Archie Maddocks, a writer and comedian who was the Writer in Residence in BBC Radio Drama London from September 2018 to March 2019, says that the beauty of radio drama is that, because you can't see it, it forces you to pay greater attention to what you're listening to. "In doing that, I noticed the depth of character, the wonderful soundscapes that created nuanced and complex atmospherics," he writes in his post on the BBC blog
. "Within a surge of new shows catering to all kinds of listeners, there's been a wave of fictional audio dramas that breathe new life into [the] format." In fact, Financial Times
goes as far as to say that the future is better in audio.
One of the famous book authors in Russia, Grigori Chkhartishvili (writes under his pen name Boris Akunin), has worked closely with Storytel to create an entirely new audiowork, Просто Маса, written specifically as an audio drama (the book and e-book were published later). Since this was created as an "audio text" straight away, there were a lot of songs and music implemented into the storyline, and the author tried to write everything that would make the novel sound right. He explains that now, the audio readers of his work outnumber his book readers, and even e-book readers.
With the audio drama field expanding, different monetization models have been established: according to Radio Future Africa
, United Kingdom's Big Finish has established a model of turning TV shows like Doctor Who or The Avengers into commercial audio dramas. In the United States, podcasts such as the thriller Homecoming and Lime Town achieved the opposite by making the transition to television, while sci-fi shows Steal the Stars and The Bright Sessions have been turned into novelisations.
Although the concept of audio drama is relatively new and many are doubtful of whether it will stand the test of time, I think that this is only the beginning. If we look at the film industry, the three main providers of movies are Hollywood, Bollywood, and Nollywood (Nigeria). Hollywood produces about a few hundred movies per year, and, according to Statista
, a total of 786 movies were released in the United States and Canada in 2019, over 90 fewer than were released in the previous year. Bollywood makes about a thousand movies annually, with Nollywood producing more than two thousand. Even if we take the number of films produced globally per year, the amount would still be counted in thousands.
Looking at the book industry, however, there are 2.2 million books published every year. As seen from APA's 2020 press release, there were 60,303 new titles produced in 2019, compared to 44,685 in 2018. The numbers are constantly growing, which means that we could potentially be talking in hundreds of thousands of published audiobooks in the near future. Hypothetically speaking, if audio drama take up only 10% of the current audiobook industry, this is still a significant amount, and creates a new niche that offers opportunities for composers, perhaps even more than the film industry.