Drawing some of the biggest names in the business and focusing on the changing nature of the industry, the 21st annual Audio Publishers Association Conference kicked off Wednesday morning at the Javits Center in New York City.
"Technology has changed our industry a lot—recording at home, more recordings happening, business models changing—so, it's really all about being prepared for what those changes mean," said APA executive director Michele Cobb about this year's programming. "We're trying to give tips as the industry changes, as technology changes, on what you can do to roll with those changes."
A keynote address titled "Nailing Loyalty in the Era of the Mobile, Social, & ADHD Customer" from entrepreneur and marketing guru Peter Shankman and a panel on securing coverage by building relationships with reviewers were just the start of a jam-packed day dedicated to all things audio.
Steve Smith, publisher at Oasis Audio, praised Shankman's keynote and its focus on engaging with current customers and generating new clients.
"It was a great motivator to start the day," Smith said. "We have to focus on what our customers want and that's one of the things I want to learn more about at this conference and [Shankman] addressed that right away."
This year's conference hosted panels on topics ranging from social media and online video strategy to consumer behavior and narration best practices. Among the highlights were sessions on building and maintaining a career in the audio industry; the habits of successful narrators; and the importance of authors, narrators, and publishers working together to promote new releases.
According to Anthony Goff, vice president and publisher at Hachette Audio, a key part of APAC is the networking opportunities: "It's a major part for me to come to this show and see people reconnect with people and hear some of the latest things people are trying to do to keep the growth alive and well, and really just celebrate audio for a couple of hours."
This year's conference again featured the popular speed dating session—which attempts to pair voice talent and audiobook casting directors—and the Listening Lounge, in which some of the best narrators in the business share live excerpts of their work.
This year, Listening Lounge featured the likes of Simon Vance, Dion Graham, Davina Porter, Nicola Barber, Katherine Kellgren, Karen White, Grover Gardner, and Scott Brick, and was emceed by Audie Award-winning narrator Johnny Heller.
"[Listening Lounge] provides me with the opportunity to hear stories well told," Heller said. "The best narrators in the business sharing five-minute bits of wonderfulness. I think it's what audiobooks and, for that matter, the whole convention is all about. This is why producers produce, writers write, and actors act."