Jim Kennelly, GM at Realtime Casting and owner of Lotas Productions, explains rates for hiring voice talent.
As the owner of Lotas Productions, I enjoy the unique position of understanding the voiceover business from casting to completion. Every day I cast voiceovers and direct sessions. And I own a recording studio and production company in New York City which offers union paymaster services. The role I enjoy most from “casting to completion” is that of a producer. The greatest part of my responsibilities as a producer occur before the actual recording session. It involves the hiring of the actors and negotiating talent fees between their agent and our client. This skill is where the producer shines.
Our vision for Realtime Casting is to make finding “just the right voice” easy, accurate and efficient. And this leads me to the question I answer more than any other …
How much will the talent cost?
Below are voiceover rates for Sag Aftra union voices and they include talent, union and payroll fees. Let me break this down for anyone who is interested in hiring union voices for their next project. These rates include:
- Sag Aftra talent fees
- Agents commission
- Sag Aftra pension & health contribution
- Payroll costs
- Signatory services
I’ve listed “one invoice”, everything included rates for voiceovers in a few of the most common voice categories. These include TVVO’s for local markets, a National cable buy, such as ESPN only, or a Maximum cable buy, local radio commercial rates or Network radio use, such as on Sirius, voiceovers for website use only, and two types of non-broadcast industrial narrations. Before we get to rates it is very important to answer these questions…
Why a paymaster? Why can’t a producer just write the voice talent a check? What is an AFTRA/SAG paymaster?
A paymaster is a payroll company hired by the production company or ad agency to assume the payroll obligations for the job. This includes paying the voice talents salary and taking proper deductions, handling pension and welfare contributions, keeping track of residuals, and processing unemployment and W-2 forms. I have worked as a paymaster for 30 years. It is not simple, and as a client, you will be happier to have a paymaster to explain the ins and outs of working with the best voice talent in the world.
Here are talent rates we regularly quote in a few popular voiceover categories. Please note, all talent fees are subject to final approval of the talent and their agent or manager. These fees are all inclusive:
- TVVO for local market use for 13 weeks…$800.
- TVVO for spot cable use ESPN only for 13 weeks…$2600.
- TVVO for Max Cable use for 13 weeks…$3700.
- Radio commercial for local market use for 13 weeks…$600.
- Radio commercial use for Network radio such as Sirius for 13 weeks…$2400.
- VO for website use only (not a commercial)…as low as $1000 to 2200.
Non broadcast Industrial narration…
- Category 01: to train, inform, classroom or museum use…$600/ first hour $200/ additional ½ hour.
- Category 02: General public use to induce purchase…$700./ first hour $200/ additional ½ hour.
Please remember, the talent you select, and their agent, must approve any rate prior to the recording. Believe me, there are many combinations of talent fees and use in the voiceover business. There are even newly emerging platforms to consider. Pricing a voiceover job requires having the right information. It might take a few questions, but as a producer and paymaster we handle it everyday. At Realtime Casting we’re working closely with voice actors, their agents and managers, other paymasters, and the union to make online auditioning and hiring the best voices easier than ever before.
Why do we work this hard to make things easy for all producers? We are taking a positive step in the direction of providing online union voice casting. I know the greatest measure of satisfaction is a rewarding experience for all. When producers and actors are brought together and create something great, the love we have for our profession ignites that flame inside to remind us, “Yes. This is why I do what I do!” We want you to have such an experience with Realtime Casting.