Building your VoiceOver Business

The Non-Commercial Explosion!

Building your voiceover business, your knowledge, experience and profile takes time and research.

So I want to give you some information that may help you understand the business side of the voiceover world and improve your day-to-day decision-making.

In the non-commercial world (also called non-broadcast) we’re experiencing a rise in the types of work we’re asked to voice.

The way we run our voiceover business must change along with it.

But there’s a big difference between voicing commercial jobs and voicing anything for the non-commercial world.

So let’s talk about what makes those two areas so different.

VoiceOver and the Commercial World

Commercials describe anything that is made for television, radio or internet (including things like Facebook, Spotify and Hulu).

Another way to describe it would be to say that this is ‘paid media’ advertising. 

That is, once the production is complete, in order for the ad to get a run on air (traditionally called ‘broadcast’), media space needs to be bought.

In the commercial world, that’s all about positioning.  The higher the rating of the program – based on how many are watching/listening – the more expensive the media.

In the commercial world, certainly with premium brands, Voiceover artists are respected and valued for the benefit they bring in delivering the brand message on behalf of the advertiser.

When you’re voicing commercials, you’re really trying to get your message across to a ‘half-listening’ audience.

(Audiences don’t really want their music, television programs or browsing interrupted by commercial breaks)  

This is the reason why advertisers pay big money to advertising agencies to…

create meaningful branded content…

and equally find voiceover talent who can make a meal of the meaning in their scripts and help the advertiser build their profile or position.

In this commercial area we have a rate structure and definitions that are built around the:

  • Medium – TV, radio or Internet
  • Duration – for how long will it be on air?
  • Reach –where will it be heard or seen?

It’s worked well for many years and our voiceover fees in this area are accepted. Well, why not?  They offer excellent value to the brand and client.

If you look at commercial rates on the Australian Actors Equity (MEAA) rates page you can see how that structure works.


VoiceOver and the Non-Commercial World

The Non-commercial world however, in regards to rate structures and definitions, gets a little more complicated.

This area for voiceover artist is growing at a rapid rate.  This is good news for voiceover business and voiceover artists.  But it’s not as simple as it seems.

Understanding the nature of what we are doing is crucial.

Currently Australian Equity, in consultation with its members who work in voiceover and their agents, is looking at rates and definitions for the non-broadcast world.  Their intention is to create a rate structure that is fair, equitable and acceptable to all.

So, until that happens (and these things take time) I’d like to help you by giving some perspective to types of work in the non-commercial area and list some definitions to help you when you’re navigating this new – but becoming increasingly important – area of work for us.

Firstly, non-commercial means anything that is made for an individual website, most often that of the business, to be shared with either employees or clients and potential clients, but where no media is bought.

One of the difficulties of understanding the voiceover business is how to charge a correct and fair fee for the work you do.  Currently there are rates for non-commercial in the profession, and good rates.

In Australia for voicing in the non-commercial area, we have one fee, $450, for aninternal company videoand for a corporate video seen on a website by all, $620 is the fee.

*Fees for job requests outside these two tradition non-commercial definitions are currently negotiated on a per job basis.

And while those fees are fair and reasonable for big players, the fees fail to acknowledge the different types of work, and the considerable differences between a small business, with a small market and that of a large national, or multinational company with a huge market.

The truth is, there are small businesses out there who need a voiceover.  But they are not big players and have a small market.

“What’s the fee.” they ask?

Well unless you are informed about how fees are structured and understand the value the voice continues to bring to the clients after the initial recording, you may feel as though you’re flying blind.

You may charge a low rate because of fear of not getting the job.

This practice, is not only bad for the overall erosion of rates, it’s bad for your voiceover business.  Voiceover is a skill and of you’re good enough to get the job, you’re good enough to be paid well for it.

It’s easy to feel a loss of control when you don’t understand the broad spectrum of the work, how it’s to be used and for how long it will be used.

Something you must always ask is, ‘What is it, and where is it being used?  If no media is being bought for this communication it’s non-commercial.

How do we measure reach, or market, for instance? How do we price something that we perceive has a long shelf-life by the very nature of the copy, alongside something that is designed to be for a short period.

In the non-commercial world, even though it’s not a commercial (paid media), those considerations must also be given. 

So let’s define some of the work we are asked to do.


Types of Voiceover Work Defined

Corporate Video:  Any Audio Visual production made for public consumption, such as for inclusion on the company website.

Internal Company Video:  Any Audio Visual production made exactly for in-house use.

Installation Narration:  Created for exhibits or displays in museums, and other public or tourist spaces.

Explainer Videoor Website Landing Page Video: A short, low budget video, often graphics only or basic animation style, made for company website, which explains what product or company does.

E-Learning Video or Program:Any training material designed for in-house, contractor or other educational use not offered for sale.

*Material such as this, which is offered for sale is subject to negotiation.

Product Information Video:  Descriptive product information material designed to be accessed on a single website.

* Where such material appears in paid placement on additional website or other media, it is deemed to be advertising and attracts the advertising rates.

Website Navigation:Simple Instructional video for understanding how to access and navigate complex websites or internal programs.

Research Animatic with Narration:scenarios/ideas for potential advertising campaigns made expressly by ad agency or production company to share with client.

Events Announcer:Pre-Recorded VO for Live Events; Awards Entry and Presentation, Conferences, and Sporting Fixtures etc.

Sizzle Reel / Show Reel:  Demo reel including samples of advertising agency or production house work.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR):  Phone systems which prompt the caller to different departments, sections or people.

Phone Messaging:  On hold phone systems, which answer and put the caller on hold until an operator is available.

Here are some links to pages that give information on rates.  Some of the definitions may differ, but we need to be working toward global acceptance of definitions.

Equity: Commercial rates only

EMVoices: Australian VoiceOver Agent

Global Voice Acting Academy:

Follow them!  And don’t forget, if you’re good enough to get the job, you’re good enough to get paid properly for it.

Happy voiceovering!