The typical pricing approach used by many professional voiceover narrators seems to be stuck in the past – based on the radio/TV broadcast model that required expensive studio time and union performers. Non-broadcast clients expect a lower cost approach to creating voiceover for small audience presentations, such as elearning.
Hourly rates based on how much time it takes in a studio to complete a project are obsolete in the era of low cost PC-based recording systems. Going into a “studio” for recording voiceover is no longer necessary for the majority of projects, when you can record great quality files using a PC-based recording system in an office-based dedicated recording environment (with some attention to soundproofing, etc.).
Having to submit a script to get a rate quote also seems to be overly cumbersome and opaque for non-broadcast elearning, online projects, or corporate videos.
Voiceover artists should be able to post rates in a transparent manner – rates based on duration, pages, or words – like other types of media production services. Producers need this information – judgments should be based on price, quality and level of service. And the voiceover artist can always adjust their quoted typical rate if an initial review of the script indicates that the project is overly complex, or requires additional time to complete. And you can use a traditional pricing model for broadcast.
I know that the old school narrators deride this approach as a race to the bottom in rates (which is true, but unfortunately seems to be inevitable), but this approach is likely going to be the future for this and many other media production services. And there will still be producers and projects that require a higher level of quality that will support a traditional approach and more traditional rates.