Now is a great time to rethink how you buy voice over. Here are four popular ways to employ great voice over talent and be confident that you’re making the best choice for you and your budget.

Voice over agents look after their own exclusive talent and celebrity actors (their “clients”). The agent negotiates a price with you which is paid to the voice minus a fixed commission, usually 15-20%. The agent will have a good understanding of usage fees (which determine where you can use your voice over). This is important as usage will make up a large part of the final cost to you. The voice will record in a specialist recording studio which either you or the agent can arrange. Agencies tend to concentrate on television commercials and other high end voice over projects that command top fees so may not be the best choice for routine voice over work. Nevertheless finding a good agent can very rewarding for both “client” and customer alike. One tip: find an agent who is on your wavelength, responds to your requests quickly and who will do great deals on usage costs.

Voice over production companies buy talent at one price and mark them up to you. There is fierce competition for your business so it pays to shop around. Ask for good value fixed price packages that include in-house recording studios, dedicated project managers and expect a strong focus on customer service. Companies like The Voiceover Gallery are hard to beat on service and price for complex multilingual and repeat volume projects. The bonus to you is that the quality of the voice talent and recording studios will be first class. One tip: make sure you choose a company with enough studio capacity for quick turnaround high volume gigs.

Voice over producers are industry specialists who you can retain on a fixed fee per project or on a daily basis. An experienced producer can negotiate on your behalf with voice over production companies and direct with voice talents to secure you significant savings. A good producer will happily get involved early in the voice over process and help with castings, script issues and finally voice direction and file delivery. Producers will have their “go to” first choice talents but aren’t tied to any specific suppliers. They mainly work with voice talents who are set up with their own home studios who will compete against each other for your work. Most voice over producers specialise in different areas of the industry so it’s easy to find a games producer for example or a foreign language producer or one that specialises in working with kids and teenagers. One tip: before you employ a producer look for a good body of work and solid client testimonials.

Voiceover talent “peer to peer” websites are increasingly popular with clients on a tight budget or clients that want to manage the entire production process. It works like this: talents pay an annual fee to a website to audition for projects – there is no charge to the customer. You decide the fee when you post your job and that talents will see it when they audition. You contract directly with your chosen voice. Increasingly though jobs are being posted with fees that are well below the rate voice professionals expect to be paid based on past experience. With the focus on securing traffic and workflow, some sites don’t pay sufficient attention to the quality of voices on their roster. Your casting might return a result from a vastly experienced talent with a £15000 home studio but it’s more likely to attract a beginner with a £150 USB mic and a old duvet hung over a coat rack in a spare room. Some of the best voice talents working today are not renewing subscriptions arguing that experience, professionalism and creativity are undervalued and that peer to peer sites are taking the industry into uncharted and perhaps rocky waters. One tip: start with a small project – don’t rely on talent websites unless you’re 100% sure you’ve found a diamond in the rough.

James Bonallack has 30 years experience in the voice over industry. James lives Brighton, United Kingdom. If you’d like more information about this article please get in touch.

JB