What do you charge for that app voice over?

No, seriously…what do you charge? Talk about this with me!


“PHABULOUS” voice over work?
This morning, I was using my new Samsung Galaxy5. The thing is practically a Tablet or iPad, and “phablets” have impacted sales of iPads and Tablets. Oddly enough, it is one of the biggest “phones” I have ever owned. But that is not why I write today…

You see, as with new mobile phones, there are many factory-installed pieces of obnoxious garbage the company is test driving on consumers. I was holding my phone this morning and after my Gmail upgraded for the 90th time, a video came on and my phone screamed at me, “SODALICIOUS!”.

A part of me thought for a second, “I bet you I know that guy.”, and the other part of me said…

What do you charge for that app voice over?
Before all of the techno-phobic loyalists to television voice over work chyme in with, “I would never do such small-time work”, I invite you to think about some facts.

According to the Pew Research Center, 90% of American adults own a cellphone. In addition to this, as of January 2014:
58% of American adults have a smartphone
32% of American adults own an e-reader
42% of American adults own a tablet computer

Now, let’s throw on top of this that “Sodalicious!” is a Facebook app, and Facebook is used by nearly 900 million people globally.

Stop and think about this, especially if you are in a union
What type of media outlet offers a listening potential of nearly 90% of the US market, and 800 million people globally (because 100 million Facebook profiles are known to be fake)? Now I happen to know somethings from experience, and it is always unsettling:

1. Voice over work for apps and mobile technology do not pay in a way that reflects “sales” or “audience”.
2. There are voice actors who scoff at that type of work
3. The result is that this type of voice over work is often done by non-union voice actors, usually tech savvy and with less mainstream experience, and able to accept less pay.

What I think shakes me about this is how I know voice actors with mainstream experience influence the type of voice over work being done everywhere. These experienced voice actors represent a niche of less than 10,000. What you have is a scenario where a small group of highly influential people are turning down voice over work that offers exposure to nearly 900 million people, world-wide, which leaves the influence to be controlled by the masses, especially when such voice over work is turned down.

Why is it turned down by experienced voice actors? When I ask why the responses I usually get are:

1. “It’s not real voice over work.”
2. “It does not offer professional pay.”

I tend to think #2 is the result of believing in #1. It is kind of hard to tell people, “I deserve to be paid more”, while at the same time telling them, “Your work is not real.”

Where does the problem start?
I have to call unions out on this one. Not having categories for certain types of voice over work, or creating vague categories that cannot address specifically the type of work being done, plays a large role in why pay for such abundant work does not reflect “sales of the product” or “audience”.

There needs to be categories that address the way technology has impacted media. There does NOT need to be protesting against certain types of work because it will happen with or without the experienced niche getting involved.

What would you charge for doing this type of work?
…And still have it protect voice actors from being exploited?
Google Ads
Facebook Apps
Large tech jobs that may require thousands of messages

What you CANNOT do is call this type of voice over work “unprofessional” and “beneath you”. Why? Because you are dismissing voice over work heard by nearly 900 million people. It is somewhat unrealistic to say, “I want better pay”, when you represent a small niche outnumbered 9000 to 1.

The Deal with Tech Voice Over Jobs
Simply put, when you deal with such people you are dealing with people who are taking risks. The tech market is competitive and there is no way to truly know if an idea will take off. There can be scientific guesses made, but not everyone knows what happens when a product takes on a life of its own.

Some food for thought…

What if people thought the voice of Siri was creepy? What would that do to sales?
Who is really at risk when a voice over damages the quality of a product or makes it infamous for negative reasons?
What if you work for a major media outlet like NBC or ABC, but only to do ads for their websites?
Should you be paid the same given the audience will be larger than a TV viewing audience?

What you should NOT do?
Never call a person’s revenue-generating, product “unprofessional”. When we hate something that is happening it usually means there is something new to learn. The deal is right now is that I think voice actors are charging rates for such work in a mindset that focuses on “hobbyist”, “always breaking even”, or “living hand to fist”; meaning “very little to no profit”.

The last thing you should do is believe this voice over work will go away simply by “sticking together”. The work is here to stay for the foreseeable future, ad agencies are loving it, and now it is time to put the positive influence on getting paid well. For me, I know I am 1000 times smarter than I was 20 years ago, and surprisingly I have steadily seen pay decreases each year since the Internet went mainstream.

SO! Forget what websites tell you in rate sheets, and what others tell you. Just let us know:

“What do you charge for things like apps on voice overs?”

“People must be big enough to admit mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. – John C. Maxwell”

2 thoughts on “What do you charge for that app voice over?

  1. I think the most important point is about the Union(s) needed to be ahead of the curve on this. As for anyone thinking the work is “unprofessional” or “not real VO” – money is money. If VO copy goes against your morals or principals (e.g. political ads) then don’t voice it.


  2. I agre with Perry Anne (above) and say also, “Work is Work”. One way I woud charge for this is to determine a cost per word scale and take into consideration that it has the potential of reaching such a mass audience. However, it may not be worth that yet. Like on Shark Tank, trying to give an inflatted value to a company that is not really a company yet.

    It really is at this stage a wait & see type of a new category that the union SHOULD recognise and price accordingly. Once a track record of usuage is defined by time, that fee can be re-evaluated and stated accordingly.

    Time will tell.


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