How To Fix Sliding Voice-Over Rates

Peter Dickson (l) and Hugh Edwards (r)

I usually don’t allow guest posts on my website, but today I am making an exception for Hugh Edwards, CEO & Founder of Gravy for the Brain.

The issue of sliding voice-over rates is pressing and seemed impossible to solve.

The folks at Gravy for the Brain came up with a brilliant, no-cost solution that can make a huge difference in the lives of those who talk for a living.

Click on this link to read Hugh’s article.

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About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs."

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career, Freelancing, International, Money Matters, Pay-to-Play

12 Responses to How To Fix Sliding Voice-Over Rates

  1. Philip Banks

    Definitely still thinking Bond villains, blondes and Shark tanks!

    “SIGNALS TO MARKET” remains my favourite mantra. I’ve made a few videos on the subject, offered to show up at VO Conferences, do sessions on Skype with anyone interested free of charge. Tumbleweed.

    Was I surprised at the spontaneous outpouring of apathy? Not in the least. In religion there are the TV Evangelists and in our world there are the VO Evangelists. For the victims of latter I have made mortgage payments, car payments, helped with medical bills, bought microphones or simply put food on the table. Some are addicted to the VO Evangelists and for those, as in Baseball, I apply the 3 strikes and yer out rule. I’ll happily throw a rope to pull someone out of a hole but they have to agree to stop digging.

    How do things work, sometimes?

    1st May, I am running towards the beach in Portgordon with Bess the Border Collie. Phone rings. I answer. I exchange pleasantries with the boss of a production company. Down to business. He reminds me of a TV commercial I did late in 2018. They made another version using a different voice but the advertiser used my version for longer than agreed. Fine.

    “I’ll send you details by email and you can invoice me for the extra use when you have a minute.”

    I thanked him for the call, wished him a nice afternoon then continued with the run. My guess is that soon someone resident of Portgordon will find my lifeless body on the old railway line but conclude “yeah, but doesn’t he look well!”

    A few days ago around $3,500 landed in my bank account for the extra use payable for the TV commercial. The fee was for the value of the work not the cost.


  2. Philip Banks

    I saw a link to this on Twitter and if we drop the first T we’ll notice that people have decided to witter endlessly about this issue. The real problem is not the people looking for voiceovers is it the voiceovers they trip over on their journey.

    My reply to the Twitter link was as follows.

    “Not true. A saturated market, lack of genuine professional standards or recognised status, the “make money in your pyjamas mentality” and the seismic shift to the “there is more money to made from people wanting to do voiceover work than there is from the work itself.”

    Blame shifting is a terrible thing and the majority of VO people appear to prefer doing that than accept responsibility.

    The article is well intentioned but it is another distraction. The biggest problem facing the voiceover industry today is Voiceovers. I changed the voiceover industry in 2004 by simply changing me and by stopping shaking my fist, usually in the general direction of Canada.

    Have a fabby day and grand weekend!


    Philip Banks Reply:

    With an apologetic, respectful nod to Paul for stealing his ironic book title.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    It is a universal truth that we cannot change other people. We can only change ourselves. That’s why we have laws and regulations in place to keep those who can’t handle that freedom, in check. It’s to protect society from the idiots. Hugh has proposed a mechanism to save us from serial underbidders, ignorant bottom feeders, and everyone undermining a livelihood. To me, that’s not a distraction. It’s a sane response to the cheapening of our work by those who couldn’t care whether or not we make a decent living.


    Philip Banks Reply:

    Agree with the spirit of what Hugh has done and he is to be commended for it but the market will decide how much it will pay and to whom. I will not work for $25 but I know many who would be delighted to get a few jobs per week paying that amount.

    Voiceover people, Coaches, Experts, Gurus, Websites et al enjoy the Amish way of life “Come out from among them and be ye separate”, the majority also embrace “disfellowship the unbeliever” polite for kick ’em out! All that is fine and dandy until the same people have to have a conversation with the man who pays the bill. He needs to hear a story, not a number.

    I regularly get invited to business gatherings to talk about voice over work, speech title The Disembodied Voice. I’m the standup comedian expected to wake everyone up after two hours of “Applied core skills to maximise input growth across IOT platforms” (No, I have no idea either). I tell a story about a TV commercial and why for a couple of hours work it bought me a car not a curry. Did they laugh? Yes. Did they nod? Yes. Do the majority now believe the pay for a TV commercial is a complete rip off? No. To be fair, I not only look like a Bond villain … so they wouldn’t dare say anything to me in person!

    I’m able to point to several thousand rate guides (estimate) Where on an internet is that explanation? People would like to know and have it explained in terms they’ll understand.

    “What’s wrong with being drunk?”

    “Ask a glass of water”


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I’d like you to be the next Bond villain, Philip. I have a feeling you’ll be able to buy more than a car after the movie is shot.

    I like to tell my readers that “the market” is not some weird unidentified object we have no influence over. It’s the sum of thousands of individual decisions, including ours. Every time we decide to do more for less, we send a signal to the market. Hundreds of those signals start having an impact. Thousands become a trend. We can help create that trend, and we can help reverse it.

    Years ago, change started with an African-American woman on a bus refusing to stand up. Her action ignited a movement that transformed American society. Small actions can have great impact, and that gives me tremendous hope.

  3. T Diaz

    Many thanks to you, once again, Paul, for your generosity in sharing what is especially invaluable information at this pivotal time in the VO industry.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Let me, in turn, thank Hugh Edwards and Peter Dickson for taking the next step in the fight for fair rates!


  4. Peter Drew

    Thanks for posting this, Paul. It’s the most important issue facing VO. That and synthetic voices, which are already making inroads into telephony. Actually, a producer I work with told me he’s pretty sure he heard for the first time a few weeks ago a TV spot voiced by a synthetic voice. It was almost perfect except for one or two very slight glitches he caught, which no one except someone with very well-trained ears might hear. Voice-in-a-box is coming quickly, especially for lower paying work, e.g., local radio and TV spots and internal corporate videos. As Hugh Edwards writes in his article: the only constant is change.


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    As long as they don’t find a way to put a heart and a soul into synthetic voices, I’m not so worried. Let machines do the boring jobs. I can’t fault clients for wanting to keep expenses as low as possible. I own a business and I do the same thing. I do find fault with the underbidding talent that does not seem to appreciate and uphold the value of the services they provide.


    Philip Banks Reply:

    I not sure how a synthetic voice (polyester?)can be made to sound like it is making eye contact, holding you close, being impishly charming or in my case about to throw a bikini clad blonde into a Shark Tank. I know, how VERY 1970’s


    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I’m afraid kids growing up today don’t care about making eye contact anymore. They’re glued to a screen and have trouble picking up social cues. You’re still thinking Bond movies with blondes and shark tanks, aren’t you?

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