Acting : Rate Sheets by Samuel Estes

Samuel Estes

Rate Sheets

Curious to see if you all are able to get these rates, or if they seem way off base.

Tim McLaughlin

Hi Samuel, I don't think those are too off base from what I and other talent charge. I use my rate sheet - - as a starting point. Depending on the project I'll adjust my rate up or down accordingly.

Jodi Krangle

Hi guys. Samuel, you'll have to find good rates that work for you, but I find - at least for broadcast - and most especially for non-broadcast, that the rates listed at (and, I'm sorry, Tim - in your rate sheet too) are quite low. They might be a starting point, but they're certainly not an ending point (at least not for me). And yes, clients do pay more - and know that they should pay more. They're not just paying for a commodity, remember. The end product isn't just a sound file. It's also the editing that goes into making that sound file clean and clear, the expertise to maybe give them more than one take, to interpret their script and make it come to life (which you likely had to have coaching for) - the ability to record it in your home studio (and you weren't likely charging them a studio fee, were you? But that should be factored in SOMEwhere. You had to pay for that equipment, didn't you? It's not as expensive as it used to be to sound professional these days, but it's still not cheap!). And you should take into account the fact that if you're non-union, you won't be getting residuals. That means that what you're really doing, is offering a buy out - ie: they don't have to pay anything more to use it for as long as they like (or for as long as you put in the contract - which is typically a year, for an option to purchase another year at the same rate, etc. Depends on if you're working with an agent, or on your own. I tend to be less picky about such things when I'm working directly with the client). There are a LOT of considerations here. If a client becomes a regular, you can always give them a discount - but chances are, they won't ask for one - or your negotiations will be unique to that client. Basically, when I quote a client, I say (and it's right on the contact page on my website) that I have a minimum charge for most things (and then I name it. Yours might be different from mine). Telling a client that and then seeing their reaction, gives me a good gauge about whether or not we'll be able to work together (though I can be convinced to go a bit lower, given the right project and circumstances). After that, I ask what their budget is. We negotiate. At no time in the process do I make them feel as if I'm doing them a favor. But I am a professional, and professionals are confident in what they do - and are fully willing to walk away if a minimum condition isn't met. With a smile, of course. :) So ... the bottom line in this long-winded reply? Think very closely about your rates, maybe use as a guideline, but don't feel that's your MAXIMUM. That should your MINIMUM. I don't know if you already do, and I know rates are unfortunately, going down across the board, even with Agent-managed projects - but when you get a few Agent-managed projects, you'll see what the "big guys" are paying. That'll give you a better idea. I'm not a big fan of now that they've made it virtually impossible for someone to give their SurePay feature a pass. I don't like the idea of paying a monthly fee, and an extra 10% for them to Big Brother me (I can take care of myself, thanks), and then not being able to cultivate the clients I work for there as my own clients (they don't allow you to put your contact information in your audition text anymore - which used to be a great way to get to know your clients. And it wasn't like you were contacting THEM. I mean, sheesh. But it keeps folks using SurePay since the clients don't know of any other way to initiate the interaction ... Bleh.) Anyway, you get the idea. Sure, use the rate sheet as a starting point - but as you get more confident in what you do, that's all it should be - a STARTING point. Best of luck to you, Samuel! :)

Tim McLaughlin

Jodi, well thought out response and I can't say that I disagree with anything you said. (BTW, no apologies necessary about my rates.) As I mentioned these are starting points for discussion with a potential client. My commercial rates may be a bit low and at some point I'll probably make some adjustments. At this point, the bulk of my work is long-form narration, primarily eLearning so I'm probably a bit out of touch when it comes to spot rates. You nailed it with SurePay on I don't like them standing in between the talent and the client. They are acting as an agent in that regard with taking a percentage. My agent takes a percentage also, but doesn't expect me to pay $349 a year as well.

Jodi Krangle

Exactly - with respect to, Tim. When I was first starting out, I used to build up a client base (and they were great for that!) - when that was still possible. I left them two years ago in disgust. If you don't do a lot of broadcast, I can see how the rates would be confusing. ;) But I can tell you that for e-learning, I'm at $300 for the first five minutes and $30 per minute after that. I do e-learning, but not a whole lot that's hours of finished audio at a time. Mostly, mine come in at around anywhere from eight to 45 minutes. But since I don't really want the really long stuff, that works out just fine. And I'm told my rates are middle of the road. I started at $250 for the first five minutes and $25 per minute after that, and then raised my pricing several years back. You just have to decide what works best for you. To estimate how long a certain word count would be, just decide how many words you read comfortably in a minute (140, maybe?) and divide it by the amount of words in the script. You can estimate pretty closely how much the finished job will end up being, that way - both for your client and yourself. As for broadcast rates, it's different locally, in every market. Some have larger minimums, some low ones. You have to decide what your minimum will be and stick to your guns - or if you feel you'd like to negotiate, do that. Just be ready to walk away. Only you know what your ratio of pay to headache will be. It's different for everyone. :) When it comes to regional or national, that can get tricky - but so that you get to renegotiate in a year, say, you might want to pass on projects of that nature to your agent and let him/her handle the details for you. They'll get their cut, sure - but they'll usually negotiate more for you than you might have gotten yourself ANYway. So it can be really worth it. Anyway, just some thoughts. :)

Andrew Heyl

Folks I'm about to be the unpopular guy in class but it's imperitive that as talent we all understand what's happening. This bullshit of what should I charge has all come from companies like V123 and commoditizing your hard work. While I am in SAG/AFTRA I do understand the need for certain types of work that are not under the jurisdiction of unions. I have the great fortune of working in Los Angeles (by choice) as a talent with exposure to excellent work but the lions share is what we are all looking for, good regular well paying clients. If you want a fair scale to work from you need look no further than the rates that were set very fairly and through MANY years of hard fought efforts of SAG-AFTRA Scale Here's what the community (and I LOVE THIS COMMUNITY) never seems to grasp. This is NOT a new world being explored. The assholes of V123 and Voices have done something that serves ONLY them. They make you PAY for auditions. They created a world where so many people view VO as a HOBBY that only a select few will ever be able to make this a career. Thoughts to consider. Companies like Kelloggs with a SINGLE third quarter earnings of $3.64 BILLION in sales can easily afford a union talent to promote their products. They however, hire a shithead producer who advertises on V123 willing to pay a talent a mere $800. for a NATIONAL spot and run it for an entire year with no further compensation. For success to be anywhere in the future for any of us we need to work to support and maintain the value in what we provide. If we are clawing over one another for a $200 job then not only are we not worth what we provide. We can all say "If I don't do it someone else will" and with that we can all continue to work a day job and approach this as a way to earn a little extra cash. BE PROFESSIONAL. Ask these questions: What is my voice being used for? How long will it be used? How will this benefit my client? How can I serve my client to best get them the desired results? If you can clearly understand the answers to these questions you can clearly see how you are worth whatever you want to charge. If it is broadcast, charge appropriately and don't let them whine about their lousy budget. Media buys are EXPENSIVE. Vastly more expensive than what they will ever pay you. A good producer and a valid ad agency know this and will hire you with an understanding of the real cost to the client. Stop letting fly by night ad agencies hurt you when they are making plenty of money. You should not be penalized for their inability to sell a client on a campaign or ad the right way. If it is internal, understand the rates being charged and be worth what you are charging. Work well, work quickly and be excellent at what you do and you will never have to defend any rate you charge. Lose your insecurities. Stop fighting for crumbs. You are MUCH better served by several excellent clients who compensate you fairly than fighting for the bottom feeder work. You will spin your wheels endlessly and never see career changing opportunity. Up your game. Raise your value. Stop playing by the rules of those who are breaking the industry into a "thunder dome" mentality. Look for those who understand the need for excellent talent and who appreciate how hard it is to become a top talent.

Samuel Estes

Andrew - NOT UNPOPULAR at ALL! Thank you so much for those comments, that's exactly what I wanted someone to say. These rates seemed pretty bad to me as well - I've only been an engineer on some VO recording (ADR work). I had a friend recently say those exact same sentiments to me as well. Thank you so much for sharing!

Jodi Krangle

Very good points, Andrew. And believe me - a voice actor doesn't have to be union to agree with them. ;)

Patrick Sweeney

All valid points by everyone. It's important to know your worth and do your due diligence with every working arrangement. Understand what your getting into by asking some of the auestions Andrew suggested plus others and don't forget that sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away and say no.

Stephen James

Another very good source of rates and other information is at . Don't forget, these are all just guidelines and all rates are negotiable - and NEVER undersell yourself or the profession just to "get work".

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