Amid Audio Boom, Magazines Hire Actors to Voice Their Work
The New York actor William DeMeritt spent the better part of 2017 as William Shakespeare, portraying the poet in the US premier of Shakespeare in Love, a play adapted from the Oscar-winning film of the same name, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. The run began in February and ended in October, and included more than 120 performances. During the summer, DeMeritt also starred as Fenton in a shorter run of The Merry Wives of Windsor. At the height of the festival, he was performing in five shows a week, on some days playing Shakespeare for a matinee performance and Fenton on the outdoor stage the same night.
Between performances, he would often pick up work in a recording studio at Blackstone Audio, one of the biggest publishers of audiobooks in the country. Blackstone also happens to be headquartered in Ashland, just three miles down the road from one of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s main theaters. It was there that DeMeritt recorded the narration for a number of magazine articles, including “The First White President,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Atlantic published the article online in September, along with an embedded link to the audio version of the piece on SoundCloud. The same day, the piece was published on Audm, the mobile audio startup that had commissioned the recording and hired DeMeritt to read it.
Since it launched a year and a half ago, Audm has been quietly adding a variety of leading publications to its subscription-based distribution platform, which is available on a mobile app. The concept is so simple—professional voice actors read longform magazine articles—that it’s sort of surprising it didn’t already exist.