Awards: Germany’s Zebralution Backs a New IPG Audio Award in the UK

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The first audio award in the Independent Publishing Awards program in the UK is backed by digital media distributor Zebralution.

The United Kingdom’s Independent Publishers Guild adds an audio category to its awards this year, in partnership with Zebralution. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Tuba Acik

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Deadline for Entries: February 25
As many Publishing Perspectives readers know, Zebralution is a German distribution company working in audiobooks, podcasts, and record labels. It was founded in 2004 as a distributor of independent music labels in Europe and today reports operating internationally from offices in six countries working with 450 music labels and audio publishers.

As the co-founding (with Sascha Lazimbat) CEO Kurt Thielen has pointed out in recent years’ international publishing conference settings, the audiobooks and audio-drama side of its business has grown to be as big as its music-label trade. In 2018, the company created a podcast distribution-and-monetization subsidiary housed under the Zebra Audio brand

On Monday (January 24), Zebralution announced that it’s partnering with the United Kingdom’s Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) on the creation of a new audio award. The IPG awards program, geared of course to independent publishing, has been in operation since 2007 and is among the most closely watched in England’s very deep field of prize programs.

Zebralution–itself a member and the platinum sponsor of the Audie Awards-producing Audio Publishers Association led by executive director Michele Cobb—is also a member of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association.

It’s significant that the new audio honor is the first recognition of its kind for the IPG program. Its intent, per this week’s media messaging, is to “celebrate excellence in audio storytelling from the United Kingdom.”

In listing what the winner of the IPG-Zebralution audio award will receive, the company stresses that all but the first benefit requires the honored content be available on Spotify. This is what the asterisk indicates on the list of what the winner is to get:

  • 100-percent revenue share for an audiobook of choice (and choice of shop outlets) 
  • A banner for a month in lismio, the Zebralution-curated audio content app * 
  • An “Audiobook of The Week” spot in lismio * 
  • A playlist on Zebralution’s Spotify lismio profile announced as “Winner of IPG’s Audio Award,” with a year’s duration * 
  • A social media campaign * 
  • Spotify ad campaign *  

Bridget Shine

In a prepared statement, IPG CEO Bridget Shine is quoted, saying, “We’re excited to be launching the IPG Audio Award at the 2022 Independent Publishing Awards, and very grateful for Zebralution’s support in its first year.   

“This new category reflects the major importance of audio content to publishers and consumers now, and it will celebrate the particularly innovative responses and creative partnerships that independents have made in response to the growing demand.

“We’re looking forward to seeing our first round of entries and shining a light on IPG members’ success across the audio sector.”

There is a potential catch here for international publishing professionals, so let’s do a quick bit of disambiguation. The Independent Publishers Guild calls its awards the Independent Publishing Awards. Nothing wrong with that. But be aware that those awards often are logo-ed as “IPA,” which could be confused with the International Publishers Association based in Geneva. This “IPA” is the awards program from IPG and set in the United Kingdom.

Kurt Thielen

And speaking for Zebralution, Thielen is quoted, saying, “Zebralution’s roots lie in the independent music industry and ties with independent publishers are vital to our audiobook business now, too.  

“It’s a pleasure for us to contribute to the IPG Audio Award and to strengthen the links to the IPG and every independent in the UK even more.

“Looking for new ways to reach listeners has always been the strength of independents, and in order to compete with huge international conglomerates this is more important than ever.” 

In the discussion on the IPG’s site about its new category of award in audio, we read, “The audio award is given for high achievement in audiobooks and other spoken content. Entries should bring to life the journeys of audio products including production, marketing and publicity, and explain any partnerships behind them.

“Judges will want to see evidence of commercial success in downloads, streaming and physical sales: not necessarily bestseller status, but relative to publishers’ resources and expectations. They will consider everything from single titles to full audio strategies. Publishers’ podcasts and other forms of audio are also eligible if they demonstrate a positive impact on revenue and profile.”

Entries are limited to IPG members, and the registration portal is here. Entries are for content created in calendar year 2021, and more information on the IPG awards is here.


More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here, more on the Audie Awards is here, more on the Audio Publishers Association is here, more on the Independent Publishers Guild is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s market is here. More from us on publishing and book awards is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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