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    Do you have a policy for retakes?


    We all have to do them. It can be both annoying and time consuming but it’s an inevitable part of being a voice over artist. What are we talking about?

    …Retakes, pick-ups, add-ons…!

    When a script change happens or a client/director has an after thought about how they want the project to be voiced then it’s the VO artist who has to paint on their smile and just get on with it. But what’s acceptable when it comes to changing a project in terms of your time and how much, if anything, should you charge for doing retakes?


    This is a question that can often stir a bit of debate and it can be particularly awkward if you’re relatively new to the industry and don’t want to upset anybody. Here are a couple of scenarios to get the debate going. What would you do in these situations?

    Scenario 1 – You have received the script for the project and have been given direction on how to perform the voice over. The client can’t be there for the recording so you are left to your own devices. You agree a price, perform the voice over and submit the project. The client then changes the script and wants you to perform the voice over in a different style. What do you do?

    Scenario 2 – You are in the studio with the client. You work with the script and the client gives you their direction on how they want the voice over to be performed. You complete the project to the client’s satisfaction and everybody’s happy….or so you think! A couple of days later you hear back form the client that they need to change the script and they want to try something a bit different on the delivery. What do you do?

    In both of these scenarios it pays to have a strong policy when it comes to doing retakes. Would you –

    • Agree with the client up front your policy on retakes and what you will charge?
    • Does it depend on whether this is a regular client and how much you value the relationship?
    • Does it depend on the size of the project and whether it will turn into future work?
    • Charge for some of the retakes but not for others?

    In the first scenario it’s difficult because the client can’t hear you so they might constantly be coming back to you with pieces of direction. In the second scenario the client has already had the opportunity to direct you but they have still come back at a later date to change things – should they pay a price penalty for this?!  We believe that we owe our clients a kind of after-sales service, including that in the price, say 50 USD,  that’s a proof of professionalism. Of course it needs to be reasonably short and justified. And that after-sales on-call should not last over 15 days provided you are available of course. After 15 days the client should pay. Needless to say that if the retake is due to a faulty recording, a mispronunciation, a missing line, etc… that should be completely free.

    What do you think? It would really interesting to hear your policies on retakes and what kind of reactions you get from your clients when you have to charge them. Please let us know.




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    1. December 30, 2014

      Retakes can provoke self doubt and always consume time. Equally they can be great learning: either because the director is brilliant and bubbling with creativity, or because they are inexperienced and don’t know how to ask for what they need.
      Every voice provider has their own policy. Mine, so far, is to just get on and fix it fast without fuss, as it’s not arisen on anything above a few minutes. But I will have another think about what you say Constantino and give you feedback as it happens.

      I am mindful that I’m always remote to the client: unless we are on a live link, they can’t just click a key to say run that line again, or speed up etc. Once the irritation has subsided, I end up glad I worked towards a good outcome for both sides.

    2. December 30, 2014

      Yes, I completely understand this scenario. In the old days, when we didn’t have home studios, re-takes would require another trip into the recording studio for everyone, so it made sense that everyone would charge a fee for their time and talent again. But now that most VO talents are also their own engineers, it’s more of a job by job basis, and there are many factors involved. I try to get any client (especially a new one) to agree to a phone patch or ISDN session, so that they can direct to their exact specs in real time. But sometimes, this isn’t possible, and I do think that sometimes clients don’t realize the extra effort involved in matching retakes to an existing audio, especially if some time has elapsed since the initial recording. Also sometimes, you’re working one removed from the client (ad agency/production company) so I try and make sure the client has approved the final script before the recording, since they are often operating under the assumption that extra copy changes after recording are already included. Small changes will sometimes be something that I will do for no extra charge. But lots of changes (i.e. to an elearning script) does require a good deal of time, and time is ultimately what we have to value. Like quoting a project, it’s an individual decision for each as they are requested.

    3. December 31, 2014

      Thanks for the post Constantino,
      As you know it’s always wise to iron out all these details before the session begins. I always provide a contract that spells everything out. Re-takes due to pronunciation or mistakes on my part are provided at no additional charge. I do however charge for re-takes due to script changes on a per page (or sometimes per word) basis depending on the scope of the project.

      Clients reaction? Never had a problem. I cover all this in the initial client conversation and follow up in writing with the contract.

    4. December 31, 2014

      My policy for retakes is this. If it’s my fault – no charge. If it’s the clients fault – script errors or changes, the want a faster/slower read, they gave me the wrong pronunciation, I charge another fee. Often it’s not a full-session fee.

      For example: I have a regular client that sends a few scripts per month. Since these are rarely more than a page or two, I’ll charge $200-250. For that, they’ll get 2-3 full reads. Sometimes a 4th read if I’m “in a extra good mood.”

      If they come back with script changes, my fee is $75 minimum. If they make extensive changes, I’ll charge anywhere from $75 to a full session fee. This is a client I’ve been working with for 10 years or more so they know the deal going in. But sometimes, if it’s just one or two sentences, I’ll do it without any additional charge.

      Here’s an example. They send me a script and tell me the name of the person in the script is Bob Johnson. The name is only used twice. After I send them the reads, they call back and say, “We messed up. It’s Bob Johnston not Johnson.” To me that’s a freebie for a good client.

      Bottom line? It’s a judgement call. Steady client, I’ll try not to run up the bill. I usually knock out these reads in less than 30 minutes. And it’s VO tracks only. I’ve had steady clients screw up just a few words and say. “That’s our fault. Charge us for a full session.”

      Another thing I’ll do is edit out long gaps in the VO. Coughs, curse words when I mess up an easy word. Or my cat decides he wants to add a sound or two.

      In closing – don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth. You can see my rates at http://www.frankeriksen.com.

      Tip for the VO newcomer. If you quote the client a fee and they come back with, “Cut us a deal on this one and they’ll be a lot more down the road.” Never, ever drop your fee. Even if you do, you’ll most likely never hear from them again. This is 25 years experience talking. Err. Writing.

      God Bless and may 2015 be your best VO year ever!

    5. January 5, 2015

      I like happy clients and will do what is necessary, within reason, to continue their happiness. I agree with other comments in this thread; my retake policy is clearly spelled out up front. From my project confirmation:

      “After the delivery of pristine audio file(s), two (2) minor revisions are available within 24-hours at no charge. After 24-hours, rates for recuts requested at no fault of Talent or after final approval will need to be negotiated between Talent and Client on a project-by-project basis. After 48-hours, full rate applied.”

      This is my starting point and I’m open to changing the terms to fit the project. Sometimes a producer needs several days to get approval from their client. A client may need more flexibility in the number of changes and duration for changes.

      When it comes time to discuss a rate for retakes, I’ll let my client decide on the amount. Something along:

      “The rate for this project (script/page/) was $$$. How much would you be willing to pay and still feel like we both got a good deal?”

      I like my clients and want to keep them (happy!) for as long as I can.

    6. Michael Le Bellot
      December 29, 2015

      I would like to know if anyone has come up with a program that could do a “Siri” type of capture of a talent’s voice in order to create words or even sentences to fill in those retakes whenever the talent is unavailable to do them. I believe the technology is already available for it, it would just take a clever sound engineer to produce it. What’dya say?


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