What is Voiceover Usage?
Voiceover Usage fees are the additional fees payable to a Voiceover Artist in order to license the USE of their voice in your content.
"IF YOU WANT TO PLAY,
YOU GOTTA PAY"
What's Involved in a Voiceover Usage Quote?
If you've ever asked a Voiceover Artist for a quotation, you are likely to have received a quotation in two parts. The Basic Session Fee (BSF) and additionally any 'Usage Fees' (or licensing fees) applicable.
Sometimes hirers are surprised to hear that a fee is chargeable for usage. "Why can't we just have a flat fee?" I get it - it's confusing! If it takes the same amount of time (and work!) to record a short internal video as it does a 30 Second TV Commercial, why does the voiceover require extra remuneration for the TVC?
Well...Licensing isn't a new thing, in fact most of us are pretty familiar with the basics of copyright law when it comes to Musicians and Photographers.
Some examples for you:
The company 'Amazon' can't just put a Lady Gaga song on their advert without paying her a fee. Ed Sheeran can't use the chorus of another Musician's work and Media Outlets can't share a photograph without the permission of the photographer who owns the copyright. In all cases above, a License is required from the copyright holder first.
The same applies to Voiceover artists!
While you may hold the copyright for the video visuals and the copyright for the actual script, the Voiceover maintains the copyright to their own performance. It is a legal requirement for a license to be obtained before the voice artist's work can be shared in the public domain.
So is 'Usage' a Flat Fee on top?
Voiceover usage refers to the terms and conditions under which a voice actor's recorded performance (their voice) can be used in various media or contexts. So unfortunately no, as every project and it's requirements are different, Usage isn't as simple as a one-size-fits-all flat fee. But, in its most simple terms: The more eyes and ears that will view the content, the larger the usage fee!
The usage fee calculated typically involves considerations such as:
The Company / Brand Size
Size of Campaign / Audience Reach
Media / Platforms
Company / Brand Size: This is a really important factor because it gives an immediate sense of scale, audience reach and of course BUDGET.
A great example here: Coca Cola Vs Buxton Water. Both are seeking a new TV Commercial. Whilst both drinks brands have a similar project, their audience reach is vastly different.
Size of Campaign / Audience Reach: This defines how many people are expected to hear or see the content featuring the voiceover. In the case of Television or Online advertising campaigns, Impressions and TVC's will be taken into consideration when providing a quotation.
Duration: Usage agreements specify the length of time the voice recording can be utilised. It could be for a single use, a limited-time marketing campaign, or an ongoing, indefinite use.
Geographic Reach: Some voiceovers are intended for use in specific regions, while others are for broader national or international markets. The geographic extent influences the usage fee.
Media and Platforms: This outlines the types of media and platforms where the voiceover will be employed. This may encompass television, radio, online videos, video games, audiobooks, event usage and more.
What about Buyouts and In-Perpetuity?
Buyouts and In-Perpetuity are two slightly different things.
A buyout can be 'All Rights' or it can be for a 'Specific Usage.' I have previously granted buyouts for 'Organic Online Usage Only.' This means that a client can place a video on their website and social media channels indefinitely. I won't be sending them an email in a few years time looking for a contract renewal or for them to remove the content entirely. Whilst giving the client that freedom, I have specified that the license is just for organic online purposes. They are in breach of contract if they use it for anything else such as Broadcast Usage. This deal usually goes down extremely well with clients not requiring any broadcast usage.
The mention of 'In Perpetuity' or 'All Rights Buyout' however, can often make a Voiceover Artist run a mile. That is simply because of the huge list of unknowns ahead. Let's have a quick (and pretty extreme) example to make it really clear.
A well known UK bank have chosen a voiceover artist to record a 2 minute script for a video to be placed on their website. The video production company request from the artist an all-rights in perpetuity buyout to make the quotation 'much easier.' The voiceover grants this and quotes...£500 let's say?
A few months go by and the video is getting great feedback from customers and the banking client loves the voiceover so much that they decide it would be great for use in Online Adverts. Then a National TV and Radio Commercial. Lastly, a small section of the recording is 'lifted' from the original and used in an International commercial campaign...Well that spiralled fast.
The voiceover is left feeling pretty dejected that for £500 their work is being used in such a huge International campaign for a recognised brand...
The cherry on the cake comes however when another financial institution approaches the voiceover artist for a Commercial campaign. They require EXCLUSIVITY, however...In this case, the voiceover artist cannot grant that exclusivity. They are forever tied to the first bank's campaign because of the In-Perpetuity agreement.
That agreement may mean that they never work for another Bank again...
So what's the answer? A Voiceover Artist will always prefer to grant a 3 - 5 year Usage License term. You can always renew it if you need to, but chances are your content may not be relevant in a few years time. The world moves so fast these days!
If you're looking for ease and long term security, speak with your preferred voice artist. They may be happy to consider 'In-Perpetuity' for smaller non-broadcast projects. It's important that you know however, it is likely to cost you more than a shorter fixed-term license.
Handy Resources for Calculating Usages in the UK
The Gravy For the Brain Rate Guide - This guide was set up to protect industry rates for Voiceover professionals in the UK. It also includes the agreed rates of the British Actors Union Equity.
Usefee.tv - Used to calculate Television Usage Rates in the UK
4 minute Licensing Explainer video by Co-Founder of Gravy For The Brain, Hugh Edwards.
Basic Session Fee + Usage = A Happy Voiceover Artist
I hope that this has helped to clarify the subject of Voiceover Usage.
The truth is, like most things in life - you get what you pay for! Hiring an experienced, highly trained, professional Female Voiceover Artist will get you the best results for your business. Quality is always worth paying for.
Reach out today for a free sample of your script and to discuss your next project: email@example.com