Audio Unbound (AU)

Created in 2020, Audio Unbound (AU) awards audio works that experiment with format, function, genre, and go beyond the typical podcast feed or broadcast airwaves. We are interested in boundary-breaking multimedia uses of sound, objects, imagery, and/or experiences. This is a call to audio producers, as well as to artists of all stripes: performance, installation, sound, and more!

Above all, this category awards creativity and innovation anchored in audio but that tells a story or delivers a narrative across mediums and platforms, broadly defined. You can also think of this category as being: “beyond the podcast feed.” Entries to this category may be unbound from the words we usually use to describe audio and may include, but are not limited to: audio installations, audio-based theater, audio tours, and non-definable projects that forefront audio in new and interesting ways. Please see the FAQ for further details.

The 2022 Call for Entries will open in Fall 2022.

2021 Eligibility Information

  • Length: 0-5 hours
  • Publication: Must have been published between February 1, 2017 and May 18th, 2021.
  • Format: One single audio file. All advertisements or sponsorship segments must be removed from the audio file — this includes previews for upcoming episodes of this or other programs; with (optional) additional files (images, video, websites, and text); and an Audio Unbound Artist's Statement.
  • Language: There are no language requirements for this category. If you are entering work in a non-English language, you must provide a translated transcript.

2021 Entry Checklist

  • Audio file (mp3 preferred, WAV also accepted) with all ads removed. You may choose to upload additional files for this category (images, video, websites, text)
  • Total length of the entry (Minutes:Seconds)
  • Link to a published version of the story
  • Full credits (host, producer, sound designer, editor, etc.)
  • Description/summary of your entry
  • Transcript (optional for English-language entries, required for non-English)
  • Artist’s Statement (for this category only): see below.

2021 Audio Unbound Artist's Statement (3000 characters max)

When entering work into the Audio Unbound category, you must also include an Artist's Statement: a roughly 2-3 paragraph explanation of the work, the audience, and your process.

This is an opportunity to give Third Coast and our judges an important insight into your work. We want to know how this work has been presented and how it is designed to be experienced, as well as how you see your work as actively unbinding audio from its traditional containers (the broadcast airwaves & the podcast feed).

  • When writing this statement, consider the following:
  • What was your intention in creating this work?
  • What else should judges understand about your work, beyond the materials you’ve provided so far?
  • How does this entry make use of other mediums beyond audio?
  • What about this entry is “unbound”?
  • How should this piece be experienced in its ideal form?
  • How do you recommend judges experience this work?

Note: This statement will be used in the judging process to better understand and help evaluate this entry.

See the FAQ below for more details.

2021 Audio Unbound FAQ

How do I know if my entry is eligible for the Audio Unbound category?

Our answer is three-fold. First: Since Audio Unbound is a relatively new category for us, too, we're excited to see, and learn from, how you interpret it. (That's why we ask for a statement in the Audio Unbound category—if you can make a good case on the "unbound" nature of your work, that will go along way in convincing the judges, too!) Second: Third Coast designed this category specifically for work that explores the boundaries and intersections of audio as a medium, so we'd encourage you to articulate how your piece is pushing or blurring the lines between audio documentary and other kinds of creative work, especially in terms of form. Third: Once again, if you enter Audio Unbound, but the TC staff thinks your piece is more competitive in another category, they will simply move your piece into that category.
If your entry is audio-only and doesn’t have additional (non-audio) materials, this is a sign that your entry might not be a good fit for audio unbound. If you think your audio-only entry still fits the category, please tell us why in the Artists Statement.

Can I enter my Audio Unbound piece into other categories too?

The short answer is: yes, if it additionally meets the eligibility requirements of those categories. However, please note that any special materials provided in association with the ‘Audio Unbound’ category (including your Artist’s Statement and any additional non-audio files submitted) will not be considered by judges of other categories. It’s rare that an Audio Unbound piece would be eligible for, and competitive in, other categories.

How is the Audio Unbound category judged?

This prize is awarded to a piece of narrative work that uses audio as a primary element, but is best presented outside of typical audio distribution methods like radio and podcast, or complicates the notion of the radio or podcast feed in some way. We are seeking entries that incorporate experimental elements including, but not limited to: mixed media (images, videos, website, text); experiences (walking tours, participatory storytelling, etc.), performances (theater, dance, etc) and more!

What should I write for my Audio Unbound Artist's Statement?

This is essentially an artist's statement to accompany your submission. It should explain how, in what format and where the work was originally presented, and some explanation of the audience for the work. Talk about your intention in creating this work, and explain your process in brief. In general, provide any further context needed for listeners to understand the entry (especially if it is particularly experience or place-based work that is harder to translate into a digital space): How should this piece be experienced in its original form? How do you recommend judges experience this piece? Please also explain how you see the work fitting into the Audio Unbound category.

What is the prize for winning an Audio Unbound award?

See the complete list of Prizes + Why Enter? including other reasons why you might consider entering our Competition.