Audio Artists are a vital part of the creative workforce, whether they work on Audiobooks, Commercials, Videogames, ADR, Radio Drama, or any of the other diverse areas of this field.
You deserve to be paid well, to be treated with dignity and respect as professionals, and to have your performers' rights protected.
Every day we support members by resolving workplace issues and enforcing our existing agreements. Working with our Audio Committee, we have also delivered various initiatives to strengthen the industry. For example, we:
- Agreed the UK’s first ever-union agreement for voicing videogames to establish an industry standard best practice contract.
- Created a Template Contract for Voiceover Artists to empower members to protect their legal rights and negotiate decent terms and conditions.
- Launched diversity initiatives with major companies such as Audible to improve diversity in audio and voice work.
- Published an audio guide to offer insight and advice on what to expect from Audio work.
- Worked with the casting community to educate producers and engagers about best practice and fair pay.
- Spearheaded our Stop AI Stealing the Show campaign, calling on the government to protect Audio Artists from the potential impact of artificial intelligence.
However, unethical employment practices continue to undermine the legitimacy of professional audio work. This includes a recent and controversial TikTok competition from a major corporate giant which caused widespread concern across the voiceover community, particularly within the context of the current cost of living crisis. We met with Tesco and while it did not result in an immediate cessation of the competition, as we might have hoped, we made clear that professional work should always be fairly compensated. We will continue to call out bad employment practices. However, we need all Audio members to join Equity and work together to tackle exploitation, stamp out poor pay and strengthen the industry going forward.
The challenge we face is that many areas of the audio industry remain resistant to the benefits of collective bargaining. We cannot set rates of pay outside of the few agreements we have in place, such as the BBC Radio Audio Agreement and our Games Agreement. This stands in stark contrast with other areas of the entertainment industry, such as film and TV, where collective bargaining is the norm. Within this context, it is increasingly common for Audio Artists to be presented with take it or leave it contracts and asked to waive their moral rights and authorship entirely. Securing collective agreements with the major audio producers and engagers is the most effective way we can protect members, increase rates of pay and combat weak contracts. Finally, legal rights for performers have not kept pace with the rapid development of technology and we have a government that is actively prioritising the interest of technology companies to the detriment of the creative workforce.
- Producers and engagers across all areas including Audiobooks, Videogames, Radio Commercials and Audio Drama must engage with the union, come to the table to negotiate collective agreements and pay our members a professional wage that reflects their skill and talent.
- Agents should not accept poor pay and bad contracts and should use Equity’s template contract as the industry standard.
- Government must update the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988) and introduce a new suite of intellectual property rights for performers, including synthetised performance rights, moral rights, and image rights.
What can Audio Artists do?
We need all Audio Artists to work together to implement structural change for the industry. Here are ten things you can do:
- Join Equity. Be part of a movement making the entertainment industry a better place to work.
- Complete our survey to provide feedback on our Action Plan and shape the priorities of the union going forward.
- Sign up to our bespoke mailing list for Audio Artists for more information about how you get involved.
- Be part of our negotiation process. You are a key tool to bridge the gap between audio companies and the Union. If you have a good relationship with a producer or publishing company, encourage them to engage with Equity about agreed terms and conditions.
- When a contract is not provided, work with your agent to use Equity’s Template Contract for Voiceover Artists. Familiarise yourself with the terms, what your rights are and how to assert them.
- When a contract is provided, advocate for similar terms to those outlined in Equity best practice contracts, such as our Videogames Agreement.
- Say NO to poor pay and buyouts in perpetuity and push for ongoing payments. Report bad deals to Equity and encourage others to do the same. Put pressure on your agent to negotiate good rates of pay.
- Talk to other Audio Artists and be open about what producers and engagers are paying. Share examples of good practice and similarly who to avoid.
- Use Equity’s template to lobby your local MP to support our Stop AI Stealing the Show campaign.
- Contact Liam Budd, our Industrial Official for Audio & New Media, at email@example.com if you have any questions related to audio and the work of the union.
Provide feedback on our Action Plan and shape the priorities of the union going forward.