Voice Over Rates & Guides
What should you charge for your voice over? What are the best voice over rates?
Should I hire Non Union or Union actors?
It's the great debate. There are so many factors, so many different types of usage and of course SAG/AFTRA Union actors verse Non Union Actors. The age of Pay to Play sites and "Side-job voice actors" has brought with it, confusion and bottom feeder rates that have made in increasingly hard to find reputable qualified talent. We're here to hopefully shed some light and make it easier for both the talent and buyer.
Understanding Voice Over Rates
First understand your actor
Non Union Actors
Non-Union refers to actors who aren’t members of SAG-AFTRA. This could be by choice or they could live in “right to work” state. Most NU actors are just getting started, learning taking classes and building their resume.
Project-wise, if your company isn't a SAG-AFTRA signatory, they don’t have to follow SAG-AFTRA guidelines.
The sad truth is that a large percentage of non-union actors aren't actually actors, at least not right away. You never really know what you are getting and they don't really know what they should be charging for their voice over service.
Luckily The VOC is here to set a suggested guidance for best practices when displaying rates.
Bottom line, even though it's non-union agents and casting directors are your best way to find legit talent at fair rates.
The VOC stands behind the suggested non union rate guidelines set forth by the GVAA. You can find those below.
The union is SAG-AFTRA. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and they have been around separately since the 1930s. They merged in 2012. Like all unions, they use collective bargaining to institute policies and rate structures.
The Union rates are usually in a "scale" form. It refers to a rate structure agreement set by SAG-AFTRA with companies that have signed an agreement to use union actors. Those companies (ad agencies, animation companies, video game companies, etc) are called Signatories.
A signatory is a company who has agreed to SAG’s collective bargaining rates and safety protocols, and in doing so, ensures that those rates and protocols are followed.
For ad agencies and advertisers that have agreements with SAG, there are specific talent payment agreements that must be followed. These can include residuals based on how and where a project is being used.
What to Choose?
For the buyer, the choice comes down to budget. You want the best and most talented casting options that fit the allowed budget. Without a doubt SAG-AFTRA actors have more training, more experience, longer resumes and you can be 100% sure they are in fact legit actors.
There is also an option called Taft-Hartley. This allows you to cast from both Union and Non Union talent without limiting your options. If a non union talent is the best, all you do is fill out a Taft Hartly form and believe me, the talent will be overjoyed. This doesn't work the other way around.
That's not to say there aren't great voice actors that work non-union. But herein lies the issue of quality control. Anyone can say they’re a non-union actor. If you cast non-union, it would be wise to do so through reputable talent agents. They are your primary mechanism for quality control in the non-union world.
One amazing way to find the best talent from an array of reputable agents is to hire a Casting Director.
The VO Rate Guides
Your company and your talent are worth the money.
Suggested Non-Union Rates
Sometimes it may SEEM easier to just say,
"yup, I'll do it for that rate".
But you may be missing out on so much money when you do that. And you are also encouraging the industry standard rates to drop.
*We also say, "Suggest" when it comes to Non-Union because there technically are no standard rates when it comes to non-union work. It's up to each individual actor and agent to decide what is a fair rate based on usage and other factors.
SAG-AFTRA Union Rates
Professional Voice Actors audition anywhere from 4 to 8 hours a day when they aren't recording actual jobs. While trying to raise a family and have a social life they also find time to market themselves. They are full time, and only through SAG-AFTRA can they achieve health, life and retirment benefits. It also helps protect their voices. Hiring union, your cast will be made up of professional actors who can deliver what you need, and tiered contracts will allow you to work within your budget.
Did you know that as a voice actor it is pretty simple to convert eligible non-union voice over work into union work with the help of a SIGNATORY?!
Yes indeed! It's an amazing way for union actors to take advantage of well paying non union work. And our good friend's over at SoundBox:LA can help you out!
Just visit them below to get started!
Using a Signatory
More info & Resources
SAG-AFTRA Voice Over Page
The Voice Over Resource Guide
SAG-AFTRA Flex & Traditional Radio Rates
SAG-AFTRA Audio Flex Calculator
SAG-AFTRA Corporate-Educational (Industrial) Rate Sheet