The Writers Guild of America believes so and in conjunction with writers of scripted fiction podcasts, they’ve launched the WGA Audio Alliance to support audio fiction writers working to organize high budget scripted podcasts. They are targeting Spotify and Audible.
Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, said, “Companies like Audible and Spotify monetize scripted podcast work through ad sales and subscription revenue, and production entities (including TV networks) often use scripted podcasts to inexpensively generate IP that they can turn into a film or television series. As production of scripted podcasts reaches new heights, it has become increasingly clear that people who craft these programs should be protected by Guild contracts, and should participate in the value created by their work.”
In the last two years, the Guild has organized several nonfiction podcast companies, including Gimlet, The Ringer, and – most recently – Parcast. And while most of the 600,000 podcasts available at any one time are nonfiction podcasts like those produced by these companies, scripted audio dramas and comedies are a rapidly growing part of the market – and increasingly a source of work for writers of other mediums, including Guild members who write for film and television.
The Guild believes writers who make those podcasts possible should receive fair compensation, pension and health benefits, and credit for their work, and the WGA Audio Alliance aims to empower all writers to ask for their high budget podcasts to be covered under the Minimum Basic Agreement. Equally, the Guild is committed to the diversity of audio fiction writers: this medium has long been one in which diverse voices are able to tell their own stories, and working to preserve that richness as the industry grows is critical.