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Respondents' Comments To Question #5:

If You Belong To A Union, Does Membership Enhance
Or Diminish Your Chances Of Obtaining Audiobook Projects?


Respondents to the VoiceOverXtra Audiobook Narrators Business Survey - 2015 made the following comments to Question 5. For the accompanying article, please click here.

  • I haven't been narrating long enough to ascertain this. 
  • Neither enhances or diminishes.
  • it depends - if I could get my foot in the door with a major publisher, it would enhance. With small houses or authors, union membership is a deterrent.
  • Membership does not seem to matter to publishers. 
  • I am UK-based and there is no standard Audiobook agreement with Equity. From seeing what has happened to colleagues in the US due to the 6 book = higher rates rule from SAG/AFTRA, I think this can only do damage as publishers appear unwilling to pay the higher rate and as I understand it, there is no choice on the narrator's part. The knock on effect has to reduce options and offers to experienced narrators. A really bad move on the part of the Union, I feel.
  • I don't know that union membership matters, but I've been SAG/AFTRA for 25 years.
  • I don't think membership does much either way. Most unions are geared toward actors, but not specifically toward the audiobook narration genre, which has its own industry standards and challenges. 
  • Unions are slowly recognizing narration as its own niche, but will take a few years to change enough for the benefits to be worth the dues, particularly for narrators new to the industry.
  • Neither, however, for union projects the pay is better.
  • either way - no difference
  • It enhances the chance of my getting paid a better RATE for my projects; however, I don't accept work for less than union minimum, so one could argue that it diminishes chances of taking lower-paying work.
  • Probably diminish. I have done a couple of stipend projects through ACX that went through the union, but have not used it on PFH projects.
  • Doesn't really make a decision difference in getting work but slightly more chances if willing to work some projects non-Union.
  • I really couldn't say that it helps one way or the other. I know that it hinders my ability to find work in front of the Camera in Florida, and I've all but given up trying to find THAT work here... but I can't stop telling stories, which is why I find narrating audiobooks so appealing. I don't have to leave home to audition.
  • It's not an issue. I go to the union per project especially if not a union project. The union so far has granted my audiobooks without a problem if theY're non-union.
  • SAG typically means someone who is trained in what they do. Not an amateur.
  • Makes little difference in obtaining projects
  • Doesn't seem to have an effect either way.
  • I'm actually a member of Actor's Equity, which really doesn't impact my work as an audiobook narrator from what I can tell.
  • Isn't this a question of obtaining a better quality of audiobook opportunities, rather than the number of projects? 
  • It does not matter with independent publishers
  • Not really sure, but it seems to enhance the chance of being hired.
  • better rates than non-union, but still relatively low pay in my opinion
  • helps get better rate
  • Although it doesn't seem to do neutral would be best answer.
  • Makes no difference.
  • It guarantees me a living wage, health insurance and a pension.
  • Actor's unions do not procure work for their members as the musician's union does. But if you mean some producers and publishers might not hire talent if they're union, that is becoming more and more of a rarity as SAG-AFTRA has been organizing at an incredible rate. Almost all the publishers have signed union contracts to date with very few exceptions.
  • Since ACX makes the stipend AFTRA eligible - it's fairly easy. But pure RS projects are tough to reconcile with the union.
  • Does not matter...but that wasn't offered as a choice.
  • Belonging to a union may diminish, or destroy, my chances of obtaining non-union work, but I'm not interested enough in that work for it to matter.
  • I don't think it affects it.
  • Neither enhances nor diminishes chances, but I get paid more and I get pension and health as a union member so it's good for me.
  • I am Fi/Core and as of yet have not been exposed to any Union Audio books...not being based in NY or LA probably has something to do with that! LOL
  • Not entirely sure yet. I'm SAG/Aftra, but not sure how that impacts me yet.
  • I don't think it matters to authors, although I always let them know I am a union member.
  • Who knows?
  • I have been PROUDLY pro-Union, but they have failed us because there is no collective agreement. I am witnessing experienced narrators getting fewer and fewer books, while novices are literally being brought aboard to produce "on the cheap."
  • I belong to a union, but I'm still not sure how it affects my projects. I have only been working with one author on a series and we have not been using the union rates b/c I was new when I started with her and she's self-published. I would like to use my membership on future books, but will be careful at how I approach it.
  • The majority of jobs I have auditioned for and seen available are not done through SAG-AFTRA agreements.
  • I actually don't think it matters other than to make people assume you are a professional when it comes to the acting
  • neither, but does set a rate which is good
  • Neither. I audition and if they like me, I get it. If not, I don't. That being said, I love being a union member and never forget how hard I had to work to become a member. I do wish, however, that there were more opportunities for Union work.
  • Neither. The union allows union members to take all audiobook work whether a union contract or not.
  • Actually doesn't make a difference. I only take union gigs
  • I can't tell yet.
  • British actors Equity is not that effective, although I find the meetings informative, or at least it brings me into contact with other narrators to network with.
  • I believe I'm now sufficiently well-known in the industry so it's likely (tho' not certain) that being Union neither enhances nor diminishes my being hired. That said, being experienced puts me into the higher Union-negotiated rates for experienced narrators, so this could put off a publisher selecting me. So both? 
  • Maybe my response is more about the cost-to-value relationship of experienced v. non-experienced narrators, rather than about the upside or downside of Union membership?
  • I am Financial Core so it really doesn't matter. 
  • Neither, as I understand Union rules, but I might be wrong.
  • Union membership is the  best way to insure that we all get paid fairly for our work in and out of (eg. prep, research) the studio. It insures that there is a standard below which neither narrator nor producer can fall without consequences. More union narrators = fewer low-paying offers from producers; it's pay union rate, or can't get your audiobook narrated.
  • Being a member of SAG-AFTRA  does not enhance or dIminish obtaining audiobook projects. What it does is insure decent rates for ones work and also health and retirement benefits
  • I do belong to SAG-AFTRA. Not sure whether they help or not. They are certainly trying to get more work for their members.
  • Doesn't make a difference; though sometimes I can tell that companies w/o union contracts but who offer union really hope I waive my union option for them.
  • Union membership enhances the chances of being considered by the major publishers for quality books. It no doubt diminishes the chances of being considered by publishers seeking to produce on the cheap.
  • I became a member of SAG-AFTRA four years ago and have worked nearly non-stop in the industry since that time.
  • Union membership is vital to a robust, healthy, sustainable industry, and their work supports all actors who want to work professionally in the industry.
  • The only way to go is union. They hold the publisher to a given rate, and you earn health and pension.
  • My Union membership has no bearing on my chances of "obtaining audiobook projects." What union membership does is protect me when I am working, by guaranteeing my wage, and providing my health coverage and pension. This question is skewed. It should at least offer a third option.
  • Union membership provides the opportunity for premium compensation. There may be very good non-union narrators, but the BEST are ALL union.
  • The union also provides non-union members an opportunity to earn union rates in many cases where the union has contracted this.
  • It enhances my ability to be taken seriously.
  • Belonging to the Union enhances chances of making a living, having health insurance and receiving a pension.
  • Neither
  • Don't know.
  • Same chances Union or not. I am a union member
  • Unknown
  • I think union membership is less recant than the quality of one's performance
  • I belong to a union but it doesn't enhance nor diminish
  • neither. it protects our rate structure and affords us the opportunity to obtain health insurance.
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