News & Announcements

Vogue ran a glowing review of Audible’s production of Billy Crystal’s Have a Nice Day, starring Annette Bening, Dick Cavett, Auli’i Cravalho, Rachel Dratch, Darrell Hammond, Kevin Kline, Robin Thede and others. It had a two-day run at the Minetta Lane Theatre in early October and is being released on Audible on Nov. 1.

The production is the latest from Audible’s fruitful run with physical productions that would later become audio plays: June saw Carey Mulligan’s one-woman show,Girls & Boys, after its run at the Royal Court Theatre in London; Patti Smith: Words and Music at The Minetta Lane had a three-night run in late September; and Aasif Mandvi’s one-man show Sakina’s Restaurant opened October 5, and will run through November 4. In May 2017, Audible also announced a $5 million fund for emerging playwrights as part of their effort to both create more content for their platform and widen the reach of emerging talents; they will produce Chisa Hutchinson’s Proof of Love in late 2018. “To celebrate live performance in the theater is one thing, but think of professional sports,” Audible’s CEO, Don Katz, told The New York Times last year: “There’s the game, but it’s also being projected to millions of other people in a really powerful way.”

 

Don with Patti Smith and Bette Midler at the Minetta Lane Theatre on Sept. 23.

For three evenings beginning Sept. 22, Patti Smith delivered a special spoken-word and music performance at the Minetta Lane Theatre for Audible theater.

In the show program, Don wrote:

Patti Smith’s creative output is stunning and timeless, from her distinctive stream-of-consciousness style poetry to her trailblazing punk rock in the 1970s to her National Book Award-winning memoir and Audible best-seller, Just Kids. And it is fitting we are celebrating her in Greenwich Village, the neighborhood that has been at the center of her artistic life.

I’m thrilled to welcome you as Patti, joined by her son, daughter and longtime band member Tony Shanahan, shares original spoken-word stories from her life while weaving in the music of her beloved catalog.

The performance will be available to Audible members on Nov. 2.

Read Vogue‘s review.

Audible on Friday announced a new benefit for members — two Audible Originals a month — beyond the monthly credit. In a voice note, Don introduced the benefit:

Audible Originals are a new genre of shorter programming written directly to the intimate listening aesthetic of Audible — they are written by novelists, journalists, playwrights, screenwriters, comedians and other talented creators. The Originals are then delivered to you as the kinds of powerful performances by gifted actors that so many millions of listeners have come to expect of an Audible listening experience.

The first month’s selection of Originals includes Michael Lewis’ first Audible Original, “The Coming Storm”, and Carey Mulligan’s acclaimed performance of “Girls & Boys.”

Read more in The Verge.

 

The Los Angeles Times on July 9 wrote about Audible Theater, focusing on John Lithgow’s one-man performance of “Stories by Heart,” an Audible Original. Audible Theater engages writers and actors with new storytelling ideas, who deliver words and performances for the intimate storytelling experience of Audible.

The Times piece quotes Don as saying: “In a matter of seconds, more people can be listening to an Audible original than can pack a 1,000-seat theater eight times per week for half a century.”

The reach of Lithgow’s critically acclaimed show had been limited to the 740 seats of the American Airlines Theatre. The recent Audible release, however, instantaneously expanded the potential audience into the millions.

As part of what Audible calls a commitment to expanding the reach, scope and impact of theater, the company has claimed the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York’s Greenwich Village as its creative home for live performances. It has also been commissioning established and emerging playwrights to write one- and two-person shows to be performed as Audible Originals.

Participants in Audible’s theater lineup say Minetta Lane is the linchpin in a program that aims to forge a wholly modern frontier for theater, pairing an age-old art form with technology in a way that not only democratizes access but also encourages artists to approach theater in new ways.

In celebration of Pride Month, Audible hosted a storytelling event at the Minetta Lane Theatre on June 25 inspired by the Audible production “The Path to Pride with Lance Bass and Nikki Levy.” Performers on stage included Dan Savage, Patti Harrison and Matteo Lane.

The title is free for download until July 31. All proceeds from the event went to the Trevor Project.

The New York Times ran a front-page story on Sunday, June 3, on the expanding range of writers — novelists, journalists, playwrights, screen writers, comedians — writing to the Audible listening aesthetic and conveying their powerfully performed words to Audible’s millions of listeners.

When Michael Lewis had an idea for his next book, a contemporary political narrative, he decided he would test it out first as a 10,000-word magazine article, as he often does before committing to a yearslong project.

But this time he made a surprising pivot. Instead of publishing the story in Vanity Fair, where he has been a contributing writer for nearly a decade, he sold it to Audible, the audiobook publisher and retailer.

“You’re not going to be able to read it, you’re only going to be able to listen to it,” Mr. Lewis said. “I’ve become Audible’s first magazine writer.”

Mr. Lewis — arguably one of the most successful nonfiction writers working today, with book sales topping 10 million copies — is betting Audible will expand his audience and draw even more people to his work. Last month, he signed a multiyear contract with Audible for four audio original stories, with the first scheduled to come out in July. Mr. Lewis, who wouldn’t reveal further details about the story, plans to narrate it himself.

It quotes Don as saying: “We’re scripting to this new aesthetic. This wasn’t a full fledged media category before, it was a tiny little Siberia stuck in book publishing, and it shouldn’t have been.”

Don and Gov. Phil Murphy delivered keynote addresses at a policy forum centered on how New Jersey can drive economic growth in its cities by attracting high-growth tech companies and tech talent.

Don said at the April 30 event at NJPAC:

We can indeed work together to redirect the collective genius of the state’s leaders and institutions and become better at targeting billions of dollars of public investment. We can stop the instinct to look backwards, to sustain the entrenched and the status quo, or at least stop looking sideways, as this has kept innovation, new job creation, taxable revenue and equality idling versus coursing forward in our state for too long.

We can get best practices from the cutting edge all over the world. We can create a new consensus around big visions and new action plans. All of this can change the state’s narrative for the better. And we can surely usher in what this talented governor has called “new businesses working at the cutting edge of innovation.”

Watch the NJTV clip below for more.

In an interview with Business Insider’s podcast “Success! How I Did It,” Don discusses his time as a foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone in the ’70s, Audible’s founding and early days, the relationship with Amazon and his commitment to Newark.

My whole thing was: “What do these things mean, as opposed to what they do?” The Rolling Stone idea was you’d get close to, as I did, to terrorists, or to people throughout the ’70s who were fighting wars of liberation, willing to die for a cause. What was it like to have that happen? Then when I wrote books about business — and I wrote a book about Sears, a 600-page tome; I wrote a book about Nike. I asked: What do these companies mean to all the constituents around them and to the culture in general?

I think that allowed Audible to grow up as a company that was really consistent about opening up opportunities to consumers in particular. This weirdness of customer centricity is what I bonded with Jeff Bezos on, where you really are working backwards from a different idea. How can you actually import something profound to people, because of the power of an organization, as opposed to measuring yourself in dollars and cents or just permutations on a theme?

Listen to it below and see the full transcript here.

“Harry Clarke,” the one-man show starring Tony winner Billy Crudup and produced by Audible, opened at the Minetta Lane Theatre on Sunday, March 18.

The highly acclaimed production, written by David Cale, had a limited run in late 2017 at the Vineyard Theater, and Audible is extending its run at the Minetta Lane Theatre. Audible is also offering the play, written by playwright David Cale, as a downloadable audio program, making it available to Audible’s millions of customers — one part of a larger effort to project outstanding dramatic performances beyond the stage.

“I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with a play that smart and that intense,” Don told The New York Times in a Feb. 14 story.

Don and actor Billy Crudup

Nine tech startups took to a stage on the ice at the Prudential Center for Newark Venture Partners’ third ever Demo Day to present their businesses — and showcase the progress the venture fund has made in bringing exciting companies to join Audible in boosting Newark’s tech ecosystem.

The companies presenting on Jan. 17 were among 40 that the venture fund and accelerator has invested in since its 2016 launch, and include an AI-powered contact center and a startup turning food waste into new products.

“In just a couple of years, to have come this far — to have seen an idea flourish so far beyond my reasonable expectations — is personally gratifying,” Don, NVP’s founder, said at the event.

Watch NJTV’s story for more.