV or radio, the client needs to know if it will be aired locally, regionally or nationally. If the spot is digital, it’s often for worldwide use but can be restricted to more targeted markets. 

  1. Usage Timeframe 

How long will the spot run for? Common timeframes include 13 weeks or 1 year, but the client should share the specific info pertaining to their campaign. It is not advisable to do any commercial usage in-perpetuity but if this is required be sure you are quoting a fair rate for indefinite usage. 

What Should Voice Over Talent Know About Usage and Broadcast Pricing?

Do you have a hard time coming up with your rates? It can take some time to have a complete personal rate sheet and for those of you that are new to the industry it can be quite confusing. We’re going to explain how it’s done on Voices. Let’s talk about the differences between broadcast, non-broadcast and long form narration.

  • “Renewals! If the usage timeframe (1 year, for example) has passed, and the client wishes to keep using the spot, you should be paid a renewal rate. Voices keeps track of dates and sends renewal reminders whether the job is managed by us or self serve,” Hunts says.
  • “Make sure you’re finding out how many finished deliverables are included in the campaign. Does the client have one :30s script for TV, but also three :06s cutdowns for digital? This should all be factored into your total payment,” Hunt adds.
  • “Using voices.com/rates is essential if you are new to choosing your broadcast rates. Our rate sheet can help take out some of the guess work for you, and you can rest assured that clients are seeing the same rate set that you are,” Wiebe explains.
  • “Check your own emotional response (basically trust your gut!). You’d be surprised how good humans are at picking a number out of the air if we have to, based on feeling. So learn the standard rates, but then also trust your gut and don’t dive into a project knowing that you really should be charging more, that’s not a great place to be,” Wiebe explains.


We’ll start at the top here with commercials. Broadcast rates are calculated per spot regardless of length. The different length options are :15, :30 or :60 seconds.

Pricing for commercials changes based on the market. The market is the audience area.  A local commercial would be for an area contained within one state. It could be across several cities, but all within one state. Once the distribution area crosses state or provincial lines it then qualifies for regional pricing. A national commercial is country-wide.

Station Imaging and PSAs

Station imaging is a commercial for the radio or tv station and a tag would be something like “This message was approved by the federal government”. For these jobs the market doesn’t affect the price, it’s always the same.

A PSA is a public service announcement, such as a commercial for cyber bullying or quitting smoking. These are always budgeted the same regardless of market.

Radio and television commercials follow those same guidelines, but television commercial rates can be higher.

Non-Broadcast and Long Form

Non-broadcast is quoted based on the length of the finished audio. Some examples are B2B advertising, phone systems, documentaries and explainer videos used online.

Anything 2 hours or more is considered long form narration and is budgeted by the time spent in studio rather than the finished audio length. The time in studio is essentially 2 to 4 times the length of the finished audio recording. The first hour is paying 250-500, every hour after is paying another $100, so if there’s 2 hours of finished audio, it’s around 6 hours in the studio, so you would be paid $250-500 and an additional $500 for the other 5 hours.

Time and Totals

Now you probably noticed that the rate sheet is calculated in terms of time. When you see a job posting and the client gives you a word count, you’re going to need to calculate the time it will take for you to read the script.  Most people speak 125 words per minute comfortably. If you’re given a word count instead of the timing, divide the word count by 125 to get the length in minutes.

Quoting Tip

Most of the talent that are hired on Voices quote around the middle to just above the middle of the budget range. Quoting too low can leave the client wondering about your skills and level of experience and quoting too high might not give you that competitive edge.

What Trends/Shifts are Happening with Broadcast Pricing?

Both Wiebe and Hunt are noticing that market rates are shifting.

“Average market rates are starting to shift and catching up to modern usage,” Hunt says. “For example, many digital ad campaigns have stronger budgets than television or radio.”

Wiebe added voice over talent need to understand online advertising pricing, while also trusting their gut and valuing their work.

“For online advertising specifically, because so many ads are targeted specifically to us based on our interests, etc, sometimes you might not even grasp the impact of your work the same way that you might if you voiced a Superbowl ad, for example,” Wiebe says.

“All that to say, it’s important to be vigilant and value your time and your efforts during the entire hiring process to make sure that you are paid what you feel is fair.”

And, remember, the more popular the TV show, the higher the price for the advertiser to air the TV commercial, so they’ll be expecting the best performance from you, the voice actor!

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