explainer

  1. Did your voiceover talent have coaching?
  2. Do they pursue on-going professional development?
  3. What is their studio setup/equipment?
  4. What it their policy on revisions/pickups?
  5. What is their turnaround time?

 Put simply, the answers to these questions will tell you a lot about a potential voice over actor! If you take the time to answer these questions before hiring a voice over talent for your next project, you will avoid a good deal of stress and uncertainty!

Why does it matter whether or not a voice over talent ever worked with a coach? Just as teachers have on-going professional development workshops, doctors go to medical conferences, lawyers must take CLCs, voiceover actors must continually work on their craft. This is in part because the needs and expectations of our industry are constantly changing and in part because we can always improve on our skills. Professional feedback and working with others is the only way to bring out the best in our performances. Voiceover talents who are willing to invest in their training are worth your investment. Voiceover actors who have not committed to their own practice are likely not worth your time either.

Does this voiceover talent pursue ongoing professional development? In a fast-paced, evolving industry that has so many new niches, it is so important for a voiceover coach to take advantage of professional development opportunities. In addition to coaching, there are on-line webinars, accountability partners, voiceover conferences, professional groups, podcasts… the list goes on and on. There are also professional organizations like the eLearning Guild and the Children’s Media Association that voiceover talents often belong to in order to enrich their learning and their networking opportunities. All of this matters very much!

The studio set up of your voiceover talent matters A LOT! While there is not one right microphone or or one go to interface, there are some guidelines that are important. It does matter that your talent have a microphone with an interface and not a USB mic. This all pre-supposes that the voiceover artist has their own studio in the first place which is, of course, essential. Rule out and talent who does not have their own studio. The easiest criteria is to look for WoVo approval of the studio.  WoVo is the professional association for voice actors. If the voiceover actor or voice over actress has gone to the trouble of getting WoVo certified, then audio engineers have vetted that talent and their booth is ok to use for your project.

All talents have a policy on pickups and revisions. There is not an industry wide policy, so if it is not made clear in your initial email or phone exchange, simply ask them what their policy is. It is very important that the voice over actress or actor be accessible if you have a last minute script change or if you need a pickup and you need to find out in advance what is included in your initial price and what is not. I cover all performance errors.  The cost for revisions varies depending on how much was paid for the job upfront and the size of the revision. It is also always only considered a revision BEFORE the work has aired. Once the work has aired it is a new job. Still, all of this needs to be fleshed out at the start of the job so that you know whether or not you are within budget.  The GVAA rate guide is a great way to understand industry standard rates, and from there the talents’ policy should make more sense.

Lastly, you should find out what the voiceover talent’s turn around time is. Some voice over actors accommodate RUSH jobs. That means you will have your finished audio delivered within four hours. Typically, unless you are doing a large eLearning module, a 24 hour turn-around is standard. Still, you should never assume anything. When sending out a job, it is best to tell the talent what you need and ask the talent specifically if they can accommodate that.

The best recipe for success is open communications! While there are no guarantees, voiceover actors are typically friendly, outgoing folks, so the more specific you are from the start, the better your project will be!

Hit the Road, Jack…

As a voiceover talent, it is my job to make every word come alive and bring the script to life the way its creator intended. So I have been exposed to some pretty sensational writing, and I can tell you that as of recent sometimes the only word to describe a client who is all kinds of wrong is not even found in the English language. The word we need, instead, is the Hebrew word hutzpah.

If you are not familiar with hutzpah, let me share this mornings hutzpadic story and you will get the gist right away. A new and potential client from another country wrote to me overnight. “Sam” offered me $50 and said that was per role for an explainer video, and for those not in the know standard rates for explainers average from $175-$300 depending on the length. He then went on to explain that $50 was for a 3-4 minute script! Yes, I kept reading, mouth open, in shock. Sam then said that as this script was shorter than usual, he would be willing to offer me $50 for two scripts! This is what I call hutzpah!  If you’re thinking I was unreasonable, read my blog on how long a short recording really takes! 

So, how did I respond? I did actually respond. I thanked him for his interest and sent him a link to the GVAA rate guide, an amazing reference if you don’t know it.

I told Sam that I always maintain industry standards in every single booking, and that when he can afford to pay me a standard rate he should feel free to reach out again. I then wished him all the best in his future endeavors. No need to show hutzpah on my end.

There are a few problems with this situation. In order to send Sam walking, I had to have the confidence in myself and my work that I am worth what I know my work to be worth. I am not afraid to maintain my rates. Sadly, in recent weeks, I have gotten responses from these undesirable clients that they have multiple voiceover actors willing to submit at their rates. As long as folks new to the industry are willing to accept these low rates, they undermine the pay for the rest of us. If you are in this category, you might want to check out https://www.mikecoopervoiceover.com/. Mike often presents about this very topic at voiceover conferences!

Imagine calling a tutor for your child. The tutor is an expert in their field and that is why you trust them to begin with. They have an education in their area, and in the time that you pay them, they are going to share some skills and pass on a specific benefit to your child. You would never have the hutzpah to bargain with them or try to negotiate a different rate. As voiceover talents, we have had countless hours of training, have expensive studios to maintain, and have demos that have cost thousands of dollars. Our rates not only take this into account, but also pay for the session fee and the license for the use of our voice for a given amount of time. Attempting to undermine our rates is just hutzpah and we should never be afraid to maintain our standards.