How Much Do Voice Actors Make?
What a great question! “How much do voice actors make?” Let’s answer that for you. It really depends on the message you’re needing to get across. It’s really not a simple answer. It depends on the work, project size, their experience, and other components. Voice actors who are more reputable or have more “screen time” might demand a higher price. Some do it as a hobby and charge bare bones pricing. The bulk majority of voice actors fall in the middle of this range. Let’s really answer this question “How much do voice actors make?” as we go through this article together. We’ll try to help you navigate your way through the endless sea of voice actor and voiceover voices talent that are out there.
Voice talent income varies per person. Lots of people starting out are charging some really super small amounts, and that can set a bad precedent when you find that you want some of the “bigger guns” and they’re charging way more than the entry level person. Lots of investments have been made by voice talent into their equipment, studio environment, demo production, training, coaching, marketing, branding, and so forth – so the range can really vary.
How Much Do Voice Actors Make?
Let’s cut to the quick. There are a lot of factors that go into this! There’s reach, duration, perpetuity, pickups, extent, etc.. Let’s cover these five in detail.
Reach. The target market, or markets. Duration. How long will it be broadcast for. Perpetuity. Is this a full buyout, meaning, will you own all the future rights to the voice recording and don’t have to pay any royalties to the voice talent? Pickups. Do you expect there to be pickups or additions in the future that are not part of the original quote? Extent. How big is the project? Is it E-Learning? Something lengthy? Or a short tag that’s going all over the planet?
There’s a lot that goes into pricing a voice talent, so let’s explore that.
First, take into account the cost due to the REACH. Is this a local non-broadcast tradeshow event? Something playing OFF the screens? Or is it a web video? Or is it not only a web video on your home page, but also on social media? Or is it on radio? Local radio? Regional radio? Statewide? Or perhaps its on TV? If so, is it on multiple markets? Where will the entire broadcast cover? Is it national? International? The reach determines part of the cost, and actually a large part, because the more people you’re reaching, the higher the cost of the voiceover.
Secondly, lets look at the DURATION. I don’t mean the length of the voiceover as in word count (which we’ll look at later) – but rather the duration that it will be broadcast. This specifically pertains to ads that air over radio and TV, for example. How long will they be airing? 3 months? 6 months? A year? The duration determines the percentage of people that might hear or see the ad, which increases the cost for the voice talent.
Thirdly, let’s examine PERPETUITY. Will you own the rights to this? Can you broadcast it for 6 months on the air, and then 3 years later, come back and do the same thing with the same voiceover? If you ask for a qutoe in perpetuity, that means that you’re asking to buyout the full rights to the voiceover, so the voice talent doesn’t really have a right to come back and say “Hey, you’re using my voice again!” To some people, this is important because they may run cyclical ads that pop up at various intervals, and they need to not worry about payouts of royalties each time a voice talent’s voice is used from an original recording. Full buyouts in perpetuity are assumed by a lot of clients, but unless it’s expressly stated, the client doesn’t own the voiceover’s recordings indefinitely: that needs to be expressly indicated in any contract between client and voice talent, because that voiceover was recorded for that precise script for that precise duration, not to be used ad infinitum without the voice talent’s permission. Perpetuity and buyouts are huge points to keep in mind when asking “How much does a voice talent cost?”
Fourthly, let’s look at PICKUPS. Is this a project where the script is 85% there, but that changes are expected in the future? Will the client have to go back in sometime down the road and record additional material for the same project, but with a revised script? Will they be expected to match the original sound recording’s audio spectrum and dynamics, which can change over time due to vocal tone, equipment, recording space, and software? Pickups are portions of the script that are expected to be recorded at a later date and can affect the price.
Fifthly, consider EXTENT when asking “How much does a voice talent cost?” The extent of the project can wildly change the price. Word count is huge for an E-Learning project because voice talent are usually paid a per finished minute rate. The longer your project, such as E-Learning, or audiobooks (at a per-finished-hour rate), the more your costs go up.
How Much Do Voice Actors Make – Considerations
When you think about “how much do voice actors make”, there are other considerations as well. A voiceover voice actor’s main equipment is their voice. It’s fragile, and can’t be utilized all day long, throughin and throughout. It needs breaks and rest. Even for those voiceover voices and voice actors who have been recording for a career for many years, it’s difficult for them to sustain up to 3 or even 4 hours a day recording. That’s a stretch of 36000 words! It takes a while to record. Aside from actual jobs, many voice actors and voiceover voices are also auditioning, back and forth in their studio all day long, recording multiple kinds of projects all day long. So that also takes a toll on the voice. How I personally like to look at it is I take my total income and divide it by the number of auditions I’ve done. That gives me a healthy perspective of being paid “per audition” – and that makes it worth it to me to keep auditioning.
How Much Do Voice Actors Make – Essentials
How much do voice actors make? Again, it depends, but they are paid per project. Earnings can vary, based on the factors described above. They can go from very small, with many voice actors and voiceover voices charging a minimum, to very, very large for a global reach project, or even a national TV commercial for a major brand. Also, lengthy projects can pay a voice actor quite a bit, such as E-Learning. To see a range of rates that voice actors get paid, please visit the GVAA (Global Voice Acting Academy) Rate Guide at https://www.globalvoiceacademy.com/gvaa-rate-guide-2/. It’s very comprehensive, covering all types of voiceover voices and voice actor projects that require pay. Word Count can really make a project pay more, such as E-Learning projects…the more words you have to say, the longer it will take to record. AND – the more complex the narration, such as medical or scientific narration with complex words, the more a voice actor is generally expected to be paid.
Voice Actors and voiceover voices need to make sure they treat their voice pursuits as a business, not as a hobby. They also need not be afraid to charge the rates that they are worthy of. Some voice talent have minimums. Others don’t. But across the board, what one voice actor is paid for a project is what another voice actor is generally supposed to be paid. There may be more paid to a more “name” voice actor, but ultimately the rate is the guide for proper payment. Voice actors generally do have a minimum amount because ultimately, they have the same setup, warmup, script reading, recording, post-processing, file splitting, sending, etc., that someone of a much larger project will have to do. All of that takes time to do. Additionally, many voice actors and voiceover voices have memberships that they pay an annual premium to belong to, for training, coaching, and more. Voice talent usually charge what they are worth, and what their services demand. You shouldn’t need to look to a substandard site like Fiverr just to keep within your budget, or to ensure that you don’t “break the bank.” As with most things, “you get what you pay for.” If you want to pay $35 for a voice actor, then you’re going to get a $35 value. Think of Apple’s premiums on its high-end, near-luxury projects. They are priced accordingly, because they are worth the price.
Voice Actors are Professionals
Many voice actors are in the industry as a hobby, this is true. But a vast number of them, this is their bread and butter. They are heard all over the world, or all over the nation, or all over the local region. They are usually known. And as a professional in their field, they as a voice actor demand a rate commensurate with their experience, their training, their value. They keep it honest and they provide a tangible service worthy of their time and training, and lend their voice to bring your script to life. It’s an awesome service that they provide, lifting words off the page and carrying your message to your listeners’ ears. A lot of voice actors and voiceover voices have a rate sheet that helps them determine what they should charge, and it’s ok to ask for this of any voice actor.
How Much Do Voice Actors Make? – Average Incomes Vary
Voice actors make an average salary of $31,400 a year. Beginners can expect to earn roughly $18,390 annually, while a seasoned professional may earn upwards of $90,000 a year. Many professional and top-tier voice actors make a 6 figure income. The rate can vary wildly from month to month, as project frequency varies…and there are also seasons where voiceover work seems to be more prominent for some voice actors and voiceover voices, due to the genre of voiceovers that they prefer, such as TV & Radio, or E-Learning. Some are fairly inconsistent, and some are fairly consistent. There are peaks and valleys, and another factor that supersedes all of this is how much the particular voice actor or voiceover voice is willing to do their own marketing and how much they reach out to bring in new clients for themselves. You yourself may have been contacted out of the blue by a new voice actor seeking to lend their voice to your roster.
How Much Do Voice Actors Make? – Other Considerations to take into account
“How much do voice actors make?” is also a question that is answered with some additional questions. Is the voice actor union? Are they non-union? How experienced are they? How many auditions do they submit? Are they represented by an agency? And, as mentioned before, how well do they market themselves?
Unions in the US exist under SAG AFTRA. Non-Union voice talent can market themselves very well and succeed if they know how to be their own boss and run their own business. The more experienced they are, the more they can charge great rates for voiceovers. But it all adds up. Some voice actors have great voices, but that’s where it stops. It’s a numbers game. Voice actors audition and audition and audition across multiple venues and sites (typically, the voiceover marketplaces online) to get their “product” out there. But this all contributes to experience. Are they experienced? Are they “going places?” Are they award-winning? Or is it just a hobby for them? They may be skilled, but many voice actors need much more than a good voice to make it. They need to have a specialized genre of voice work chosen so that they can narrow their focus. They also need to have some business acumen to be able to run an ecosystem for themselves that facilitates gaining new customers every month. Some voice talent are represented by an agency, and these are either union or non-union talent. Ultimately, many voice actors will be chosen straight out of a top-notch agency, leaving the rest of those starting out to feast on scraps. Voice actors number in the thousands, yet some of these top-notch and well-known talent agencies have their “go-to” voice actors already chosen out for roles, and these are the ones that get the majority of roles, being the most established. These agencies also have a very narrow gate for entry if one is a voice actor seeking representation. Ultimately again, however, it always boils down to how well a voiceover voice or voice actor is willing to market themselves and make contact with leads and potential clients themselves. Many voice talent will boast that they are represented by an agency, but if they are not willing to reach out and connect with clients on their own, they’re doomed.
So, the answer to “how much do voice actors make?” has as wild a range of answers as the question does ramifications. Ultimately however, median income, top level income, “hobby” income is usually set by the voice actor themselves. Rate guides and price sheets direct what a client would like to make, but it really is up to the end user to decide to pay that, if the voice of the voice actor in question is the voiceover voice that the client actually hears in their head and wants to represent them.
I’m Joshua Alexander, and I’m an established voice talent with 26 years of experience under my belt. If you’d like to see my rates, feel free to check them out here. They’re straightforward, fair, and in line with the Global Voice Acting Academy’s guidelines for voiceover artist rates. Or feel free to contact me for a custom quote so you can have the question “How much does a voice talent cost?” answered with ease for your next project. I’d be glad to be of assistance! I’ve got excellent pricing and quick turnaround time for your voiceover needs.
Seattle Voiceover Artist / Voice Talent / Voice Actor for hire