You do literally everything where performance and production are concerned, but do your fees reflect that?

As a career voice talent working from either a professional grade home recording studio or a recording facility in a business environment, you wear many hats, some of which are more obvious than others.
Here’s a list of the different roles and responsibilities that you have working on your own as a professional voice-over talent:

  1. You have a wonderful, unique voice. An instrument that sets you apart and a keen interest in using it to your full advantage, including, keeping yourself (and your voice) healthy. In this capacity, you are a performer.
  2. You are responsible for finding work for yourself, whether it be through the auditioning process, networking, or marketing efforts.
  3. You are a business person and oversee all of the daily operations and marketing of your voice-over business.
  4. You are a project manager and organize your recording and payment schedules, communicating with your clients directly to ensure success.
  5. You are a consultant. Many clients need extra attention and advice, something that you give on a regular basis when meeting their needs and becoming a part of their vision.
  6. As a performer, you need to check the script for any inaccuracies, phrasing, plan your interpretation, warm up your voice, and rehearse the script before recording.
  7. You are a recording engineer responsible for setting up a session and recording the voice-over.
  8. You are an editor. Once the voice-over has been recorded, you edit out any mistakes, unwanted breaths, and create a seamless recording.
  9. You are a mixing and mastering engineer. Adding sound effects, synching up music tracks, and evening out the sound levels is an art form, a specialty service by most accounts.
  10. You are the customer service and fulfillment department. Once the work is done, you deliver the final product to the clients specifications, including formatting files appropriately. You might also need to make revisions or re-record a script.

At the end of the day, you’ve got quite the job description and a full plate to look forward to on a regular basis. These services, if performed by several people at a recording studio, a talent agency, or a creative advertising firm would all have premium charges applied to them. As a voice talent working for yourself wearing all of these hats, you might forget that the service you provide is equal to several different jobs performed by many people who are all being paid for each service they provide.

This brings us to the moment of truth… are you covering all of your costs when you record for a client? Just because you are an entrepreneur (you own and run your own business) doesn’t mean that your work is any less valuable because the client is only paying one person for the work. Stop to think if you are being paid sufficiently and making a profit or if you are losing money, helping to fund other peoples projects.

P.S. Wow, what a response we’ve received from this posting! After you’ve had a chance to read through the comments, pop by our May 3rd post about our Job Posting Approval Guidelines.
Let’s keep the momentum going 🙂

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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. Very true! As an industry let’s ensure we protect our lively hood and remember any short term gains from price slashing are devaluing what we do.
    In most countries there are National standards and rates let’s be competitive in line with these rates and standards. Our customers often speak of “ongoing work”, until you secure this “ongoing work” stay true to your National rates.
    Customers should be educated to our true worth and understand if they pay peanuts they will get monkeys.

  2. Well of course all of this is true and well stated Stephanie, the thing is, “show biz” is the only industry I can think of where folk are happy to pay to be involved. student performers (and technical support – sound, LX etc) hoping for their first gig in real theatre.
    For VO on the internet, anyone, and it seems many, are “having a go” ……. many are not ready for public broadcast it must be said, so the market is awash with numbers….the upshot of this insane competition is that market forces apply here, as anywhere, prices fall as we are offered a pittance for our work.
    I recently saw a gig for a 2 hr finished read at $250 USD !! Sadly, 17 talents bid for the work and someone did it, we presume… $1 an hour ??!!, even illegal workers in California can hope for more (can’t they ??)
    As an Australian working, well, effectively, “abroad”, I must vary
    and adopt delivery and dialect outside my normal day to day range although living and working in US,
    Europe, & UK has been useful.
    Can we show and tell now ??
    What do we charge for, say, a dry read of straightforward car yard blurb for local TV ? (anyone who thinks you need to “believe” in the product to sell just ain’t gonna make it) One of the grand masters of British theatre said it best, and to paraphrase, … one need not “act”, but would have the world at their feet if only they could fake sincerity.
    I’ll start the bidding at $50 USD /min …. this is common but I fear
    still well short of the real value.
    Pleased to hear any thoughts and your rates………maybe through organisation, the strength in numbers can work for, not against us !!

  3. Stephanie,
    Well said, and this is why I don’t both auditioning for projects that pay less than what I’m willing to work for. No point in having the work and not being happy to have it.
    As for Martyn’s question about dry reads. My starting rate for a TV spot for a local retailer is $150 US, for a limited run.

  4. Hi I’ve read your comments. Let me remind all of us that we are artists. Our final masterpiece will hopefully make an advertiser a lot of money. I know that I have purchased over $3,000 dollars worth of studio equipment, and have yet to break even yet. I used to be a radio announcer for several years, and I am sad to say that we are not paid as artists. Our voices do not come cheap. I wonder what that $250.00/2hr. job sounded like? It’s a shame that everyone wants something for nothing, and the truth is they’ll usually find it. I have paid to much for my career including a degree in broadcast journalism, and equipment to charge pennies. I would hope that everyone who is a professional would not lower their prices. You get what you pay for. Thanks for letting me vent Shawna

  5. Hi Martyn,
    Thank you for your feedback and comments.
    I’m happy to relay that the job you referred to was not posted at InteractiveVoices, but at another site.
    We have set budget ranges that start at USD$100-$250 and simply refer clients to use our search engine if they can’t meet our minimum requirements (both financially and ethically).
    One of your fellow colleagues suggested that there be a minimum quote threshold which would prevent talent from quoting below the budget range.
    How would it work?
    The clients budget range is between $250-$500. When a talent submits their quote for less than $250, the system would correct the quote to display $250.
    In theory, this would let talent be judged equally by their voices and enable them to receive a respectable compensation for the job.
    Would this interest you, and do you believe that it would minimize undercutting?

  6. Good. Let’s start by raising the minimum bid clients can ask for in their ads. I’ve been watching the fees drift lower and lower. The trend is down. Interactive Voices is in a position to educate their clients. Otherwise, we’ll wind up being asked to record whole books for $75.

  7. Stephanie,
    Interest me !!?? It inspires me !!
    I didn’t realise that you had criteria for clients, how refreshing.
    You were correct in mentioning the $250/2hr job was with another site who shall remain nameless save to mention that raising the issue of fair pay on their blog went missing (!) and several requests for explaination remain unanswered.
    (Oh, as an explaination of mathematical prowess, a finished 2 hrs probably takes twice that with edits and coffee etc…sitting at the desk time, you do need to factor it in.)
    I stated that as the talent paid the rent, not the client, (no fees or commissions) then we really ought to have a say in standards and practice.
    As a youngster, I was “burned” by the whole Agent thing that went on in Australia (and elsewhere?) in the 70’s & 80’s ….seems there were 2 sorts, the 10-15% commission mob who found you work and retained a fee for the service (no problem with that idea) and the vast swag of others who seemes to lure the young and impressionable, charging extortionate rates for a poor photo shoot and providing no follow up and certainly no work. Some even used the photo shoot and the power they commanded by “actually working IN the industry” to their advantage with many pretty things to exploit in the process. It was an evil time and I hope gone forever in the civilised world.
    Solidarnoshc – it worked before !

  8. My minimum bid for a :30 dry is $100.
    I never bid lower and I’m sure it’s cost me many jobs.
    I’m also happy to see IV has some standards. The “other site” has folks practically doing jobs for free just to get jobs.
    When I posted about that and also asked why we can’t respond to blog posts anymore I was shut down.

  9. I’ve made a few related posts since this one that I think you’d all be interested in.
    Check out the most recent one about our job posting approval guidelines.


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