Some voice talents will only record for a minimum fee of 500 USD. Others start at 300 USD. Others start at 200 USD, and there are even some who will work for 5 bucks. Why the wide range of prices?
First of all, let's note that the price of a voiceover usually depends on the project type (TV commercial, promotional video, telephone system, tutorial, etc) and the project length (in words or in minutes). So a voice talent may charge 500 USD for a promotional video and 200 USD minimum for a telephone system. However, a very long telephone system, for example, a 3,000 word script, may cost more than a very short promotional videos.
So let us assume that we've asked for price quotes for the exact same project type and length from a variety of voice talents, for example, a one-minute promotional video. We will still see a wide range of prices. Why?
How can a promtional video voiceover cost 500 USD by one service provider and 300 USD by another service provider?
Reasons for Voiceover Price Differences
There are several reasons for the price differences in voiceover:
In most cases, the cheap voice talent (such as the one who charges 5 dollars) is not a professional voice talent. They are trying to learn and gain experience by working for cheap. Whether they are practicing their delivery and diction, or they are practicing audio editing (an equally important skill for a voice talent working from a home studio), do you really want them to learn and gain experience while working on your project? A professional voice talent is the way to go!
The more expensive voice talent has invested in top-of-the-line equipment (low self-noise condenser microphone, audio interface, acoustically treated studio environment) that produces high-quality audio. They are charging you for the use of that equipment. In contrast, a cheap voice talent may simply be using a plug-and-play computer microphone in an untreated room. They have invested practically nothing in their business and in your voiceover. From hisses and hums to crackles and echoes, you will hear the difference in the audio quality.
A voice talent with excellent vocal abilities (perfect diction, the right intonation, etc) and audio editing abilities (removal of outtakes, seamless insertion of changes, etc) will confidently charge more for their product because it is worth more. So what does a cheap price indicate? You probably prefer a voice talent who can get the job done right and whose prices reflect that.
This point cuts both ways. A good voice talent will be in demand, and their time will therefore be priced accordingly, to enable them to dedicate enough time to do each project right. A cheap voice talent may also be in demand due to their low prices, but because they are charging so little, they can't afford to dedicate enough time to each project, resulting in sloppy work.
All this is not to say that the most expensive voice talent is always the best. Sometimes a professional voice talent's price will be mid-range instead of high, simply because they do not include recuts in the price. Recuts are changes to a voiceover after the recording is done. Some voice talents include recuts in the price, resulting in a higher price, and some charge separately for recuts, resulting in a lower price for the original recording. For example, the 500 USD voice talent may include two recuts in the price, while the mid-priced 300 USD voice talent may charge an extra 100 USD per recut – so a recording plus two recuts costs the same by these two voice talents. In this case, the mid-priced voice talent may be your best bet, as you don't have to pay for the recuts unless you need them.
Note: Beware of cheap voice talents who include unlimited free recuts in their price: Replacing one poor quality recording with another poor quality recording is pointless and time-consuming.
The Bottom Line
All in all, you get what you pay for. If you pay for a cheap voiceover, expect an inexperienced and awkward sounding voiceover with unclear words, lots of background noise and echoes, and choppy audio. And no amount of recuts will fix these problems. In contrast, you can hire a mid-to-high-range voice talent with reasonable confidence that you will receive a high quality product. Which do you prefer for your project?
Bottom line: You get what you pay for!
For a reasonable voiceover price quote, contact me today.
Article by Victoria Feinerman