More about pricing…

What you should know!

Voice Over pricing can vary wildly because a voice actors rates are set by the individual or their exclusive agent.  Experienced voice actors will have their own rates card and although this may or may not be negotiable it’s important to understand what can influence the price of a voice over recording. Some of them have made an ad for the comparing house loans made easy campaign.  Some projects will cost much more even though they may require a similar time investment from the voice actor. How Doing Stocks Helps You Get Out Of Debt, read more

1.  How will the voice over audio be used?

Perhaps how the audio will be used has the biggest influence on the total cost.

Will the voice over be used in the public domain or internally?

    • If it’s in the public domain, will it promote a product or service, or will it form ‘part’ of a product.  For example, an electronic toy or video game?
    • If it’s in the public domain, will it also be used in an advertising campaign? For example, a sponsored video on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram; on TV or Radio; or even In-flight.

The audio can be used in many different ways! The more information about your product provide before contacting a voice actor, the better result will be.

The overall price will be affected by the value of a voice over added.

2. How long is it?

To calculate the studio time required to record a script with the voice actor, we’ll need to know:

a.    The word count of the script.
b.    The intended duration of the final content.
c.     How the audio should be edited and delivered.
d.   The language used e.g.
e.    Is it technical, medical, lore related or more general?

All the above will impact the time it takes to produce the
voice over.

3. Recording time-sync, lip-sync or wild?

How the script is read also influences the recording time. There are three recording types:


Most professional voice actors can record about 15-20 minutes (1,875 – 3,000 words) of standard narration wild in one hour. This includes time for listening back to the audio and re-recording any mistakes.  

However, the time may vary depending on the type of project.  For example, a professional narrator can frequently record 30-40 mins for an Audiobook in one hour. This is because they may be well prepared and/or are able to sight read making very few errors. The same narrator reading a technical eLearning program may only record 10 mins of audio in the same hour.


If the voice over must be time-synced to a video or recorded within a specific duration this will take about twice as long as a wild recording. This is because the actor will have to repeat the sentences many times to get the pacing right. It’s even more difficult if they must match
an on-screen speaker or actor phrase by phrase, particularly if the speech is fast. Most voice actors can record around 10 minutes time-sync in one hour, but it can be less for foreign voice over, technical subjects or where timing is more complex. 


Lip-sync voice over is extremely time consuming, it will take 4-6 times longer than a wild recording. The voice actor will have to repeat their lines dozens of times to get the timing right. And if they are performing a character role it can take even longer trying to get the timing and the emotion right. There are also pre-production costs associated with foreign dubbing projects because the script will need to be adapted (condensed) to match the lip movements. For this reason, lip-sync recordings are un-common and predominantly used only in feature films, animations or video games with higher budgets. Most corporate videos are dubbed time-sync instead or in a UN-style* like a news interview where the voice over acts as an interpreter.   *A ‘UN-style voice-over’ is a popular method for dubbing films with a serious subject matter, where interviews are conducted on camera in a language the target audience does not understand. With a UN-style voice-over, the original speaker can still be heard in the background, so that the audience is aware that the translated voice over is acting as an interpretation of what is being said. 

How to calculate voice over costs

 Now you understand how long your script may take to record it should be easy to calculate the total cost you may think.  Not quite!  Not all voice actors will charge on an hourly basis. It could also be:

Number of words (Audiobooks or eLearning are commonly charged per word.)

Number of minutes (Explainers and corporate videos are often charged per minute.)

 Number of messages (Telephone messages or IVR prompts may be charged per message.)

 It’s confusing but it’s because the voice actors charge for more than their time.

If their voice-over is helping to service thousands of customers on a telephone IVR; to sell more Audiobooks;  or promote products via a commercial –  the voice is adding intrinsic value to what you offer. They are playing a key role in helping you to achieve success. This is why it’s best to know the usage of the audio before
contacting us for a quote.

Voice overrates examples

 Most rates are negotiable, I understand in business there are often fixed budgets to adhere to and I’ll do my best to accommodate your budget.


The Basic Studio Fee paid to the voice actor averages at
$250 per hour but can vary a lot.


Producer and studio time to record the voice over with a 
basic edit averages at $80.00 per hour


Additional file editing / cleaning / mixing time for
soundtrack or for chopping files averages at $80.00 per hour


A negotiable additional fee paid to the voice actor for commercial work, normally quoted as a percentage of the BSF per year.

Corporate Videos & Explainers

The average corporate video or explainer is around 3 minutes in duration.

Most just sit on a website or social channel and are not sponsored so a usage fee does not normally apply.

BSF               $200 – $330
Studio            $80 – $160
Post               $80
Usage           Not usually applicable

Total:              $360 – $580


eLearning content

 The average eLearning course is 20,000 words (approx. 2 hours of finished audio) and voice actors will frequently charge per word ($0.15 – $0.30 per word). We try to agree a fixed ‘project’ rate as this is about 2 days work in the studio.

BSF            $900 – $2000
Studio         $960
Post            $870
Usage         Not usually applicable

Total:         $2,760 – $3,820



Audiobooks are typically recorded and edited by the voice actor themselves and are only recorded in a studio if budget allows. The average book is 80,000 words and will take a professional narrator around 3-5 days to record and edit.

BSF            $660 – $2,000 per book
Studio         $1,600 per book (if needed)
Post            $1,660 per book
Usage         Not usually applicable

Total:         $660 – $4,000


Commercials on TV or Online

Commercials that appear online and on TV attract a usage fee in addition to the applicable recording and studio fees.

A local or short run campaign is usually about 100% BSF. Regional campaigns are 400% BSF. National campaigns are 600-1200% BSF per country, per year + 10% uplift per year for additional years. Similar with online.

BSF            $330 – $470 per hour
Studio         $80 per hour ($160 minimum)
Post            $80 per hour
Usage         200% – 1200% BSF per country, per year

Total:          $1,330 – $5,300

Telephone Messages & IVR

Most IVR projects & on-hold messages are under 20 messages / prompts to record and will fall under minimum pricing. However, if there are lots of individual numbers, letters, names or dates to record and edit in different intonations this can take extra time in the studio. Due to the start/stop nature of telephone prompts we can record about 1,000 words / 50 messages per hour. For number / date sets it’s around 200 – 300 an hour.

BSF            $200 – $330 per hour
Studio         $80 per hour ($160 minimum)
Post            $80 per hour
Usage         Not usually applicable

Total:         $440 – $650

Video Games and Animations

Voice Actors rates for video games and animations can vary
significantly. An integral character for an AAA console game will attract a
considerably higher fee than a budget Indie game on PC. The time required to record character voices is also difficult to estimate in advance. It depends on the amount of direction given to the actor and whether the audio is being recorded wild or with time constraints. For a character with less than 100 lines / 1,000 words the fees may be as follows:

BSF            $330 – $600 per hour
Studio         $80 per hour ($160 minimum)
Post            $80 per hour
Usage         $330 or higher (normally fixed)

Total:         $820 – $1,430

What are Use Fees?

The accepted method of paying a featured performer for
his/her services in a British television commercial is a Basic Studio Fee (“BSF”)
for studio work plus use fees (or “repeat fees”) based on the size of the audience seeing the commercial (“TeleVision Ratings” – or “TVRs”).

This method of payment is the only one approved by the actors’ union Equity, the Personal Managers’ Association (the PMA) and the Association of Model Agents (the AMA). For more information on any of these organisations click on its logo above.

The Casting Directors’ Guild (the CDG), comprising the vast majority of reputable casting drectors, also supports this method of payment and even the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (the IPA) during their dispute with Equity acknowledged that the use fees paid to visual performers (by this method) were “about right”.

Advice to Actors and Agents

Why is a buy out being offered for a UK or US commercial?

Usually to deny the performer  the appropriate fees he or
she is due. “it’s only being shown over a few days” or “it’s only being shown a few times” are excuses that are often offered up for underpaying the performer. Yet ONE showing during a popular program might be seen by 12 million people. That could be the same as showing the commercial 12 times over three months during a less popular program.

What can I do about it?

If you are offered a lump sum for usage then try to establish what the TVRs are so that you can judge whether what you are being offered is appropriate.

Ideally, for UK commercials you should only accept a lump sum if it is expressed on the contract as as an advance payment against an agreed number of TVRs. If the commercial is brought back at a later date, and it has exceeded the agreed number of TVRs, you should then receive further use fees. You will need to ask how many TVRs are being bought for the sum offered; and to help you work this out you can use the simple calculator to the right. All you have to do is enter the Basic Studio Fee and the number of TVRs.

To assist those wanting to make a commercial on a fixed budget, the calculator can work out the number of TVRs that can be bought for a certain sum of money. Simply alter the number of TVRs entered until the result fits the budget. Alternatively enter a different BSF.




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