AudioUK Issues Its 2024 Trade Association Manifesto

In News by Porter Anderson

The AudioUK trade association has a four-point set of goals for 2024 in search of support for independent audio producers and creators.

Listening on the move in London’s Bishopsgate, July 21, 2023. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Jonathan Wilson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also: Audio Publishers Association: 2024 Audie Awards Shortlist

‘Sustained Exponential Growth’
In the United Kingdom today (February 5), the trade association known as AudioUK has released its new “manifesto for the UK independent podcast, radio, and audiobook industry 2024.”

Earlier known as the Radio Independents Group, this program was reintroduced in July 2018 as AudioUK and has retained is focus on audio production.

That’s a point of interest to many who follow the work of the States-based Audio Publishers Association, which under the executive direction of Michele Cobb is—as its name implies—focused on support of audio publishers and their work.

There are four points topping the AudioUK manifesto today:

  • Audio production tax relief like that already in place for television, film, video gaming, animation, and other production sectors, meant to encourage international investors to back UK-based brands
  • Funding for skills and training in audio along the lines of the existing UK Global Screen Fund “to boost international development, production, distribution, and promotional opportunities”
  • A global audio intellectual property fund and revised UK Audio Content Fund, the original pilot edition of which was in place between 2019 and 2023 and “commissioned 165 diverse projects from 91 suppliers, broadcast on 350 commercial and community stations”
  • Further creative competition in BBC radio and/or audio in which audio production not related to BBC News content could be competed for by independent producers; as BBC moves more of this content production into BBC Studios, the association says, “external audio producers should be able to compete for 100 percent of non-news BBC speech productions”

What’s interesting about this list of goals, of course, is the picture it offers of independent audio production in the British market as an under-supported sector made up of what AudioUK says is more than 200 independent “creative companies making high-quality podcasts, radio, audiobooks, and more. They employ more than 2,000 people and contribute to the work of the other creative industries—audio is everywhere, in film, television, theater, video gaming, and arts.”

For all that, however, the organization says, “Audio is the only industry not being supported” by UK government initiatives that provide backing to the market’s other creative production industries. The pitch, then, is to “political parties to adopt these key policies, which together will grow the pocdcast, radio, and audiobook sector in the UK.”

Chloe Straw

In a comment on today’s release of this list of ambitions, Chloe Straw, managing director of AudioUK, is quoted, saying, “As the global podcast and audiobook industries show sustained exponential growth, coupled with the enduring strength of radio reach in the UK, 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 capitalize on the vast domestic and global opportunities available.”

More Than 140 Member-Companies

As part of the AudioUK manifesto’s four-page explication, we find some useful industry statistics relative to audio production in the United Kingdom.

For example, a chart based on Statista 2024 data indicates that productions see UK podcast advertising growing to £80 million (US$101.3 million) by 2026, up from £46 million in 2021 (US$58.9 million). According to an Edison Research Infinite Dial 2021 survey finding quoted by AudioUK, podcast consumption in the United Kingdom is “on a level with the United States for monthly podcast consumption and industry estimates show this will continue to grow.”

As for the Audio Content Fund, the association says that in its four years of operation, the first iteration of that program, which AudioUK would like to see renewed, “commissioned 165 diverse projects from 91 suppliers, broadcast on 350 commercial and community stations. It produced around 650 hours of unique programming, including drama, comedy, and documentary. The fund created up to 40 full-time and 200 part-time jobs, as well as 9,842 freelancer days, with the independent evaluation being highly positive, stating it had performed well against all criteria.”

Seeing these goals play out this year should be interesting, not least because the UK association is showing audio—considered to be growing in popularity, especially in the English-language markets—to be a sector in which independent production players feel themselves to be underserved by policy and economic support from the government by comparison to support enjoyed by sister creative sectors.

AudioUK says its membership comprises some 140 member-companies, of a sector-wide count of more than 200 such companies throughout the UK.

The UK audiobook sector, the association reports, is worth more than £100 million (US$126.3 million) annually, with live radio listening being something that some 89 percent of the UK population still engages in.

More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here, more on the United Kingdom’s book publishing market is here, and more on industry statistics is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.