The digital audiobook industry is booming. In the last few years, spoken-word books have grown by 20 percent or more, and the trend is on track to meet or exceed that growth rate this year. Amid this growth, a new audio content and distribution company has emerged: RBmedia. The launch of RBmedia includes the company’s acquisition of Audiobooks.com, which since 2011 has produced digital audiobooks and offered them on-demand to consumers. Financial backing for this new company comes from Shamrock Capital, a private equity firm that focuses on the communications, media, and entertainment sectors.
“Not only do we produce top-quality spoken audio content, we’ve also built a digital media technology platform to deliver hundreds of thousands of digital media titles, and we reach millions of consumers around the world through numerous channels,” says Tom MacIsaac, Chief Executive Officer of RBmedia.
The new digital audio company brings together both of the pillars of the spoken audio sector: production and distribution. “Today there are lots of new ways to consume audio in home, on mobile, in the car,” said John Shea of RBmedia. “This new organization reaches millions of consumers wherever they are.”
The audiobook industry has come a long way from the cassette tape and CD formats of yesteryear. Today, consumers have a range of digital media technologies to choose from. “Spoken word is trending upwards,” said Ian Small, CEO of Audiobooks.com. These days, consumers listen to digital books anywhere: via smartphone, tablets, smart watches; in their cars via Android Auto and Apple Car, and at home via platforms such as Sonos, Amazon Echo, and Google Home.
Spoken Word Book Production
On the production side, the new company will oversee the publication of 30,000 proprietary digital audiobook titles from authors including Danielle Steel, Dean Koontz, and J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as dozens of award-winning authors.
RBmedia uses professional narrators, directors and actors for its productions. “Author contracts are typically done through an agent,” said John Shea, “though indie authors can contact our content acquisition teams via the websites of our publishing imprints.” Imprints include Recorded Books, HighBridge Audio, Tantor Media, ChristianAudio, W.F. Howes (U.K.) and Wavesound (Australia).
On the distribution side, the RBmedia technology platform distributes more than 700,000 digital media titles. The company manages consumer distribution channels including library partnerships, and digital resellers including Amazon’s Audible.
A large part of RBmedia’s new distribution services includes the app-based subscription service, which delivers more than 100,000 titles directly to consumers.
With the Audiobook.com app, subscribers can listen on Apple and Android devices. This content is also available on other devices for home and automobile including Sonos, tvOS, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and in-car infotainment systems in some car models from GM, Jaguar and Land Rover. Because consumers are constantly moving from location to location and using many devices, Cloud Bookmarking technology lets users synchronize bookmarks across many devices if they choose to listen in their car, their home or on the go via mobile platforms.
More Than Books
The company distributes more than 700,000 titles. The RBmedia portfolio includes mostly audiobooks but also handles digital media formats including online learning, games and e-magazines.
RBmedia is based in Maryland and will have about 400 employees.