top of page
  • Writer's pictureTom Dheere

Voiceovers And Scratch Tracks, Part 2 – The Not Silent Blog 10/13/20

Last week we talked about listening to scratch tracks. This week let’s talk about narrating scratch tracks.

What’s the difference between scratch tracks, auditions, demos, and pitches?

Like I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post and this one, there is little agreement on voiceover vocabulary so we need to sort it out.

Scratch Tracks: we defined this in last’s week’s blog but here it is again:

Scratch tracks are used as a placeholder to assist in the timing of a video so the producer knows how much time they have to display certain visuals.

Auditions: I think we all can agree on what an audition is but I’ve heard the term “paid audition”, too which can be synonymous with demos, pitches, and scratch tracks.

Demos: we’re not talking about a genre-based voiceover demo that a voice actor uses to submit to voice seekers and post on casting sites. We’re talking about a voice seeker creating a demonstration where the voice actor’s narration is a placeholder until the project is given the green light. Sometime the original voice actor is used, sometimes not.

Pitches: this usually means a presentation so a production company, marketing firm, ad agency, etc. can win an account/project/gig. Sounds similar to the definition of demo, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.


Scratch tracks, auditions, demos, and pitches can mean exactly the same thing to different voice seekers. This is why this particular topic is so damn confusing!

If you get a request from a voice seeker to record a scratch track, audition, demo, or pitch and you’re not sure what they mean: ASK! There is no shame in asking. You will not lose a gig because you asked a voice seeker how they define scratch tracks.

How much to charge? It varies wildly. Here’s what the GVAA Rate Guide says:

The SAG-AFTRA Commercial Contract says that an audition cannot be used as a demo, audience reaction commercial, or scratch track unless the voice actor gets paid the minimum Commercial Contact rate.

In my experience, I’ve been paid around $300 or so to record scratch tracks/demos/pitches. Some voice actors charge the full project rate based on genre and length. You can also just charge your typical session fee aka “turning on the mic” fee.

As to usage, scratch tracks are supposed to be used internally only so don’t charge a usage fee. If the gig turns into a commercial that actually airs, then you can tack on the usage fee but make sure you establish that upfront.


Thursday, October 22nd @8PM EST: My next Edge Studio Marketing 201 webinar will be ‘What Your Website Says About You’. In this one-hour webinar, we’ll talk about how your website can help you gain or lose clients without you ever knowing it. This webinar caps at 25 attendees and sells out fast. Click here to sign up!

Saturday, October 24th @1:30 PM EDT: Johnny Heller’s NEW ENGLAND VIRTUAL NARRATOR RETREAT 2020. I will talk about Time Management and Workflow. There will be many amazing audio book narrators, coaches, and publishers. It’ll be swell! Learn more and sign up here.

November 6-8: Mini-MAVO is getting closer! This year I will be presenting “Rates, Negotiating, and Billing”. Sign up here!



Tom Dheere is a voice actor who has narrated thousands of projects for hundreds of clients in over a dozen countries. In addition to voice acting, he is a voiceover business and marketing consultant known as the VOStrategist. When not voicing or talking about voicing, Tom produces the comic book “Agent 1.22”. You can subscribe to his weekly blog and the monthly VO Strategist Learnin’ Stuff Notice here.


bottom of page