Best New Artist (BNA)

The Best New Artist (BNA) award goes to a single piece made by an outstanding emerging producer (or group of producers) who entered the audio field within two years of the publication of their entry.

This award is intended to support newcomers to the medium developing work in any genre or length. The work submitted must be primarily produced, edited, sound designed, and written by the new artist, or by a group of individually eligible new artists, though editorial guidance and support from veteran artists is allowed.

Excited to enter the Best New Artist category? Get prepared by reviewing the information below.

About this Category

Background

The Best New Artist category is one of the original categories of the Third Coast/RHDF Competition. There is one Award-winner in this category, honored with a cash prize, unique physical award, and recognition around the world, including a public showcase of comments from the judges. We now offer a list of Third Coast Finalists in this category, announced alongside Award-Winners.

This year, we’re thrilled to announce a Pilot Offering for BNA entrants: the ability to opt in to receive dedicated feedback on their work if named a BNA Finalist! To read more about this Pilot Offering, scroll down. Instructions for how to opt-in to potentially receive feedback on your BNA entry will also be made clear on the 2022-23 Entry Form.

Learn more about all of our Competition Offerings, and share your input to help us expand them in the future.

Eligibility Information
  • Length: Standalone pieces between 0-75 minutes, as well as serialized stories containing multiple episodes that, in combination, add up to between 75 minutes-15 hours. Pieces eligible for Audio Unbound may also be considered in this category.
  • Publication: Must have been published between September 1, 2020 and March 10, 2023
  • Experience level: Must have produced first piece of audio work within two years prior to the publication date of the piece being entered
  • Format: One single audio file, or, in the case of a serialized project, multiple audio files. All advertisements or sponsorship segments must be removed from the audio file — this includes previews for upcoming episodes of this or other programs.
  • 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.
  • Production: To qualify for this category, the entrant(s) must have recorded, written, and mixed the entry on their own; Individuals or teams may have worked with an editor or editors, as long as they contributed to the entry in an advisory capacity only. Co-productions between groups of Best New Artists, per the definition above, who are collaborating in recording, mixing, and editing are permitted. Co-productions involving a new producer but made up of more seasoned producers who are also recording, mixing, and editing are not eligible in this category.
Pilot Offering: Feedback Program for Best New Artist Finalists

This year, we’re offering dedicated feedback to all Best New Artist entrants selected as Third Coast Finalists. Since we can only start with a small group of entrants receiving feedback, we decided to focus on standout entrants in the BNA category. We hope this can provide some additional inspiration for emerging makers, and help us better understand how to provide useful feedback to Competition entrants. Our hope is to expand this initiative in the future! Note that anyone entering the category can opt-in for the chance to receive feedback by following instructions on the Entry Form.

Entry Rates

For the cheapest rates, enter before our Early Deadline of January 13. Check out our complete breakdown of sliding scale rates across all categories. (Don’t worry, the entry form will also guide you through to determine your rate!)

Note: as a Pilot Offering this year, we're honoring our Early Deadline rates through the Final Deadline for all non-English Language entries in any category.

Rates are shaped by our Collective Pricing philosophy, which distributes cost according to entrants’ access to resources.

Entry Checklist
  • Audio file (.mp3 preferred, .wav also accepted) with all ads removed
  • 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)
  • New Artist Statement (for this category only): see below.
Best New Artist Statement

When entering the Best New Artist category, you'll need to include a brief, 1-2 paragraph narrative describing your (and/or your team’s) experience(s) thus far working with audio in the two years prior to the publication date of the piece(s) being submitted. How does the work you are submitting fit into your journey as an audio producer and storyteller? Your answer to this section will help Third Coast learn about the maker(s) of this entry, and what brought them to audio. Judges may use the Best New Artist Statement as a way of getting to know you as an emerging artist, including to check eligibility, but the Statement is not reviewed or critiqued artistically alongside the entry.

Note: In order to be eligible for the Best New Artist award, every member of your team must have produced your first audio story within the two years prior to the publication date of the submitted work. We leave it up to you to self-identify as such, with the knowledge that you may have used audio or done production as part of work in other disciplines and mediums prior to that point.


Best New Artist FAQ

How do I enter this category?

If your entry meets the eligibility requirements above, you may select “Best New Artist” on the entry form.

Can I enter other categories too?

Yes. If you are entering the Best New Artist category, your entry is automatically considered for Directors’ Choice. It may also be eligible for Best Documentary: Short, Impact, Best Documentary in a Non-English Language, and others.

Do I count as a New Artist?

We measure whether or not someone qualifies as a “Best New Artist” based on whether they published their first narrative audio story within two years prior to the publication date of the piece being submitted. Answering the Best New Artist statement also helps us understand your journey into audio! We may write to you with a few follow-ups, too.

What should I write for my New Artist Statement?

This is really to help Third Coast get to know you. We love meeting new makers, and want to hear about your audio path so far! Tell us: What got you into audio in the first place? How did you make your first audio story? What have you been making since then? Where did you learn or acquire your audio skills?

Do you have a sample Best New Artist Statement?

Yes, here is a sample statement:

I fell in love with audio storytelling as a young camp counselor in Michigan, where a nightly ritual was to come around the fire and narrate our day’s adventures (the younger kids would add sound effects as a sort of interactive game, which added to the drama!). As I got older, my ears were always glued to podcasts and audiobooks. I’ve been a substitute teacher and gig economy worker, based in St. Louis for 8 years, with a bunch of jobs that keep me moving around the city so I have lots of time to listen.

Just over a year ago, I was talking to a friend who works in radio and she encouraged me to check out the Third Coast Pocket Conference and Transom.org. I taught myself how to record and edit audio, and finally worked up the courage to make something of my own. Since then, I’ve made 5 other short audio pieces just for myself and I definitely hope to keep learning and improving! My hope is to maybe even someday pitch a show about a story that I’ve made (though I’m nervous about it!). I’m especially passionate about young people and education and last month I started working with another friend on a limited series that will be about COVID-19’s impact on Missouri elementary schools.

Does my Best New Artist entry need to be my first-ever piece of audio work?

Not at all! We understand that learning often happens through a process of trial and error and that the first piece you ever produce may not be one you wish to submit to the competition. We only ask that you did produce your first piece of audio work within two years prior to the piece being submitted in order to be eligible for entry in this category, however.

What if I’ve dabbled in audio production for more than two years before the publication of my BNA entry?

That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not eligible! What we’re looking for specifically is whether, at the time of your entry’s publication, you were still within two years of the very first time you’d published a full audio work publicly (on any platform, including self-publishing on a site like SoundCloud). While there’s some flexibility around what is or isn’t considered a full audio work, please note that we’re hoping to honor emergent audio producers in this category: so, for example, if you’ve produced a feature film, including the sound, but have never produced an stand-alone, audio-only work, that extensive audio experience in an adjacent field would likely disqualify you as a Best New Artist. Feel like you’re still not sure if you qualify as a new artist? Email us: competition@thirdcoastfestival.org.


Missing something? Check the General FAQ or read through the Competition Entry Guide.

Past Recipients

2020 Infinities

Concerning mental illness, toxic workplace environments, Egyptian Rat Screw, and the nature of infinity.

2018 God + The Gays

In her first radio piece, Phoebe visits Christians from her past and tries to understand whether queer people and homophobic Christians can have meaningful relationships.

2017 Quiet Revolution

It’s sometimes said you’re never too old to learn something new but is that really sensible advice?