Cost of being a voice actor.
What’s the cost to become a voice actor?
As more and more want to join the ranks of “being a voice actor” I hear a question quite often, “How much did it cost to become a voice actor?”
The inner workings…
Many factors come into play to answer this; such as personal goals, mindset, business plan, location, justification, and so on. Let’s look at some of the areas in which professional voice actors invest.
- Your time and dedication. $ value (your time) = priceless (Time never comes back use it wisely)
- $49 per class to thousands for (coaching and classes from reputable coaches in the industry) *also an ongoing cost- never stop learning*
- $900 to $3000 for professional demos (per genre and keeping them updated) *Also an ongoing cost *
- $500 to $2,000 for reliable PC or Mac for recording and editing.
- $120 to $200 for monitor unless using a laptop or a pre-bundled build
- $199 to $4,000 Microphone (for a studio quality mic)
- $15 to $100 Mic stand (don’t skimp on this, it holds a good chunk of change at the top)
- $99 to $400 Reputable USB interface
- $99 to $300 Reputable mixer
- $149 to $300 for a decent pair of external monitors
- $50 to $200 for headphones (ear buds need not apply)
- $60 to $150 various cables (XLR cables, power cords, USB cables, backups, etc.)
- $70 to $300 back up drive for client recordings, libraries, auditions, etc.
- $15 to $50 Music stand
- $1600 to $9,000 Vocal booth (or at least a well treated recording space)
Software a must…
- $0 to $2,000 DAW for recording and editing
- $0 to $2000 Source Connect, IPDTL, Skype, ISDN, etc.… (can be an ongoing subscription cost also)
Not to mention …
- $100 to $200 Printer/Scanner
- $10 to $100 Business cards
- $75 USB storage thumb drives
- $500 for other odds and ends
- $1,000 to $2,500 eventually for a laptop or tablet for recording on the move.
And of course, ongoing costs…
- $49 to thousands (coaching and classes from reputable coaches in the industry)
- $900 to $3000 Demos (per genre and keeping them updated)
- $50 to $100 Internet (per month)
- $40 to $180 Cellphone/data (per month)
- $160 to $300 Electricity
- $50 to $200 paper, ink, pens, pencils, etc…
- $500 to thousands (Website, domain names, and marketing)
This is just an over view of some of the basic costs needed to run a professional voice over business. These prices can vary widely but there are ways to reduce cost. You may possibly already own a computer that’s reliable and can handle the task of recording and editing. You might have a closet loaded with clothes to act as your booth. You may cut out the cost of software and start with open source software like Audacity or use a DAW like Reaper that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Look into used gear for mics and interfaces from reputable places like other trusted voice artists, on VO-BB blog, or used gear from Sweetwater. Remember to justify your costs if your new to the industry, as all the costs can add up. You still want to make sure you have enough money to pay bills, eat, and most importantly take care of yourself and your family. Now on to other costs….
Cost of financial security…
As great as being a voice actor is, and trust me I wouldn’t have it any other way, it has its ups and downs financially. When first getting into the industry, even after proper training and demos, you may not have income come in for weeks, months, or possibly the first few years until you grow as a talent, make a name for yourself, and build your base of clientele. You may even have to postpone plans or vacations to pay for training or cover other bills, don’t forget YOU wanted to become a voice actor, an entrepreneur! After all financial cost of investments have been calculated don’t forget about the other cost that doesn’t come down to the almighty dollar.
You want to call yourself a voice actor, keyword.. actor. Actors live in the creative world. As mentioned you will have financial hills to climb in the beginning which can be stressful, which in turn starts your cost in emotions. You will have an emotional roller coaster. You will have doubt, hurt internally, second guess, moments of excitement, pure joy, and yup even break down and cry at some point. Yes guys, its OK to cry, you’re human too! It happens to all of us at some point. Remember to handle this as best as you can. Talk to someone if you feel overwhelmed. If you don’t have family, call a friend. Heck, email me if you like. I like to think of all the voice actors as one big family. Yeah we may not always get along, but hey, what family does? But we do watch out for each other. Try not to let the emotions take hold of you and most importantly don’t lash out at your friends and family based on them.
Being a voice actor you are by yourself a lot. You will work until the wee hours of the night at times and will have sessions that overlap friend’s events. You will even work on Sundays. Some of your friends will not understand this as they are not starting their own company as you are. They will slowly drift from you and start hanging out with other people, it’s simply a fact. Other friends may fully understand, keep those friends close to your heart, they don’t come along often. If you have a wife, husband, or children your business will affect them too. Please take their thoughts and emotions into consideration, make sure to carve out time for them.
Yup, that’s right, lots of time – training, improving skills, tracking down leads, auditioning, learning to edit audio, making contacts, cold calling, marketing, creating demos, etc.. Not to mention a loss of sleep.
In the end…
There you have just a small glimpse into what it costs to be a voice actor. If by the end of this, the costs are worth it to you, (you’re determined, persistent, dedicated, thick skinned, fun-loving, and hopped up on coffee) then by all means, welcome to the VO family!
Jeremi Tigue – Voice Actor
Photos credited to Pexel.