What Does the AudioUK Manifesto Mean for You?

Feb 23rd

Earlier this month, AudioUK released a four-point manifesto asking political parties to support audio production and commit to policies that could grow the UK’s audio production sector. We explore how these changes at government level could potentially reach independent podcasters…

AudioUK is the trade association for the audio-led production sector, including podcasts, radio and audiobooks. Back in December, when we spoke to the managing director of AudioUK, Chloe Straw, we learned how a large part of her role revolved around policy and regulation, speaking on behalf of the audio industry in high-level meetings. We recently saw the product of some of that work when AudioUK released a manifesto, ‘The Sound of Success’.

The Sound of Success manifesto lays out four tangible ways that political parties could support audio production going forward:

1) An Audio Production Tax Relief
2) Audio-specific funds such as a Global Audio IP Fund and reinstating the Audio Content Fund
3) Funding train for the audio sector
4) Introducing 100% competition for non-news BBC radio and audio content, so independent producers could pitch to make shows for the broadcaster

UK governments have previously provided policies similar to these for other content production sectors, for example film and video-games. However, despite the UK’s strong heritage of public radio, audio has had very little specific support. As Chloe Straw said in the launch article “…it is imperative for the government to actively champion and foster this thriving creative sector. Aligning it with other creative industries in the UK will empower the sector to fully capitalise on the vast domestic and global opportunities available.”

Independent podcasters and creators might feel very detached from this type of high level policy talk, but the hope is this type of work will trickle down so individuals are also supported. Here are some of the ways we hope this will help podcasters in the future.

1) The manifesto itself is a great resource

Even if it takes a while for these policies to be adopted (if they are adopted) the work that has gone into this manifesto can be a great resource for podcasters. There is information on the amount of advertising revenue that podcasts bring in, the reach and size of the UK audio sector and the international IP market. These are useful figures, especially if you are looking for sponsors, building a business plan for your audio company, or generally talking about why audio is great!

2) Potential for new direct funding pots

Possibly the most exciting thing that would directly help podcast producers is the potential for funding pots they could directly apply for. The manifesto asks for the return of the UK Audio Content Fund, after a pilot scheme that ran between 2019 and 2023. The scheme was an open application that created some really interesting content, but it was only available to producers releasing the work through a broadcaster or radio station. AudioUK are suggesting reintroducing the scheme with a podcast element, which means people could pitch ideas for shows released purely through RSS or streaming. This should mean you wouldn’t need to approach or know a radio station to apply.

The Global Audio IP Fund could be another funding pot for podcasters to access directly. The Global Screen Fund currently allows independent filmmakers to apply for grants for a range of international projects, including launching and promoting films at festivals. One way a Global Audio IP Fund could work is supporting creators to reach more international podcast festivals and awards.

3) More accessible training opportunities

Free and accessible training opportunities are essential when it comes to equity in the audio industry. The Audiotrain programme, which AudioUK has been running since 2014, was initially set up through a government funding pot that no longer supports audio. Whilst AudioUK still funds Audiotrain directly, more monetary support could help make it easier for individuals to enter the industry and upskill.

It is worth pointing out, however, that even if the government does invest more money in audio training, it might not be available widely. Governments and the public sector tend to work with approved suppliers and partners, so such funding might not go to independent and grassroots organisations that already offer free and affordable resources, like Content is Queen.

4) Support for independent producers and creators

BBC Radio 4 is the biggest speech-based radio station in the world, and it commissions over 13,000 programmes and podcasts every year, so the BBC still has a strong influence on the UK’s audio industry as a whole. That’s why there are concerns about the BBC speech audio production moves to BBC Studios, because less shows would be created by external companies. The manifesto’s fourth policy would mean that independent companies could pitch to make shows for the broadcaster. For individual podcasters, working with an independent company is an easier route to creating something for the BBC, but it also means that BBC shows are likely to be more diverse and representative, because they will be getting a wider source of creators.

5) More international opportunities

The manifesto has a big emphasis on opening up the UK audio sector to an international market. This is something that governments are also likely to support, as it brings investment into the country. For podcasters and production companies, this could make international collaboration more viable. Whether it is creating a podcast in multiple languages, or using your intellectual property (IP) to start a local version of a popular show (for example Pod Save The UK) it’s exciting to think about the opportunities a more international market could bring to podcasters.

At the moment, this manifesto is just a request for policy change, so it could still be a while before we see any results. Nonetheless, this could offer a lot of opportunities to individual podcasters, and we’re excited to think about the shows it could bring to listeners.

Whether you want to take the next step in your career, master production or stay up to date with podcasting events, the Content is Queen community awaits. Explore our membership options here.