Friday, 14 February 2014

When are Usage Fees charged for Voiceovers?


When our clients book a Voiceover Artist for a session they paying us for the Basic Session Fee (or BSF) which includes the fee due to the artist plus our studio costs (studio time/studio engineer/editing etc.) 

This gives you very limited rights to where you can use the Voiceover recording. Once the audio appears in public there is normally a usage fee to pay.

The Voiceover Artist always retains the copyright to their recordings. This is never owned by a third party; it is just licensed for use on certain areas (website, DVD, radio or TV etc) for a certain period of time. This time period can range from a few months on a local radio station to forever for a phone app, for example.  

For in-house use, internal staff training videos, intranet sites or trade shows, no usage charged. This is because this is not deemed to be for public use. 

As soon as a voiceover recording is accessed by the public there is additional usage to pay. However, often the licence fee is small. Sometimes this can be waived if the audio is just an instructional video, for a public information film, an educational tutorial, a video on how to use a specialist type of drug or a charity video or viral message.

However, a usage fee - often substantial  - would be charged for the use of voiceovers on computer games, on games machines found in pubs, automatic supermarket checkouts and internet adverts (as opposed to product videos on the internet.) 

Usage on DVDs which are for sale (eg a fitness workout DVD) will be dependent on the number of copies that have been sold or are expected to sell or on a percentage of profits.

There are also promotional films with corporate branding which are intended for online use  - the usage would depend on where they are to be used and for how long.

A buyout is where we, on behalf of the voice artist, we receive a further payment in return for the rights to use that recording in perpetuity. These vary hugely from one project to another

As well as usage, Voiceover Agents also talk about Royalties. These are mainly restricted to TV commercials. The idea is that any additional payment is linked to the number of times that the commercial (and therefore the voiceover) is broadcast, as well as how many people see the advert and therefore hear the voiceover.

There is also usage to pay for the rights to use voiceovers on Radio or TV commercials. For TV, this only applies to - what used to be referred to as - the "terrestrial" TV channels ie: ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. 

The smaller TV channels (cable and satellite channels) - especially those with the higher numbers on your TV normally attract a buyout (a flat fee.)  


Usage doesn't apply to TV documentaries but the recording fees tend to be higher as the programmes are often repeated and sold to TV stations around the world.     

In the end, it's always down to a matter of negotiation between the client and the Voiceover Artist and this is where the Voiceover Agent earns their keep.