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What usage and distribution rights do I need?

What are voiceover usage and distribution rights and how do I figure out what I need?


Voiceover usage and distribution is one of the most if not THE most important factors in determining the cost of voiceover. Why? Think of it the same way as advertising pricing goes; the larger the market and wider the reach, the more it costs to broadcast it. The more eyes and ears the content reaches, the more money you need to pay to get it there — the same thing goes for voiceover.


What if I am not broadcasting my project?

Then you’re paying for the recording itself, based on its length/duration and how long you’ll be using it i.e. 6 weeks, 1 year, or forever… This usually falls under either social media, internal, corporate, training etc. BUT if you ask for in perpetuity but do not agree upon broadcast at the time of the agreement and then decide to broadcast it later, that is extremely unfair to the voiceover talent as they aren’t getting paid for the usage. This is why many voiceover artists will refuse to hand over full rights to their work. The best practice for you if you decide to broadcast the spot at a later date is to reach back out to the voiceover artist and renegotiate their contract.


Radio, TV, and web (including podcasts) are the different categories of broadcast you may need. Each one has its own standard rates based on the market size and length of usage. For industry standard-based rates check out this link for a full breakdown.


What if I want full rights for usage and distribution in perpetuity?

Then be prepared to pay for it. Experienced professional voiceover talent may not even agree to rights in perpetuity as in short - this is a request to sign their voice away. If they are willing, the rate is usually high as the actor assumes you will be using the voiceover for a large market indefinitely and thus they should be paid as if such usage will take place. If this is what you need then go for it, but be prepared to pay a lot for this type of buyout OR work with inexperienced talent who may not be able to give you what you need.

What if I still don’t know what my usage and distribution will be? Then negotiate the different possibilities that it can be instead of simply asking for full rights. This may take a little more time, but it’s the best way to ensure that you aren’t overpaying for usage and distribution you may not need (i.e. full rights in perpetuity) and that you have a fair and agreed upon game plan in place to fairly compensate your voiceover talent as needed.

I hope this helped you understand the usage and distribution of voiceover more clearly, and why it's so important to be respectful of them. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

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