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How much does it cost to hire a voice actor?

Figuring out the cost to hire a voice actor can seem a little overwhelming at first. Especially since multiple factors determine a voice actor’s pay.  Technically, what you should pay as a client depends largely on the project type. But on the plus side, voice over rates don’t follow a one-size-fits-all rule, so hiring an awesome voice actor is both possible and affordable. Now, good voice actors are expensive because they know they’re good. That said, it’s also penny-wise and pound-foolish to book a cheap actor and mess up your project when hiring a competent actor will guarantee you your ROI. 

What can a voice actor do for your project?

Generally speaking, voice actors bring a written script to life. This could be for a commercial, TV show, or even a documentary. Their tone and emotion are really what cements a brand’s message. Aaron Paul, star of Breaking Bad, really gets meaningful tone down to a science in the Mazda Driver’s Life commercial. He modifies his voice based on certain milestones in the on-screen character’s life. For example, he raises his pitch in excitement when the character is with college friends but lowers it to a more soothing level when the character is on a road trip with his soon-to-be wife. 

Through tone variations, the viewer is drawn into the emotional journey of the character during the specific scenes. This helps viewers better connect Mazda to the feeling of fulfillment. So, scripted lines may lead the way but it’s the voice actor that really drives home the message. 

cost to hire a voice actor: image of a man writing on a screen
Image: Envato

What factors determine the cost to hire a voice actor?

When choosing the best voice actor for your project, aspects such as word count, recording duration, union rates, and experience all play a role in determining the voice actor’s fee. Voice123 also provides a voice over rate guide to help you calculate how much you can expect to pay.  

Word count recording duration 

Timing is a critical determiner of rates because a thirty-second commercial will obviously have a much shorter investment time compared to a ninety-minute documentary. An example of rates based on duration are:

  • 0 – 1 minute with 150 words or less costs $50 – $200
  • 2 – 5 minutes with 150 – 750 words costs $200 – $350
  • 5 – 15 minutes with 750 – 2250 words costs $350 – $500
  • 15 – 30 minutes with 2250 – 4500 words costs $500 – $750
  • 30 – 45 minutes with 4500 – 6750 words costs $750 – $1000
  • 45 – 60 minutes with 6750 – 9000 words costs $1000 – $1250

Experience and recognition 

Experience and recognition are two factors linked to higher rates. Just like a carpenter hones his craft over years of practice, voice actors likewise improve their skills with experience. And having an experienced voice can add both emotional dynamics and intrigue to your project. When it comes to celebrity voice overs, however, you can naturally expect to pay much higher rates compared to a lesser-known voice actor. For example, Morgan Freeman’s voice over for the March of the Penguins documentary adds not just depth but class and emotion as well. So consider what is worth the investment to you. At the end of the day, the voice actor you choose will become an extension of your brand. So, whether it’s an experienced or lesser-known voice, the actor you choose should ideally represent you to your customers. 

Union and non-union rates 

Depending on the country, certain projects may have to comply with industry or union standard rates. In the United States, the voice actor union is called SAG AFTRA (The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), whereas if your project were in Canada for example, you’d have to go through ACTRA (The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists).

Broadcast vs non-broadcast

In a nutshell, several factors weigh in on voice over rates. You need to consider if the project will be broadcast on radio, or TV, or if it’s a non-broadcast project such as e-learning videos. For broadcast projects, local, national, or global areas need to be considered along with the length of time the broadcast will run, such as a few weeks or even a year. If it’s non-broadcast however, the rate is calculated based on word count or finished length.

cost to hire a voice actor: image of voice actor recording
Image: Envato

Final thoughts on the cost to hire a voice actor 

AI voices although used by some can never replace the vocal quality of a seasoned voice actor. So, factoring a voice actor into your project’s budget will be well worth the cost. That’s of course, where Voice123’s roster of pro voice actors can work for you. Your project aims to reach your target market. So, working with a voice actor to achieve just the right balance of tone and dynamic emotion is a sure way to move your target audience. 
If you’re a first-time client, why not give Voice123 a go, we guarantee that you won’t be disappointed. Simply post a project free to start the process. This gives you access to tons of custom audition samples that match your project requirements. All you have to do next is click, book, and wait to receive your recording. So, whether you’re looking for a Morgan Freeman or an Aaron Paul, Voice123 has a wide range of superbly talented voice actors to suit all your acting and pricing needs. And on that final note, we’d like to take a moment to wish you well in the world of voice overs. And remember to start posting and get booking.

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