A Buyout Fee for Voiceovers: Is This a Good Option?

Now that you have started to book voiceover projects, it’s time to determine how much and how often will you get paid. While some voice actors are paid residual fees, others are compensated through a one-time buyout fee. But how do you know whether a buyout fee for voiceovers is best for you? Here we give you some of the reasons why a buyout may be good or not-so-good for you.

Base-rate and residual payments for union projects

One of the biggest considerations for you as a voice actor is whether you will be working on a union rate or non-union rate. For a union project, you can command a base rate depending on several factors such as the nature of the recording, duration, and airing coverage. In addition, you may be entitled to residual or royalty fees depending on the length of time that the recording will continue to air. This residual payment is done on top of the session fee or base payment.

A fair one-time fee that covers everything

Many voice actors, however, work as independent contractors. If you happen to be one of them, you may be tackling non-union projects and, thus, will be paid a pre-determined rate or negotiated rate. This is what exactly a buyout payment is. One result of a buyout is that you won’t be expecting any residual compensation even if the client will use your recording several times after its initial run. Even so, there are many things you can do to ensure you get paid well.

First, you have to discuss everything with your client — from your basic session rate to any factor that may determine additional charges. The client may propose a budget or you may provide them with your quotation on specific projects. Second, you may negotiate. Sometimes, a negotiation will help in determining a fair rate. The rate, moreover, may vary from one project to another. Commercial works can fetch up to a thousand dollars, while narration projects may be paid by the hour.

Whichever kind of voice over work you do, you have to know which rate works for you and your client. Billing a very minimal amount may make it difficult for you to demand higher fees in the future. If you quote an expensive fee, you are essentially building yourself to be a serious player in the industry. But if this goes any higher, you may end up losing, rather than earning, new clients.

Yes, a buyout fee can be an excellent option if you are a non-union voice actor. However, the more crucial thing to factor in is the amount you will allow for a buyout. Make sure you don’t sell your services for too low or too high! A buyout fee for voiceovers becomes a good option only if you are paid with what you rightfully deserve!