Campaigning for Changes in the Law

At this year’s Special Representatives Conference, the Audio Committee proposed a motion, requesting that Equity join other unions and industry bodies calling for equitable remuneration rights in streamed and online media to be included in the UK Copyright Act. The motion was passed unanimously, committing Equity to actively campaigning for this.

The wording of the motion and the amendment from the Screen & New Media Committee (which also passed), can be found here (Page 10):

To understand what this means and why we believe it’s of such great importance for our members we have posted below the full text of the speeches made by Committee members Marcus Hutton, proposing the motion, and Cameron McGarva, seconding. They worked together to ensure that both speeches complemented one another without being repetitive in nature or content.

With thanks to both of them.


This motion concerns the lack of usage payments for audio performers when their work is commercially exploited online

During the last 18 months a great number of members have built home recording studios in the hope of picking up some audio work to keep themselves afloat – from commercials and corporate video to audio books and e-learning narration. Many are unrepresented by audio-specific agents and have looked to job sites like ACX,, Voice 123 etc to seek auditions and work. A large percentage of the jobs advertised are for flat fees with many not mentioning usage at all. It is not possible to bargain with employers for these jobs which are offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis regardless of the amount of exploitation their recordings will receive. There is little or no transparency about the reach or financial scope of the projects and, of course for every one person who says no to a job on principle there are another 99 who will say yes.

While UK performers have a statutory right to equitable remuneration for the broadcast of pure sound recordings under UK copyright law , no such provision exists for streamed content. In this digital age the majority of spoken word audio content is streamed. Advertising spend online now exceeds the spend on traditional broadcast media.

At the beginning of the year, a government enquiry into the economics of music streaming took place. The final recommendation from the enquiry-committee’s report to government was that the existing statutory remuneration right in music recordings be extended to streamed content. It is quite ridiculous that the right exists for one system of communication to the public, but not for another.

Record labels, the musicians union, prominent musicians, collecting societies and online platforms all gave evidence. Equity could, and we believe should, have made their presence felt at this enquiry. Spoken word audio, particularly audio books and podcasts – sectors that are worth hundreds of millions of pounds, were not mentioned once. No one from Equity piped up to say “don’t forget about us”.

Spoken word audio artists, unlike their TV, theatre and film acting counterparts, have very few collective agreements to protect them. There are no collective bargaining agreements for audio books. There are no collective agreements for e-learning , for online video advertising, corporate videos, explainer videos, video games, animation, telephony., apps. The likelihood of there ever being collective agreements in the majority of these sectors is, in the Audio Committee’s opinion, small to non existent .

Amazon who owns Audible will not even discuss a collective agreement; the games companies don’t want to pay anything for usage; the commercials dispute still continues after twenty years although there are some signs of a thaw the IPA still refuse to have a formal agreement. A host of advertisers outside the IPA do not even belong to a trade association.

Due to Brexit the UK did not have to implement the EU Copyright Directive. It came into force this June and has granted our European counterparts rights which greatly enhance individual bargaining positions. It has also replaced ‘equitable remuneration’ with ‘Appropriate and proportionate remuneration’. Proportionate being the important word. EU performers now have the right to transparency in their negotiations – they must be told the expected platforms for the work at the negotiating stage and the expected reach; large employers will have to provide details of how the work was exploited at least once a year. European performers also have the right to revisit their contracts where it can be proved that initial payments were ‘disproportionately low ‘. These rights cover streamed content.

We are in danger, in the UK, of becoming the poor relation in the digital arena when it comes to performer’s rights . Without collective agreements our audio members need the safety net of the law to improve their individual bargaining positions with employers. The Intellectual Property Office is currently in a period of consultation over the Beijing Treaty and it is NOW that we need to be making some noise on this issue. Please vote for this motion so that action is taken before it is too late.

Marcus Hutton


Marcus has talked about the legalities of the ratification of the Beijing Treaty and why the Audio Committee urges Council to take action. I would like to expand on what he touched upon, and that is the very human element of the need to protect the rights of audio artists in the UK.

Establishing and then sustaining a career as an actor, audio performer or however you identify is no mean feat. We belong to an industry steeped in uncertainty, a lack of security and risk so any way that further protection of our rights as artists can be secured surely can only be a positive step forward. You may of course not identify as an audio performer and feel that this does not affect you, we would argue that it may well do in the future. To offer an example of such, a theatre producer colleague cited her difficulties to me as she is now very much working in the audio world, employing actors in audio plays and podcasts, most of which will be streamed online. She spoke of not knowing where to turn in terms of ensuring those very actors were remunerated correctly and rightly, the notion of having a solid legal framework in which to base their contracts struck her as being vital to ensuring the longevity of such work and of course avoiding exploitation of those she was seeking to employ.

We have seen a proliferation of home studios, partly in response to the Covid-19 pandemic but also in part as our industry landscape is changing and it is changing now and fast. There are more and more people engaging in audio work, not just those who would traditionally call themselves voiceover artists and so we have a duty to ensure they have the knowledge and protection to prevent them from financial exploitation. The audio world is a minefield, even to those who have worked within it for many years. We face daily challenges when our clients continue to drive down the remuneration for our services and it is a very worrying time. Flat fees are becoming common place and just taking a look at the casting breakdowns on the various sites such as Mandy, Voice123, ACX,, Bodalgo and Fiverr you can see how without intervention artists will continue to be at the mercy of employers seeking their talent but not willing to appropriately pay for it.

Without statutory streaming rights the ratification of the Beijing Treaty will amount to very little as so much of the work that audio artists do is online. Established artists will be the poor cousin of our European counterparts and upcoming artists will merely flounder or never quite get off on the right footing. We urge council to campaign for streaming rights as a part of the copyright reform for performers. We, the Audio Committee ask that you support this motion wholeheartedly. Thank you.

Cameron McGarva

On the BBC R4 decision to cut the 15′ drama weekday mornings

This week, R4 made the announcement that they would be extending Woman’s Hour to a full hour. This “extension” means cutting yet another of the diminishing number of slots devoted to drama.

Many people have taken to Social Media to express their dismay; among them is Caroline Raphael, a former Head of Radio Drama, who spoke of her “anger at the continuing erosion of Audio Drama on the BBC”.

Audio Committee Chair, Sheila Mitchell, has long been campaigning to Save Radio Drama. She has written the below as a first – but most definitely not last – response to the latest cuts.

One and a half cheers for Caroline Raphael. Sorry not to be more enthusiastic but Woman’s Hour losing its drama slot is not the problem which should be exercising any of us who care about BBC Radio. That problem is TV.

Once that was invented what had sparkled as a massive jewel in Great Britain’s crown was allowed to fade away to a tiny diamond chip. The licence fee was gobbled up by what was seen as this potential money maker, this giant picture machine which was replacing the original little voice box which had informed, educated and entertained us all so successfully for so many years.

The BBC’s worldwide reputation came from the excellence of its spoken word programming. Scan the schedules of BBC Radio these days and you will be hard put to it to find dramas, dramatised documentaries, readings from books or short stories. A large part of the reason for this is that whoever it is who decides how to allot the licence fee has consistently overlooked Radio in favour of TV.

Ironically the smallest percentage of a TV budget, that spent on the trimmings (or luxuries), would hardly be missed whereas that same percentage would be gold dust to Radio producers.

For some years Equity has been a lone voice in the desert calling for a renaissance of radio. It is time now to involve the public who, for the most part, are unaware how close we are to losing what no other country in the world does as well as we do, spoken word programming.

– Sheila Mitchell

Introducing: Our New Audio & Games Organiser

A quick introduction from me – my name is Shannon Sailing, and I’ve worked for Equity for just over ten years. I am delighted to say that as of May 2021 I will be taking over responsibility for organising in Audio and in Games.

I started working for Equity back in 2010 as an Organising Assistant for West End Theatre and in 2015 became a Recruitment and Retention Organiser in Equity’s Recorded Media Department, so I have quite a varied experience of working with members across many fields.

When I started as a Recruitment and Retention Organiser in 2015, one of the priorities I set myself was to work more closely with Audio artists and visit them in their place of work in recording studios, something Equity hadn’t been doing regularly. It was important to me to reach out and engage with members who may not have ever seen an Equity official at work before. I realised quite quickly the varied nature of audio work and issues that arise specifically in this field from the varied rates of pay, to working in home studios and so on, and I am excited to be given responsibility for organising in this area.

It is really good news that Equity has given Audio and Games a dedicated organiser as there is potential for such a huge amount of work in this field and our Audio and Games workers deserve and need that focus.

Happily, I am having a long handover period with Cathy Sweet, Equity’s BBC Organiser who currently has responsibility for Audio. I am sure most people know Cathy well and how highly regarded she is by Equity staff and most importantly Equity members. She has been doing amazing work in Audio, alongside the Audio committee, for many years and is currently showing me the ropes and will of course be on hand after I take over in May to support me in my work should I need it. I realise I have huge shoes to fill after Cathy and I hope to do it justice!

The Audio and Games roles of course do cross over hugely, and I am excited to make big steps with organising in the Games area too. I am currently working alongside John Barclay (Equity’s Assistant General Secretary for Recorded Media) on negotiating a voice over agreement between Equity and some major games studios – this will be the first of its kind for Equity and we hope will make a hugely positive impact on our members working in Games.

I am genuinely delighted to be taking on Audio and Games, and working with the Audio Committee too, I think we can all look forward to making some positive changes within the industry. I also feel strongly that our members voices are heard so I would really encourage anyone who wants to talk to me about anything within these areas to get in touch!​

Update on the Commercial Radio Rate Card for 2021

Dear Members,

We had hoped to have the 2020 rate cards ready for 1st January 2021, however negotiations with the major UK Radio groups are underway, but not yet complete.

Our aim for these negotiations, given the seismic events of 2020, has been to keep matters as simple as possible, so our hope is that the final round of discussion – scheduled for early in January – will be wrapped up as expediently as possible.

For the time being, please continue to use the 2020 rate cards and be assured that we will inform all members as soon as new rates are confirmed.

Thanks, as ever, for your patience and support. In the meantime, we wish you all the best for the holidays.

The ILR Working Party
Marcus, Pete, Dan and Annette

A Message to The Voice Realm & all P2Ps (and to our VOs): the Law is Changing.

The UK VO community and Equity have been shocked by recent tweets from The Voice Realm. The behaviour on display, though sadly not new, has tipped into offensive and indefensible. But it is also an indication of how some companies see the VO industry as a cash cow and regard its members, not as artists and professionals, but as an inexhaustible supply of fodder. This has got to stop.


P2P/work hub platforms, in the voice over sector, have broken previously established norms. Previously, there was a relatively small community of full time professional performers, working through their agents or directly and regularly with their own clients. Rates of pay and terms of service
were directly negotiable between the end client and the artist (or the artist’s rep) and there was a reasonable equality in the bargaining positions.

It can be of little surprise then to the voiceover job sites (operated collectively by a handful of people) that voice talent who have been around for a long time, and who have spent years establishing their careers, are very angry. They have lost volumes of work. Their pay has gone down exponentially and dangerously. Fees are being creamed off substantially by intermediaries. Copyright laws in their respective countries have been broken and disregarded. This been happening for the past 15 years and they have reached boiling point.


In recent years, record companies, unions and collecting societies have pushed back across the recorded media industries, as an unregulated digital marketplace has matured. The campaigning has been extensive and lengthy. As result, in the past 24 months, two major pieces of legislation (globally) have come into force and artists in more than 60 countries are now afforded performer’s rights – and will in the coming months and years be using the law to push back at the P2Ps and their customers – who will no longer be able to hide behind legal jurisdiction and argue that their terms are simply “work for hire”. It is far more complicated than that, as the owners of those sites well know.

As two of the major players are based in the US (TheVoiceRealm) and Canada ( – which do not support performers’ rights in law- it is worth reminding them that from July 2021 the EU copyright directive will give ALL EU performers these rights:

The New Copyright Directive: Fair remuneration in exploitation contracts of authors and performers – Part 1, Articles 18 and 19

From April 2020 the Beijing Treaty came into force in 33 countries:

Existing copyright law for sound recordings:

This law has been flouted for years by the job sites.

A note on copyright case jurisdiction in the UK

(Sections 23-27)

Blanket global terms, then, will no longer wash. This is not a matter of opinion. A legal framework is established and the potential repercussions for the vo job sites and the paying clients who use them are enormous. NO EMPLOYER is going to want to use these platforms if they are not certain that the contractual arrangements they enter in to comply with the laws of their own countries, or in the countries in which they wish to broadcast content. And they don’t currently, in many cases. Localisation services should be taking note.

A major piece of research is currently being undertaken by a major IP faculty at a major UK university on P2P terms in the VO industry, and the findings will be published within the next year and made available to the UK government, Equity, SAG, the FIA , the collecting societies and the press as part of an ongoing campaign to see the Beijing Treaty fully ratified in the UK.

Executive findings of of the pilot study. More to come.

Similar action is being taken in the US. Both the UK and the US are signatories to the Beijing Treaty and therefore have agreed to support its aims.

To those running P2P job sites on global terms in creative industres where IP is a major factor, we would suggest seeking legal advice to make sure that your terms of contract with performers comply with international and local laws. And to do it quickly. Talent want a level playing field. International law makers and the European Union have at last acknowledged that they are entitled to one.

To The Voice Realm, and the others in this market – it’s over to you now.

Diversity in Audio

The world of audio feels like the one artistic arena where how you look shouldn’t matter and yet somehow the invisible hierarchies still trickle through. The world is, at best, unconsciously biased and, at worst, deeply elitist in outlook. Equity’s Audio Committee has formed a Diversity working group consisting of Ashabi Ajikawo, David Thorpe and myself and we are determined to improve inclusion and diversity within the Audio industry.

Diversity is a tricky and complicated topic, the issues generated by it as roiling and difficult to pin down as a wave. Even the word ‘diversity’ feels more typically affiliated with racial diversity, and whilst this is one of the top concerns for the Audio Committee, both personally and politically, we also believe it should encompass concerns from a wide range of minority groups.

As a white-passing mixed-race actor I have a complicated relationship with diversity. My mixed heritage is often written off by people who say, with no shame, ‘oh but you look white’ -whatever that means. But heritage is not merely visual, it is cultural, biological and inherent. Lazy labelling like this drags us down in either direction. Perhaps labelling is what we need to find our tribe at first, to find people who have lived the same frustrations as us. But the labelling can also encourage those with a narrower outlook to see only that label and penalise people on something reductive. It can also close people off to conversation and exclude those of us that tread the peripheries of race, sexuality and identity. If you are being marginalised by your own community, is it any wonder progress does not get made in the professional realm? And of all the areas in our industry, if any should be solely about talent it is audio. If your voice is right, that is all that should matter and that is the kind of goal to which we would like to aspire. Once that bypasses labels and eventually makes the need for them redundant.

But as it stands, there are currently numerous roadblocks to audio for a lot of people. After not being allowed to go to drama school I felt constantly like I was catching up with vastly more experienced peers. My ‘breakthrough’ in the audio work came about thanks to a BBC Radio Drama competition called the Norman Beaton Fellowship. This annual focuses on actors who have not had traditional training and works closely with companies like Yellow Earth, Tamasha and Graeae who all champion minority actors. The NBF’s core principle is to welcome actors who have not had a typical route into the industry, actors it would consider somewhat at a disadvantage. But it stands alone in a world of privilege and closed books. The more you look into it the more you see that wealth plays an important role in access, affording drama school, being able to focus solely on performing and not losing time to the side hustle, needing money for equipment, software. Couple this with outdated notions of class and the idea that a certain voice or style is the benchmark to which we should aspire, and you can see why it is easy to write off other voices as irrelevant.

I would love the Norman Beaton Fellowship to be a kind of model and inspiration for larger companies like Audible and Spotify. To make these gatekeepers more aware of the huge range of talent at their disposal and to enable newer performers who may not have access to this kind of work. Being frank, we are always in danger of all work going to a certain elite but when art’s role is to hold a mirror up to society it is only right that we reflect the huge range of skills talents, backgrounds and personalities that form that society.

Whilst the Audio Committee’s Diversity Working Group feel we can speak for some aspects of diversity we are keen to reach out to a wide range of groups, committees and actors who feel they have encountered certain roadblocks in accessing audio work. We would like to speak to the LGBTQ+ community, to D/deaf and disabled artists, women and anyone who feels their circumstances have seen them written out of the narrative. We would like to invite discussion in order to enable us to more adequately focus our next steps on inclusion, improving uptake at an educational level and amongst the top employers.

If you wish to offer thoughts, opinions and open up the conversation please do contact me at or on twitter at @Kerry_Gooderson and the Diversity Working Group will endeavour to form a policy around these concerns and where possible, meet or discuss with you further. We hope to hear from you soon.

Kerry Gooderson

Home Studio Advice

For those looking for detailed guidance on setting up a studio at home, Helen Lloyd has updated the information posted below and the new version can be found on our Advice page.

Home Studio Recording Advice During Covid 19 Restrictions

From a wealth of experience, award-winning Audiobook Narrator, Helen Lloyd, has written some thoughts and guidance on moving into audiobooks and working from a home studio in the current circumstances. She has kindly allowed us to share this here.

We’re all ‘socially distancing’ or ‘in lockdown’ and as recording studios are closed – audiobook publishers urgently need narrators who can record audiobooks remotely from their personal studio. If everyone doing remote recording work is careful and diligent, what happens now is likely to change the face of audiobook recording for the future and open up more opportunities for narrators, particularly those of us who live outside London and in more rural areas, or those who have responsibilities at home, which it difficult to take time away to record in a mainstream studio.

So here are some tips to help ensure that this opportunity isn’t thrown away!

Recording audiobooks is very different from doing any other kind of voiceover or voice acting work. Audiobook narration is a challenge from a creative point of view, bringing an author’s vision to life, creating not only a compelling narrative voice, but also an array of unique and believable characters – it also requires stamina, and the ability to make choices and to self-direct. If you’re recording remotely, you also need to have some basic technical knowledge of how sound works in your recording space and a thorough understanding of your own recording set-up and software.

Normally in the UK, only a comparatively small number of audiobooks are recorded remotely, but at the current time, as social isolation is the norm and recording studios are forced to close due to Corona Virus, the demand for narrators who can deliver high quality remote audiobook recordings is unprecedented.

Remote recording technical requirements.
Production houses and publishers rightly demand high technical as well as performance standards – and that means that you – and your personal studio must be able to meet their demands consistently, day in and day out. Each publisher and producer will have their own tech specs which they will share with the narrators they hire, and will normally request a raw studio sample for evaluation by their audio engineers. They will only consider adding you to their list of narrators if you can demonstrate that you’re able to match their technical requirements as well as being able to deliver first class storytelling and character creation. They will usually also ask for details of the equipment and software you use.

What constitutes a ‘home studio’?
Not all ‘home studios’ are equal – and publishers and producers have exacting standards to maintain. Most narrators who record remotely for
mainstream publishers and production houses have made a significant financial investment in order to meet these standards.

No matter for whom you’re recording, the minimum requirement is that you have an acoustically treated recording space where you can work comfortably for many hours at a time. Obviously your recording space needs to be quiet, with minimal bleed-through of sound from the surroundings, both internal and external. Many full time narrators have created or purchased an ‘isolation booth’ or have found a way to isolate their recording space from the rest of their home. Isolation booths are expensive … and heavy: some require a surveyor’s report if you’re installing them above ground floor level or on anything other than a solid floor; and all isolation booths require the installation of acoustic treatment within – how much will vary depending on the make and model.

Most of us have to consider cost – and until you know you can land the work, then I don’t advise you to rush out and spend thousands of pounds on an isolation booth. Many successful narrators work in home built studios installed in cupboards under the stairs, in attic rooms or box rooms, or even in the corner of a spare bedroom. I know many narrators successfully narrating in such spaces with good acoustic treatment.

The very minimum quality requirement, measured when recording at a level where, at conversational volume, the raw vocal recording, without any normalizing, levelling or compression, falls between -20dB and -6dB across a whole chapter – and that this is achieved without the noise floor being higher than -60dB. This is generally accepted as the minimum requirement, but some production houses will not accept a noise floor above -65dB.

A common mistake is that folk lower their input levels in order to achieve a sufficiently low noise floor, but of course, this also lowers the level of the voice. When the overall audio level is raised to meet audiobook requirements in post-production, then the noise floor is also raised.

The sky is the limit when it comes to buying for a home studio. You can spend literally thousands of pounds – but remember, buying a Steinway Grand doesn’t turn you into a concert pianist!

If your recording environment is noisy or has a lot of echo, no matter what microphone and interface you invest in, you will run into problems.

Get the space right first
Acoustic foam, moving blankets, duvets and even soft furnishings (curtains rather than blinds, carpet rather than bare floors) can help to reduce low frequency rumble and echo.

Your equipment and software need to be capable of producing professional sound; and I also advise people not to attempt to record audiobooks using Audacity which I find clunky and unresponsive – there are much better options, including the free software Ocenaudio or the free version of Studio One, both of which have native punch and roll recording. There are other good software options: Studio One Artist, Sound Forge Pro (PC only), Adobe Audition, Pro Tools, Reaper … and no doubt many more that I have never tried. (I use Studio One Artist which was a steep learning curve, but well worth the effort).

Once you have your recording space and software set up, then you need to look at equipment.
These are the basics that you’ll need.

 A large diaphragm condenser (LDC) microphone is the recommended type of mic for audiobooks –plus a compatible shock mount, mic stand and pop screen. Check out Rode NT1 or NT2 (not the A versions). A USB podcaster microphone (some of which have a lot of self-noise) will make achieving high quality sound much more difficult. All LDC microphones require phantom power so you’ll also need a suitable audio interface.

 An audio interface/preamp that supplies phantom power (48V power) plus appropriate power and USB cables. Check out Scarlett and Audient, both of which produce a basic interface with input for two microphones and output for headphones or speakers. The basic models normally have no direct power supply, but rely on getting power via a USB port on your computer.

 You don’t need a mixer/mixing desk for audiobooks. Most publishers and production houses request raw, digitally unprocessed audio – and if you do have a mixer or plugins with any presets (such as gating or compression) that you use for VO work, I advise you to disable them for audiobook recording unless instructed otherwise by the publisher or producer, or with the express details provided by an audio engineer working for that publisher or producer.

 XLR to XLR balanced microphone cables. An XLR fitting is a type of electrical connector used in professional audio. The connections are circular in design and most XLR cables have three pins on each end, one male and one female. These are usually supplied with the microphone.

 Over the ear professional quality headphones. Make sure you don’t buy headphones that are designed for music listening, as these are ‘tuned’ to improve the music listening experience, but can give you a false picture of what you are hearing when using them for voice work.

 A computer with recording/editing software, also known as a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) preferably that offers Punch and Roll (also known as Rock and Roll) recording capability – These include Sound Forge Pro (versions 11, 12, or 13) for PC only, Reaper, Studio One or Pro Tools – and then there’s the free software OCENAUDIO. All except Sound Forge are compatible with either Mac or PC.

 If you have anything other than a solid state drive computer
(SSD) computer noise is likely to be a problem, so you may need to set things up with your computer or laptop situated OUTSIDE the recording space, so you’ll need a secondary monitor, keyboard and mouse to reduce the amount of noise coming from inside your recording space.

 Extension USB cables and HDMI cables for secondary monitor, mouse and keyboard – HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface and is a compact audio/video interface for transferring uncompressed video data and compressed or uncompressed digital audio data from a HDMI compliant source device, so – in this case a laptop or computer to a compatible computer monitor. USB and HDMI cables have a maximum recommended length. Using a USB cable that is longer than the recommended length can result in degradation of the signal. In the case of an audio interface, this could have a detrimental effect on your audio signal.

 A music or copy stand for your printed text, or a tablet, Kindle or iPad for reading PDF text versions of the MS.

 A desk and chair – the desk needs to be covered, the chair needs to be silent and you need to ensure that its position and relationship to the microphone remains the same throughout the recording, day after day.

 Optional extras – studio monitors (speakers).

File Organisation.
You have to be really well organised with the naming and saving of your audio files. In case anything needs to be unravelled or undone, you should save each file clearly identified at every stage, so will always have multiple copies of each file and need to be able to identify each one quickly and accurately. In addition, you should also back up all your files by saving to either cloud storage or a secondary hard drive (or both) at the end of every session.

Flying Solo.
Once you get the go ahead and start recording, you’re on your own! This is not nearly as frightening as it sounds. When you’re working remotely, you don’t have to complete four finished hours in a studio day as you do in a mainstream studio; you can generally set your own schedule and work flexibly, providing you can still meet any deadlines. Apart from the fact that you’re pressing the ‘record’ button yourself, the actual process of creating the characters, choosing voices, telling the story, is not any different from how it works in a mainstream studio – other than the fact that you’re working solo – so will have to do corrections and pick-ups after the audio has been proofed; but particularly if you have the right software and can master punch and roll (rock and roll as it is also known in the UK) any errors or flubs that you spot will be over recorded just as they are in a mainstream studio – though there are likely to be some things that slip through and will have to be corrected later.

Sorting out Mistakes.
Everything so far has been about recording. We now get to the point where we begin to think about how to deal with flubs and errors, which will always happen no matter how good a narrator you are.

When recording in a mainstream studio, whoever is on the other side of the glass, will stop you whenever you make an error and will stop the recording. You’ll then hear the previous five seconds or so through your headphones and will pick up the read at the point before you made the error and recording will continue. With the right software, you can do exactly the same thing in your own studio, using punch recording – known widely as punch and roll, but also as rock and roll in the UK.

Of course when you’re working solo, unless you spot a mistake as you’re recording, it won’t be noticed until the audio is proofed after the entire book is recorded. If this is the case, the narrator is sent a list of corrections which they record into a separate audio file, using identical settings and matching against their original recording, which they then return to their editor to be editing into the original recording so that all errors are replaced. You will not normally be asked to edit in your corrections yourself – you should just supply a single file with all the pickups and corrections recorded to seamlessly match the original – though of course, without the error.

The capability for Punch and Roll recording is not an option in all recording software and though there are narrators who manage well enough without it, the ability to punch and roll will ultimately save you an enormous amount of and once you get to grips with it.

Golden rules
 Always work in MONO, and always record and edit in either .wav or aiff format. Always deliver mono files to your audiobook clients in the format they request. This is normally wave, FLAC or sometimes MP3.

 Only convert files to MP3 format after you’ve done everything else – never open an MP3 file to edit and resave. The audio will be degraded.

 Be realistic about the time involved. When recording in a mainstream studio with a director, the normal ratio is to allow two hours of studio time to produce each finished hour of narration. Working independently in a remote studio is almost certainly going to take you a lot longer, especially if you’re not used to working in this way. And then there is the time it takes to do pick- ups and corrections on top of that.

 Keep track of all your character’s voices. Copy and paste each voice to an MP3 files and save in the character’s name. There may be over a hundred voices in a single audiobook, some separated by many chapters. You’ll never remember them all. And what happens if the author writes a sequel?

 Don’t undervalue your contribution to the product – and quote accordingly. Most studios pay higher rates for remote recording than they do for mainstream studio recording.

A final thought.
Until we were hit with Covid 19 and the necessity for everyone to work ‘from home’ the vast majority of UK productions were recorded in professional recording studios. Will we return to that situation post- pandemic? Who knows!

To my mind – the current situation presents us all with a wonderful opportunity.

If every narrator working from their personal recording studio maintains the highest possible production standards in their recordings, both technically and artistically, then the current horrible situation we’re all in, could potentially open up many more opportunities to narrators, even when mainstream studios are back up and running. Just think of all those back catalogues! This situation, if we handle it right, will allow publishers and producers, authors, and indie publishers to create more audiobooks – with high quality narration from live voices rather than synthesised voices, which is something I think we all fear.

But we have to keep the standards high. If audiobook listeners are inundated with poorly recorded audiobooks, we have lost a real opportunity – and poor quality audio will increase the speed with which AI audiobooks are developed.

Collectively we have the opportunity to make a fantastic first impression on the audiobook publishing world. Let’s make sure we make it count.

Helen Lloyd April 2020.

A Word from our Chair

With relentless media coverage of the grim realities of the current pandemic, our Committee Chair, Sheila Mitchell, has been keen to stress the importance of staying strong, looking out for each other and remaining positive in the face of adversity. So, we asked her to write a blog for us. Her words are below.

As a nonagenarian, it seems that I am very likely to be written off and while this may turn out to be true, I very much object to being made to live my last days in a state of misery. Of course I appreciate the situation is serious, but if we follow the advice about soap and water and hand gel and do not unnecessarily expose ourselves to germ-ridden situations, we should also look for ways to diminish the misery of isolation.

Look back at history and consider how much worse it was to catch one of the many plagues which were almost universally deadly, or nearer our time – and one I vividly remember – the Second World War, when the chances of extinction during the blitz or from doodle-bugs cutting out directly overhead, were a strong possibility. We, whatever our age, did not hide ourselves away. We got on with whatever was required of us and sought shelter at the height of an air-raid – many not even then, as they carried on as air-raid wardens, fire-watchers and ambulance drivers etc.

It seems that isolation plans are being put in place in order not to overwhelm the NHS, but please remember solitary confinement is one of the most stringent methods of punishment in our criminal system. Keep in (safe) contact with your grannies and grandpas, your uncles and aunts and do not allow them to wither away in dejected heaps. Let’s face the uncertainty together and at least hope for as cheerful a way through as possible!

Sheila Mitchell

Commercial Radio Agreements 2020

The agreements for this year’s rates are now “live” and available below.

Please note that these rates are valid only when working for either Global or Bauer and are specifically for VOs working from home/remote studios and contracted directly by the radio groups.

Please note the conditions for use of these rates at the end of each card; these are important and should be applied whenever using the rates on the card.

Rates for UKRD stations remain unchanged from last year’s agreement, also posted below.

If you have any questions about Radio commercials, please contact Tim Gale at equity on