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“You Blew It!” The Art Of The Voiceover Retake – The GKN Weekly Update 8/27/13

I am fortunate to have great clients. I have many “regulars” who send me a steady stream of gigs and I am eternally grateful. One of the reasons why things tend to go smoothly most of the time is strong, open lines of communication. You’ve heard me talk about the “You hired me? Awesome!” message that I send to all new clients so we’re both on the same page and there are no surprises. One of the most important parts of that letter is the dreaded Retake Policy aka Pickups, Re-Records, or Revisions. You know, the “What happens when somebody screws up?” part of the program.

“You blew it!”

It’s the part of the voiceover industry that nobody looks forward to and everybody hopes doesn’t happen, but it does.

Why do retakes happen? It could be for a number of reasons:

  1. You made a mistake and you didn’t catch it (i.e. a mispronunciation, you swap in or swap out a word)

  2. There’s a pop, click, bump, phone ring, parrot squawk, trumpet solo, etc. in the recording that can’t be removed in post

  3. The client misspelled something but it made sense when you read it aloud (or it didn’t but you read it anyway!)

  4. The client wants to make a change in the script after you’ve recorded it (for informative or legal reasons)

BTW in my personal vocabulary; if I screw up, it’s a retake. If they screw up or want to make a change, it’s a revision. For the record, it doesn’t matter! If it needs to get fixed, fix it. Don’t play the blame game. Everybody loses!


How do you make retakes as painless as possible?

Communicate your Retake Policy BEFORE you start recording! I have learned that it can be a deal-breaker. If you don’t tell them what your Retake Policy is at the beginning, they may not have a budget for retakes or they may refuse to pay you to do them.

Make sure your Retake Policy is clear and comprehensive. Here’s mine:

  1. A single round of revisions requested by the client (e.g. a single word/sentence adjustment, emphasis, tone, pronunciation) is included

  2. Major revisions (e.g. adjusted/added sections of script greater than one line, but less than 50% of the total script) are $50 each

  3. Total re-reads (greater than 50% adjusted) $100

BTW I don’t charge for audio book retakes since the pay is per finished hour and I’ve never heard of anyone who does. Because of an experience I had just this week (which inspired this conversation), I’m adding new items to my Retake Policy:

  1. When sending the list of retakes, do not list just the word or phrase that needs to be re-recorded. List the full sentence as well as the sentence before and the sentence after.

  2. If applicable, include the time index of the video where the retake is required so tone and pace can be matched.


Happy Lyndon Baines Johnson Day! I didn’t know Presidents’ birthdays besides Lincoln and Washington were officially observed, but this holiday is observed in Texas only. So what do you Texans do to celebrate LBJ Day, anyway?



My best friend Carly Johnstone will be performing as a Moth storyteller at the Tour de Fat (sponsored by Fat Tire Beer) on Saturday August 31 in Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s a parade, party, festival, and concert all rolled up into one. If you live in the area, go. You will have the time of your life!

From Tom Dheere’s apartment, this is Tom Dheere: GKN News…


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