If you know me at all, you know that I do my best to offer positive, useful information about the Voiceover Industry. Plain facts. No drama. But sometimes, I need to give you some hair-on-fire, immediately actionable advice about real urgent threats from predators. This is one of those times.
And today’s topic is A.I.
A.I. or Artificial Intelligence, per Wikipedia: is intelligence—perceiving, synthesizing, and inferring information—demonstrated by machines, as opposed to intelligence displayed by humans or by other animals.
At first blush, A.I. seems to be technology that can save us all time, money and labor. But what does it mean for our (Voiceover) industry? In a word; potential disaster. Ok that’s two words, but intentionally placed to get your attention and raise an alarm. If you provide your voice work in this area, you potentially undermine decades of hard-won protections to our livelihoods as actors and risk killing your own career – in some cases, before you even get started!
Very soon, if unchecked and unregulated, A.I. can replace you and me and our ability to make a living. It is the goal of many A.I. companies to offer OUR voices to buyers with little or no compensation to us and often without our knowledge!
WHAT DO I DO?
So what can you do to protect yourself and all of our colleagues?
NEVER do voice work for an Artificial Intelligence company. They may offer you a seemingly big paycheck, but once they have your voice, you’ll never be paid for it again. And worse… they will own your voice and may sue you if try to use it on other projects! This is a long game, and most people make a living in this industry from residuals. You provide your voice for A.I. – that’s it. One check. No residuals. Forever.
WHO’S BEHIND THIS?
Some of the predatory pay-to-play companies have worded their contracts so they can steal your AUDITIONS and use them to train the A.I. software.
READ YOUR CONTRACTS!!
You need to READ YOUR CONTRACTS!!! In some cases, they intend to use your voice to train their cloning generators, and could ultimately SUE YOU FOR USING YOUR OWN VOICE IN THE FUTURE!!! I put this in all caps because it’s a very real possibility!
A.I. is encroaching on all markets, but we can still protect ourselves and our instruments if we’re diligent. The union (SAG-AFTRA) as of March 2023 included some protections in contract language to help us. It reads as follows: “The terms and conditions involving rights to digitally simulate a performer to create new performances must be bargained with the union,”
“Companies are required to bargain with SAG-AFTRA before attempting to acquire these rights in individual performers’ contracts. To attempt to circumvent SAG-AFTRA and deal directly with the performers on these issues is a clear violation of the NLRA.”
Even if you’re non-union, you can still include language like this in your contracts. NAVA – or the National Association of Voice Actors has put together a free, downloadable rider that you can attach to ANY contract that will help protect you. Here’s the link to their site: https://navavoices.org/2023/01/23/artificial-intelligence-rider/
Again, read what you’re signing and make sure there are provisions for this if there’s any possibility of re-use of the tracks you record.
Nobody is going to be more interested in protecting you and your career than you. Please be proactive. Stay alert. And READ YOUR CONTRACTS.
End rant. Thanks for listening.