Welcome to the UK: ACX

By Mike Broderick

I heard some news last night, oh boy, that really made my day.[1] The behemoth, the leviathan, the 800 pound-gorilla of audio-book publishing and narration Audiobook Creation Exchange, better known as ACX, is now open for business in the UK.

I’d been hearing for months and months about the flood of audio-book narration opportunities that had created a new genre within the voice-over industry over the last few years.  And the principal player by far was said to be ACX, a platform of audio-book publisher Audible, an Amazon company.

Excited by the opportunities, I went to the ACX website a few months ago and started reading. There were opportunities to audition and provide a per finished hour rate or to take a royalty share option.  It all sounded great, and I couldn’t wait to get started.  But there was a problem:  I’m an American living in the UK and ACX wasn’t available in the UK. (As I understood it, as an American I would have had to submit an IRS W9 form, which requires a US address, and I don’t have one.  After yesterday’s announcement ACX now says that if I can provide either US or UK tax and bank information, I can participate.)

I then sat on the sidelines, watching as one of the biggest opportunities in the voice-over industry was passing me by.  I was bemused by a number of ironies:  I am American but couldn’t access opportunities offered by an American company; I was new to the voice-over industry after a career change, but for all intents and purposes, couldn’t take part in one of the most fertile voice-over genres for newcomers; authors, producers and voice actors based in the United Kingdom (home to three of the biggest phenomena in the history of publishing – William Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, and E.L. James (of 50 Shades of Grey fame) – couldn’t participate, and Simon Vance, one of the industry’s most prolific and award-winning actors and narrators, is British and lives in the United States.

So, yesterday’s announcement comes as a welcome relief to me and presumably others who live in the United Kingdom.

I’m by no means Pollyanna about the opportunity.  I’ve read Paul Strikwerda’s seminal blog post on audio-book narration rates (http://www.nethervoice.com/2009/10/24/breaking-down-audio-book-rate/). I know audio-book publishers have very strict audio and submission requirements. I’m aware that intensive and extensive editing time is required, which limits availability for other voice-over opportunities. I know that audio-book narration pays less on an hourly basis than other forms of voice-over and that the voice-over industry was roiled by ACX’s recent cuts in royalty rates.   I also understand that some voice-over veterans wouldn’t touch audio-book narration with a 10 foot pole (or a barge pole, as they say here in the UK).

Those are all considerations for another day.  Today I am no longer that kid with my nose pressed against the window of the candy store (or sweet shop) dying to go in, but unable to enter.

If I may be so bold (and we Americans are nothing if not bold) let me take this opportunity to welcome ACX to the United Kingdom.  As Tom Bodett used to say in those old Motel 6 commercials, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”


[1] Apologies to John, Paul, George, and, of course, Ringo (“Peace and Love. Peace and Love.”). For information on the announcement see: http://blog.acx.com/2014/04/09/acx-is-now-open-to-uk-authors-and-voice-actors/

Mike Broderick is an American voice-over artist based in the United Kingdom.

Mike Broderick is an American voice-over artist based in the United Kingdom.

 

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