Saturday, 13 August 2011

When is a cheap voiceover too cheap?

A few days ago I received this enquiry about voiceover work:

"I am ****, working as an e-learning Project Leader in a company named ********** in India. We have got some content to be recorded for on-line purpose in neutral English accent. The recorded audio file must be a fully edited audio in MP3 format. This e-learning content would be a minimum of 100 to 125 pages of a word file with a font size of 12 point. This is a project for poor children education and so our overall estimation for Voice over talent is 25,000 to 27,000 thousand in Indian rupees. If you’re interested to take up this project, kindly revert me back. Reply me, as soon as possible."

I know that E-Learning voiceovers don't often pay as well as advertising or even corporate voiceovers but 27 000 rupees sounded like a lot of money - but it's only about £350. Anyway I thought I would be interested in this job so I asked the client to send the script or word count so that I could work out if it would be worth while. I received this reply:

"Thanks for responding. Hereby, I have attached a sample content file for your reference. Please do a demo recording for the same and send it back to us ASAP. Kindly send your payment mode so that after hearing to your demo audio, our Executive Director will contact you through phone. Kindly provide me your file transfer mode."

Hmm. I had a look at the document containing the voiceover script that they had attached to their email. There were 585 words on one page. 125 pages. That makes a whopping 73,000 words.

I reckon I can record about 4,000 words in an hour. So that's 18 hours in the studio to just record the voiceover. So how long would that take to edit? Say 9 hours. Even longer if it's badly written.

How much paper would I use to print the script? How long would it take to upload the file (albeit only MP3) to the FTP server? Conservative estimate 30 hours in all. So that's about 4 days.

£350. 4 days. So that's £85 per day. We pay our least experienced voiceover artists more than that per hour!

Sadly I had to decline this particular voiceover job.