2023 Audio Verse Awards Patch Notes

Letter From the Chair

What a splendid moment to gather here today and bask in the radiant diversity and boundless vitality of the world of Audio Fiction. In the face of life’s trials and tribulations, we find ourselves united by a shared love—a love for storytelling that knows no boundaries and speaks to every heart, regardless of who we are or where we come from.

In 2021, life presented its challenges, prompting me to step away from my role as chair. During my absence, the stage was brilliantly held by Adam Blanford, who steered the ship gracefully and determinedly. But life’s ever-changing script saw us reunited in 2023, rekindling our passion and commitment to celebrating this remarkable medium.

As we embark on this new season, our hearts are filled with the anticipation and excitement that only audio fiction can ignite. It’s a time when we come together to recognize and honor the vibrant tapestry of voices, stories, and talents that make up the world of Audio Verse.

Last year’s awards season was nothing short of a grand symphony, a celebration of voices that resonated from every corner of our community. With over 190 nominations across various categories, we reveled in the joy of creativity. It was a testament to the profound passion and dedication that pulses through the veins of our community—a community that thrives on the diversity of its narratives and characters.

We’ve added new team members to ensure we have the capacity to handle the myriad of challenges faced in an awards season and help improve accessibility for our forms and ballots. This way, we can add to the celebratory spirit that pervades awards season.

As we raise our glasses to toast another year of storytelling magic, we hope for a year of exuberant growth and transformation within the audio fiction community and the awards themselves. Let us savor this journey together, embracing the myriad voices and perspectives that enrich our world.

-Colin Kelly Rodriguez

A Look at Last Year

2022 saw an Audioverse of 3,398 Nominees cast and crewing 192 Productions, 98 new, and 140 of them had showcases. 817 became finalists for 70 Productions, only to see 164 crowned for 47 shows. That’s 4.82% of those nominated, with only 24.04% becoming finalists.

Our email list grew to 14,202, with 6,303 people opening the last email we sent! Voting meanwhile skewed 25.05% Active Members during Finalist Voting, and 15,553 votes were cast. During final voting, 64,181 votes were cast, with only 16.3% being active contributors to audio fiction. But most importantly, 78% of you found a new show to listen to, thanks to the awards. 

Ten Years Ago…

  • The Audio Verse Awards’ founding members were Landon Beall, Alex Gilmore, Colin Kelly Rodriguez, and Daniel Whitelaw under then-chair Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard.
  • For fun, here’s the original plan we put together for the awards in 2013, with its optimistic 15-week timeline: ah, the folly of youth. It had 43 categories then. 
  • That first year saw us receiving 403 nominations, and one round of voting saw 2,492 votes cast for a single nominee in each category. 

The 2023 Audio Verse Awards Team

  • Landon Beall – Webmaster
  • Adam Blanford – Second Chair, Ballot Design
  • Pedro Musella – Graphic Designer
  • Alexandra Pal – Data Scientist
  • Samuel Robinson – Accessibility Consultant
  • Chrisi Talyn Saje – Community Manager 
  • Erin Sellars – Nominee Showcase Producer
  • Damian Szydlo – Juried Ratings and Sponsorships
  • Evo Terra – Hall of Fame
  • Daniel Whitelaw – Senior Graphic Designer
  • Chloe Wilson – Accounting, Project Management
  • with Colin Kelly Rodriguez – Chair

The Current Audio Verse Awards Categories

In 2023, we abandon the distinction between Audio Plays and other storytelling productions in favor of the Scripted distinction. While the intent was to allow single-person productions a space to shine, the number of single-cast with sound design needs to be more significant to justify the split in disciplines. We are also recombining the environment and action sound design as there was not enough variation in the winners to justify the distinction and shows where those are separate sound designers are fewer these days. The resulting reduction will make the categories more streamlined.

We will have 27 categories this year, with half specifically for new productions that premiered last year.

  • Music Categories
    • Original Composition for a (new) Production
  • Sound Categories
    • Sound Design in a (new) Production
  • Writing Categories
    • Writing of a (new) Scripted Production
  • Directing Categories
    • Player Direction of (a new/an) Improvised Production
    • Vocal Direction of a (new) Scripted Production
    • Music Direction of a (new) Production
  • Voice Categories
    • Guest Player in (a new/an) Improvised Production
    • Player in (a new/an) Improvised Production
    • Performance of a Guest Role in a (new) Scripted Production
    • Performance of a Role in a (new) Scripted  Production
    • The Richard Nadolny Award for Narrating Excellence
  • Art Categories
    • Cover Art for a (new) Production
  • Production Categories
    • (New) Improvised Production
    • (New) Scripted Production

2023 AVA Voting Process

This is always an estimation, as we’ve learned to take our time to ensure everything is in place before moving forward. We cannot adjust the ballot after voting has begun, after all.

Open Nominations

  • Open Nominations run from September 10th to 30th, spanning roughly three weeks
  • A one-time $25 nomination fee per production covers eligibility checks, the nominee showcase episode, and ensuring a fair voting process, among other operational costs.
  • Productions can apply for sponsorship; they are automatically nominated once sponsored.
  • It’s important to note that nominations are for entire productions, not individual team members, although individual recognition comes later during finalist and winner announcements.
  • You can submit your nominee showcase within the same nomination form, including a recorded intro, an episode or sample clip, and an optional transcript. This will be used for judging the Juried Ratings, though jurors are encouraged to listen to all eligible content.
  • Should the nomination form be soft-opened for testing, any complete submissions made during that time will still be honored.

Nominee Showcases and Finalist Voting

  • Finalist Voting is planned for two weeks, starting after October 10th but ending by the 30th. However, these dates may shift depending on when the nominee list is finalized and all showcases are released.
  • The ballot simplifies voting by categorizing productions in two questions: ranking shows which premiered in the past year or not within those.
  • We use the Modified Borda Count for vote tallying, which rewards a more comprehensive ranking. The more shows you rank, the greater your influence. This encourages thoughtful ranking across categories and levels the playing field for all.
  • Options on the ballot will also be randomized to minimize bias, and participants must rank at least one nominee in each category, especially as categories are designated for new shows.

Finalist Announcement and Final Voting

  • The Winner Voting phase is also slated to last two weeks, with exact dates contingent upon finalizing the list of finalists. We intend to kick off this voting phase simultaneously with the announcement of the finalists, similar to last year’s approach.
  • Like in the Finalist Voting round, the Modified Borda Count method will encourage voters to rank multiple shows for a more nuanced and impactful vote. The more shows you rank, the more weight your ballot carries, thereby influencing the outcome in a balanced manner.

Juried Ratings and Award Winner Announcement

  • Ballots will be independently checked for fairness by a review team before any winner announcements are prepared, graphics made, or any other preparations.
  • Ratings will be collected from Jurors, averaged, and tabulated.
  • Award Winners and Ratings will be revealed in a special video at least one month after voting closes, with January as the earliest possibility.
  • Commemorative posters of the winner certificates will be available after the announcement.

Changes to the Winner Tabulation

We are becoming a hybrid model, as we have the Juried Ratings, the Staff-Selected Narrator Award, and the Public Vote Awards. 

Beginning this year, we will recognize a “Most Popular” in the category, who will be recognized regardless of their final Borda ranking as first past the post. Five Total winners will continue to be recognized using their Borda score. All will be considered public vote winners, as any additional awards are bonuses to build value for the community.

Introducing… the Audio Verse Ratings

People have been requesting a juried-based version of the AVAs since its inception. While our foundation was to provide an alternative to traditional juried awards, we understand the value and appeal such a system presents. Our commitment to diverse judging panels for the primary awards remains unwavering. Nevertheless, we’re aware of inherent challenges like adjudicator bias, opacity, and fluctuating judging criteria in juried awards.

In response, we’re unveiling the Audio Verse Ratings system, inspired by tried-and-true assessment methods found in concert band and choir juries.