How To Raise Your VO Rates, According To a Talent Manager

Article Image
Photo Source: Shutterstock

So you want to make more money doing what you love? Let’s explore how you earn higher rates in voiceover.

Firstly, there’s scale. Scale minimum is an established rate-minimum that you should expect for a professional job from professional buyers. Everyone should begin here. Yes, you may be less experienced than other VO talent at your particular stage of the game, but after you’ve studied, perfected your craft, learned to tell the “story,” and can deliver a message authentically and effectively then you’re ready for scale minimum rates. Now, take that a step farther. How do you ask for or obtain more than the minimum? Well, that’s where it gets more involved. 

Let's say you have been voicing a certain product for a good period of time, even for a year or more. This might be the time to tell your agent or manager (or yourself, if you’re self-managing) that before signing a new agreement with the buyer, you’d like to see an increase in rate based on your success with the campaign. You may meet with resistance or a buyer may agree that you do indeed bring such value to a campaign that you’ve earned an increase in the minimum rate. Success! 

Maybe you’re an influencer, a social presence with a notable place in the social world where you influence purchasers via your notoriety. You can certainly expect more money based on the draw of buyers you bring with you to a product. Influencers find more increase in rates if their face or name is recognizable of course, so since not all influencers’ voices are that well known, it’s not a given that just because you’re an influencer you’ll automatically earn more. 

It’s also not uncommon for a voice actor to be sought after in the same product conflict area, such as a restaurant brand for example. If you’re the voice of a restaurant chain and another chain is interested in using you as well, the brand you already voice for will need to increase your rate by the time the next agreement rolls around or risk losing you to the new brand. This leveraging can benefit you and if the original brand wishes to keep you on board, they’ll need to fork it over (get it...fork? Restaurant?) 

All representatives of good strong professional talent strive to establish the best rates possible for their talent. You should at a minimum receive scale plus 10% for most any job, whether it be union or nonunion. As your work becomes more widely known, partner with your representative to help seek over-scale, double-scale, triple-scale, and so forth. Time and experience do pay and as you develop a bigger reputation in the business, you can use that experience to demand more than minimum pay. Certainly celebrities earn more than an unknown voice talent and at a certain point in their fame, they’ll secure a guaranteed rate or a quoted rate they expect on each job at a minimum. We can’t all be celebrity talent, but that doesn’t mean we can’t seek the most for our skills, so don’t be afraid to ask for it. 

Hold tight to your value as a VO actor!

Check out Backstage’s voiceover audition listings!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Author Headshot
Jeffrey Umberger
Jeffrey Umberger is a VO manager with ACM Talent (NY, ATL, L.A.). His background in the entertainment industry stretches back nearly 40 years, first as a film and TV actor, composer, and musician, transitioning to the casting, agent, and management side to specialize in voiceover. Former owner and founder of Umberger Agency, Jeffrey is a well-respected VO industry expert, panelist, speaker, and actors advocate.
See full bio and articles here!