Exeter researchers launch the first study into the contractual practices in the UK voice-over industry. 

Fair pay and fair play in the UK voice-over industry

Last week, Exeter Law School researchers Dr Mathilde Pavis and Huda Tulti launched a study into the remuneration and contractual practices in the UK voice-over industry. The study aims to understand the impact that Uber-like online platforms for the recruitment of artists have on the levels of pay of voice-over actors.

Until recently, the creative industries remained relatively unaffected by the so-called phenomenon of ‘uberization’, that is the conversion of existing jobs and services into discrete tasks that can be requested on-demand. This statement held true until service providers such as Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, Quidjob and Upwork extended their services to offer bespoke creative content. Clients, including companies, organisations and individuals, can now directly purchase from these platforms services such as logo design, video-making or radio idents produced by professionals or amateurs based anywhere in the world. Platforms such as Fiverr impose standard-form contracts on their customers (artists and buyers) and control, often cap, the price range to amounts that fall below standard rates. This risks driving down levels of pay in creative markets.

Voice-over actors represent a sizeable market of the creative industries which risks being particularly affected by this new online practice. Voice-over actors are performers who record voices to bring to life a wide range of creative content we enjoy on a daily basis, such as radio programs, documentaries, audio-books or advertising clips. Exeter researchers Mathilde Pavis and Huda Tulti investigate current levels of pay and contractual practices in the UK, with the intention to study the potential impact of Uber-like platforms on the work of voice-over actors. This project combines expertise in intellectual property law and contract law in collaboration with professionals and representative organisations working in this industry. The researchers have launched an online survey last week. A little over 100 participants have now taken part in this research. The survey will be open until 31 March 2019 and is available at www.exeter.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/fair-pay.

Date: 21 January 2019