Anatomy of an Audiobook, Part 1
View this email in your browser
Forward to Friend

In this issue

Anatomy of an Audiobook, Part 1
Sound Bits
Recent Projects

“I love audio books, and when I paint I’m always listening to a book. I find that my imagination really takes flight in the painting process when I’m listening to audio books.”

Thomas Kinkade

Anatomy of an Audiobook, Part 1

There was a panic in 2009 during the recession, and it wasn't about housing. Or at least traditional houses. Publishing houses were facing the pinch as sales were cut in half. When it came to audiobooks, sales were down 20 percent mid-year. One of the reasons was obvious – lack of disposable income. Millions of workers were laid off and even more were holding on to their precious cash reserves. But a few other reasons were staring the publishers in the face. One was the sky-high price of audiobooks. The other was the changing pace of life. Between carting kids around, going to work, and running errands, a book is a commitment of precious time. 

Despite the wrecked economy, smartphones and tablets started to infiltrate our daily lives. These little on-the-go media centers were a gift to publishers. Downloading and listening to audiobooks became convenient - and cheaper. Traditionally, publishers could sink upwards of $50,000 in production costs per title, with much of that towards CD packaging, production, and distribution. Companies like Audible (a subsidiary of Amazon) could produce titles for much less, thanks to downloading.

As a result, the number of audiobook titles have surged from 7,000 in 2011, to 35,000 in 2013. And that number is growing. Scribd subscribers logged 270,000 listening hours in two months when 30,000 audiobooks were added to their library in 2014. Faster internet speeds, better digital audio software, and more narrators jumping onto the bandwagon are helping to fuel the renaissance of audiobooks.

One of these narrators, Brad Wills, has been narrating audiobooks since 2013. Brad has recorded more than thirty books, a baker's dozen of those with Dynamix since 2014. He mostly reads in the historical romance genre, but also in historical adventure, gothic horror, and fantasy. Brad also has more than 25 years of professional acting experience, from Broadway to nationally acclaimed musical tours. I recently sat down with Brad and talked with him about his thoughts and experiences as an audiobook narrator and producer. Surprisingly, his three decades of professional acting did little to prepare him for his new role.

"I’ve never felt like I benefitted from any kind of training or acting," Brad told me. "Everything I do is instinctual. It’s stuff I’ve done my entire life. I’ve always imitated people, I’ve always had crazy voices ever since I can remember."

But being an audiobook narrator can be tough at first, even to the most seasoned stage actor. "I remember my very first session with my very first book," Brad lamented. "I thought 'this guy’s going to throw me out of the studio, and I’m never going to do this again.' It took me about a year before I was able to read with any consistency and not make any mistakes."

Now, Brad is not only a narrator, but a producer. When asked what this expanded role is, Brad replied, "To give technically the best performance and the best quality production that you can give. It’s a matter of clean editing, clean recording, rhythm, tempo. And I think what is also really beneficial is to have an engineer that you can really trust, offer good input." In this dual role as producer/narrator, Brad emphasizes that he must make sure that "you as the narrator deliver the intent of the piece - not to lose track of it, keep it clear for the listener, not lose track of the story, not lose track of the line, or where a paragraph happens to be going at any time."

Also as a producer, Brad must find the right studio and engineer. Having worked with two other studios besides Dynamix, his primary goal in finding someplace to record has always been to "look for an engineer that’s been in the business a long time. I look for somebody who has a more than adequate setup. I look for some place that's pretty much state of the art." A studio and engineer with audiobook experience is crucial. "It’s very, very different from doing a radio spot, because there’s no music, no sound effects," Brad explains. "It has to be clean, no noise, no background noise. Editing - someone who will take the time to finesse it down to the most minuscule control management points."

With hundreds of thousands of audiobooks out there now, it's not surprising that there is a huge range in technical quality. "I’ve read reviews by people who have listened to books that have been poorly edited and produced," he said. "They’ll mention it in their notes and reviews: 'It’s really bad,' 'a line is repeated here,' 'I could hear dogs barking in the background,' and 'It sounds like the person recorded this sitting at their kitchen table.' So people know."

No matter the budget, Brad cares "about the product that goes out there. It has my name on it, and it will have the engineer’s stamp on it as well."

In the next newsletter, we'll dig down deep into character development, preparation, and tips for budding audiobook narrators. 

Sound Bits

Audio in the News

Ebay sellers are asking outrageous prices for vintage Apple iPods

The vast majority of electronics don't become collectibles — they become e-waste. But Apple's not like other computer companies. Its cult-like following leads fans to collect old Apple products long after they're obsolete. 
Read it on


Why fans of vintage vinyl love this brand-new machine

A British company just unveiled the hottest new machine for vinyl fans: the only new record-playing jukebox available anywhere in the world. 
Read it on

This Mac app makes cheap headphones sound way better

There's an app for Macs called Boom 2 that helps unleash the true potential of any headphones, including those cheap earbuds that came with your smartphone purchase. 
Read it on

The real reason we hate the sound of nails on a blackboard

In a new study by the University of Cologne in Germany, researchers had participants listen to audio clips of people scraping their nails against a chalkboard, monitoring the changes in each listener's blood pressure and heart rate. 
Read it on

This audio training course helps you hear music like a producer

Have you ever tried and failed to explain the sound of an effect that's been applied to a certain piece of music you love? Pro Audio Essentials is a new "game-based course" being offered by audio technology company iZotope. 
Read it on

Remembering Prince: Engineer "Cubby" Colby

Audio engineer Robert “Cubby” Colby, who extensively worked with Prince during what could be considered the height of his Purple reign: 1980 through 1988, remembers Prince.
Read it on

Classic Track: "Open Arms," Journey

VH-1 named it the greatest power ballad of all time, and even though it only went to Number 2 on the Billboard charts in February 1982, “Open Arms” remains Journey’s biggest U.S. hit. 
Read it on

Google Glass-based system identifies you by the sound of your skull

SkullConduct tech uses an audio signal played through smartglasses to verify users' identity. 
Read it on

Fenicks Audio says it created the world’s best computer speakers, and they might be right

When you think of high-end audio, computer speakers are likely last type of system that crosses your mind. Swiss company Feniks Audio is looking to change that, and it wants you to help bring its dream to life. 
Read it on

Recent Projects

  • Location audio in Pikeville, KY for upcoming episode of The Travel Channel's "Mysteries at the Museum" (Optomen, New York, NY)
  • "Shadowmoor", an audiobook by Kathryn Le Veque. Narrated by Brad Wills
  • Keeneland "Derby Wagering" radio (Team Cornett, Lexington, KY)
  • Training and education modules for internal communications and sales training (Lexmark International, Lexington, KY)
  • A&W Restaurants "Salted Caramel Treats" and "Chicken Tenders" TV spots (Team Cornett, Lexington, KY)
  • A&W Restaurants "Discovery Day" prospective franchisee video (Team Cornett, Lexington, KY)
  • "House Key" TV campaign (East Kentucky Power, Winchester, KY)
  • "How To Festival" TV spot (Lexington Public Library, Lexington, KY)
  • Blue Grass Airpot "Flights of Summer" radio (Stablemate Creative, Lexington, KY)
  • TV/radio campaigns for "Frankie Justice for State Representative," "Albert Robinson for State Senate," "Daniel Elliot for State Representative," and "Adam Koenig for State Representative" (Grit Creative, Frankfort, KY)

In Production

Copyright © 2016 Dynamix Productions, Inc., All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp