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How Well Do You Negotiate Voice Over
Fees? 10 Rules To Get What You Deserve
October 9, 2013

By Roger King
Voice Over Talent Agent

Iím an agent, which means there is one consistent activity I do over and over, each and every work day. I know youíre thinking gin is somehow involved, but actually Iím referring to negotiating and making a deal.

I am fairly certain that if I Googled this topic, it would lead me to hundreds of different articles and blogs on "the art of the deal,Ē etc. And there are certain generic things to keep in mind that are applicable to deal making in most any industry.

But this is a voice over article, and I am a voice over agent, so my tips below are as specific as they can be for the voice over industry.

Iíve heard from many who are still uncomfortable with certain aspects of negotiating, and in some cases prefer someone else do it, or at the very least, feel like theyíre still getting their feet wet in terms of developing a deal-making skill set.

So, I am here to help! Without further ado, I present:

10 Rules for Doing a Successful Voice Over Deal

1. Try to get the client to name a price first.

I canít count the number of times Iíve gotten more money than I thought for a job just by keeping my mouth shut for an extra 30 seconds.

Iím thinking of $1,000 for the rate for the TV spot, but I ask the client what heís thinking first and he says, "The budget is only $1500.″ An extra $500 for exercising patience.

2. Be willing to say no, without hyperventilating.

You simply cannot rule out the possibility of turning down a job if you donít like the terms. Once you can confidently tell yourself that youíre okay if you donít get the job, you will be much stronger in negotiations.

3. Be clear and succinct about how you arrived at your price.

Itís tougher to defend if youíre just making up numbers out of thin air. Itís much easier to stick to your guns if you can articulate why your rate is what it is in the first place.

4. Assume the best of your negotiation partner until they give you legitimate reasons not to.

A good deal usually does benefit both parties; there is no reason to assume that someone doesnít want to pay a fair price, or is out to cheat you.

5. Be flexible but know your limits.

Have a price range in mind and stick within your range. A client may ask you to accept a lower rate because the budget is legitimately low on this project or he is promising volume.

Some flexibility on price is needed in some cases.

6. Learn how to write.

Any deal, however small, is going to be done in writing. If you canít be clear, concise and use proper punctuation, it might be tough going for you.

7. Take a breath and make sure youíve covered everything before agreeing to a deal.

Have you addressed common issues related to voice sessions? Studio and editing charges? Cost for revisions?

Whatís the scenario if it turns out to be more recorded audio than the client first envisioned?

8. Assess the character.

Some deals end up being "Get the main details down and cross the Tís and dot the Iís later.Ē

If you feel comfortable with the person, thatís usually a fine approach. If the client seems disorganized or writes in all capitals, you probably need to take charge early and get every last detail in writing before you record a word.

9. Call clients on their vagueness. Politely.

"Can you tell me what you mean by, ĎItís just going to air in small marketsí?Ē or "The script is almost the same in all of the variations. Itís just the first section that changes so itís really only one spot.Ē

You cannot be afraid to demand full clarification.

10. Donít accept bad behavior.

One of my agency mottos is: The client is not always right.

Along with being willing to say "no" because you donít like the terms of the deal (#2), certainly be willing to say "no" or at least stand your ground on a price if the client is not approaching the negotiation like a decent human being.

One tip if the deal doesnít work out: Always remember to italicize the phrase, "Iíll see you in court.Ē Much more effective.
Roger King is the president of Peformance Network (PN) Agency, which provides voice over talent to the radio, television, film, multi-media and animation industries. In 2004, he launched a sister agency, Ethnic Voice Talent (EVT), and now represents over 100 voice over talents and translators in more than 15 different languages. He also writes a lively and informative blog, Voice Over Canada.

PN Agency:
Ethnic Voice Talent: 

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Comments (2)
Jim Conlan
10/9/2013 at 11:53 AM
Concise, accurate, and very helpful, Roger. This is one of those lists I wouldn't mind sharing with everyone I coach... including myself. I would add one more thought regarding "low-budget" projects. Don't be fooled into doing something "for the exposure," or with a promise that the "next one will have a better budget." In most cases you will be labeled as "the cheap one." That's if they remember you at all. When they have a better budget they will go with the better-budget voice.
Rebecca Michaels Haugh aka LoveThatRebecca
10/9/2013 at 7:25 AM
I think Roger is spot on - as we would expect, right, him being an agent and with wonderful deep experience in negotiations of just this kind.

I appreciate Roger's advice immensely and will print this article and keep it handy. I love how he expresses the 'nerves' we all feel when in the negotiation - about breathing!! Perfect.

I have an interview waiting to be aired and it's with Roger. You'll all be able to check it out later in October 2013 via and hear much more from Roger. I know I'm plugging my interview show but I feel like it's relevant because it's Roger! So I'll stay tuned here (as I always am) and you stay tuned for the interview?! KK?! :)
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