Digital Rebel

Global digital download deal announced for Blake’s 7 audio dramas

LONDON, May 20, 2010: UK-based independent production company B7 Productions has announced a new partnership with Andrews UK Distributors (AUK) which will see the BLAKE’S 7 range of full-cast audio dramas (published under B7 Media) available as digital downloads across the world for the first time.

Based on Terry Nation’s seminal 70s science fiction TV series, these ‘re‑imagined’ BLAKE’S 7 audio adventures, described by news-stand magazine SciFiNow as “… a bold and revitalising addition to the Blake’s 7 story” and by SFFAudio.com as “… morally complex, deeply noir,” are independently produced and financed by B7 Productions. A new series of BLAKE’S 7 audio prequels is soon to be broadcast on BBC Radio 7 from 31 May 2010.

AUK provides digital audio content to download stores, including iTunes and Amazon Music, and streaming services Spotify and Last.Fm, meaning B7 Productions’ full audio drama catalogue will shortly be available to fans across the world as digital downloads. With coverage of over 200 spoken‑word and music download sites worldwide, whoever fans choose as their preferred audio provider it is almost certain that they will now have access to the all-new Audio Adventures series set in the BLAKE’S 7 universe.

Paul Andrews, CEO of AUK said; “We are delighted to have expanded on our innovative partnership with B7 Media, and to make their industry-leading full-cast audio dramas available to a worldwide audience in digital download format. Having worked with B7 Media for a number of years, we are excited about the potential this new agreement gives both companies, and, most importantly of all, ensures fans worldwide of Blake’s 7 – and Sci-fi in general – now have access to a premium back-catalogue of titles, and critically acclaimed new releases.”

B7 Production’s Managing Director Andrew Mark Sewell believes that it’s vital for independent radio drama producers to seek alternative channels and platforms for their creative output. Platforms where the Producer has much more, if not complete, creative and commercial control.

As Sewell is keen to point out, B7 Productions was one of the first Independent Producers to recognise the distinctive nature of this new way of delivering audio drama programming to a growing audience. In 2008, it brokered an agreement with EQUITY that set out a basic framework to provide contractual rights for performers appearing in a direct-to-consumer release (via podcast downloads, audio streaming and subsequent CD releases). This ground-breaking deal is considered to be the first of its kind in the UK, and quite possibly the first in the world.

Since the agreement, B7 Productions has successfully produced an on-going series of BLAKE’S 7 audio dramas, many of which have been acquired and broadcast, first on the SCI FI Play broadband player section of the SCI FI channel website and more recently on BBC Radio 7, thus reversing the traditional route of an audio production being commissioned by the broadcaster and ending with a CD release.

Sewell adds; “These are tough times for independent radio drama production but producers have been slow to exploit rights in their audio productions properly, relying upon the traditional broadcast commission/distributor model. Given reduced budgets and the low royalties generally paid by distributors, this is no longer a sustainable model for running a success audio production business or ensuring the broadest possible range of original radio drama production.”

Sewell believes that the long-term future for niche, but nonetheless popular, audio drama, such as fantasy and science fiction, will only be secured by adopting a more forward-thinking partnership with distributors, such as AUK, to produce and distribute its audio content via multiple platforms and devices both in the UK and internationally.

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