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    Buyout fee for Voiceovers

    Should I include a buyout fee in my quotes to clients regarding my voiceover services? If you are relatively new to the voice over industry and you happen to land a lucrative TV commercial gig then after you have finished completing your cartwheels of joy it’s time to start thinking business and determining how much you should be paid!

    In this increasingly complicated digital world the way you get paid for projects is becoming equally as complex. Let alone a buyout or copyright release for your voice. With multiple channels such as TV, radio, video, the internet, in-store broadcasting channels etc how on earth do you work out what’s a fair rate? The chances are that the client may want to use your voice over across a number of platforms so this needs to be discussed. A buyout fee could also be applicable on phone messages if there is a major brand involved and massive calls expected, so public who will ultimately listen to your voice.

    Before the world became so complicated you used to get paid repeat fees or royalties every time your voice over was played. Some celebrities may still be able to command royalties but for the jobbing VO artist you are much more likely to be paid a one-off usage fee or buy-out fee as it is more often called.

    Once the buy-out fee has been agreed then the client can use your VO recording on any platform and as often as they like. This means you need to make sure that you get paid a fair rate.

     So what kind of questions should you be asking the client so that you know precisely how your voice over will be used? Here are a few suggestions:

    –       What’s the nature of the project? TV, radio, online promo, website video or all these things?

    –       How long are they going to use it? TV and radio ads might be for a short space of time but an online video for YouTube could be there indefinitely so you need to know.

    –       Where will your voice over be used? Is it for regional, national or international coverage?

    Once you know the answers to the above you can then go away, do a bit of research and then come back to the client with what you think is a fair price for your services. It is then all down to the negotiation…

    Having said that, a buyout fee or copyright release should be established in proportion to the number platforms your voice is used into, also the brand that is involved. For broadcast TV, it’s important to know which channels, whether the ad is broadcast on primetime and what’s the time spain on the on-air ad. Usually the way to reckon the buyout fee is a 2 to 5 multiple of the basic rate. So if your minimum rate is 150 USD, you could ask 3 to 5 times as much depending on the channels or brands.

    What do you think? Do you have any other questions that a VO artist should be asking? What are your experiences? Please let us know.




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