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AIR Releases Updated Guide to Fair Practice for Independent Audio Professionals

December 15, 2021—AIR, Association of Independents in Radio, today announces the launch of its publicly accessible updated Guide to Fair Practice for Audio Professionals

The guide is both a glossary to define ethical standards and a resource for fair contracts between independent audio professionals and the companies, shows and stations that engage their services. It exists as a resource for professionals working in narrative audio across the industry, including independent producers, journalists, podcasters, editors, sound designers, composers and mix engineers. 

The latest edition includes updated guidance on harassment and abuse, both on and offline. Public-facing journalists and audio storytellers increasingly have to navigate digital harassment, abuse from (often anonymous) listeners and hateful comments on social media, including threats to their physical safety and mental well-being. Outlets have a responsibility to support both staffers and freelancers who face off- and online harassment for their work or reporting, in all its forms. 

We have also clarified best practices around payment terms and expectations. Our members consistently tell us that clients who cannot meet at least a 15-day payment deadline are few and far between, and most are able to pay invoices upon receipt. This edition of the guide clarifies that independent audio professionals should submit invoices promptly when work is delivered, and companies should pay those invoices promptly. Unless other terms have been agreed to in advance, AIR strongly encourages companies to pay invoices within a maximum of 15 days, and to commit to paying late fees when invoices are not paid promptly. We also encourage outlets to adopt the payment standards established in New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act

AIR’s staff and members periodically update the Guide (most recently in 2019 and 2020) to reflect changes in the fast-evolving audio landscape—particularly as podcasting continues to grow as a vibrant, in-demand medium for audio work. 

In addition to revisions for clarity, this latest version of the guide is newly organized into sections: Compensation; Communication; Working Relationship; Contract Terms; Copyright & Credit; and Finished Work. 

Many independent audio professionals move more fluidly between independently-produced podcasts and freelance broadcast radio work that spans a wide spectrum of genres. Clearly and explicitly aligning on each party’s expectations is key to building mutually respectful relationships between audio professionals and the outlets that hire them. This communication channel supports audio professionals in building sustainable careers and ensures that outlets are in a strong position to engage a talented, expansive and experienced slate of independent contributors. 

Previously, AIR referred to this educational resource as the “Code of Fair Practices.” Moving forward, it will now be referred to as the Guide to Fair Practice.