April 2009 Archives

A Hitchhikers Guide to Audiobooks (again)

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A UK survey published last year (and which I wrote about in a previous Rockford Blog) voted The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Primary Phase, by Douglas Adams, read by a full BBC cast) as the nation's most popular audiobook for adults and children.

As I said at the time, it's great. It's a fantastic, classic production. You should get it!

But it was made thirty years ago. Nothing wrong with that either perhaps. But why, when computer technology has brought high quality audio production within the grasp of every project studio, are there no more Hitchhikers-style adventures in sound? It seems to me that the phrase 'audio book' now means no more than an actor or author in a studio reading a book.  

Hitchhiker is so much more than this - a wonderful story, of course, but also a real adventure in sound with narration, characters, music and sound effects.

The answer to the lack of creativity is certainly lack of budget... and laziness. Producing complete audio adventures is a real undertaking. A labour of love and, I'm afraid, commercial pressures make few allowances for the sort of dedication required.

Unless of course you're mad enough to have locked yourself in a darkened room for three years to produce one! Rockford's Rock Opera is our unique adventure in sound. If you love Hitchhiker, you'll love this too (so will your kids) and, because it's written by Steve Punt, there's a Douglas Adams connection there too. Part One is free so you can judge for yourself!

This blog will tell the story of how Rockford's Rock Opera is now reaching out, with a free audiobook, from our attic to the world. 

Audiobooks from the BBC

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The BBC recently announced that over 1,000,000 audiobooks had now been downloaded from its website.

The top five most downloaded audiobook titles were Blackadder Goes Forth, The Mighty Boosh, A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (great book which we've used a lot in the creation of Rockford's Rock Opera), The Adventure of English: The Biography of English by Melvyn Bragg and The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (not great!).

A BBC spokesperson said, and I quote:

"Sales of audio downloads in the USA are already big news but as with many trends that start in the States we are starting to notice the trend moving over here - as evidenced by our surpassing a million download sales for the first time. We currently sell approximately three and a half times more downloads to US customers but following such a strong year in 08/09 we expect this gap to close in 09/10."

So it's all good news for the lovers of audiobooks... and Rockford's Rock Opera! 

Barack Obama interrupts Audio Book Recording

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There was I, recording vocals for demos for Rockford's Rock Opera Part 4 when I was interrupted by an incredible din coming from outside. It was about 7.30pm last night and I was up in the attic, as usual, writing songs.

Suddenly the house shook and my vocal 'take' (possibly the best sounding singing since John Lennon sang 'Revolution' - I wish) was ruined. Naturally I went to the window to see what on earth was going on and guess what? Four massive helicopters were flying overhead. Quite scary really...

Anyway, I soon found out - via Sky News - that it was non other than the American President, no less, who had trampled on my ducet tones. He was flying in Marine 1, having just arrived from the US at Stanstead Airport... and New Barnet was obviously on the flight path!

So, I'm thinking of keeping his rumble on the recording of RRO Part 4, just so I can write in the sleeve notes; "Additional sound effects: The President of the United States of America and entourage".

Just as well it isn't still George W or I would have been very upset. But I fancy President Obama would like our audio story and so I might just let him join in the fun.

Just as long as he doesn't make a habit of it.

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