There is a lot of buzz around ‘voice’ lately - so much so that it is the tech world’s new darling. But while modern-day, internet-enabled businesses stand to be transformed by voice-as-a-service, traditional industries like film, television, radio, and advertising, continue to thrive on voice of a different kind.
These domains employ voice artistes of varied skill sets to service a wide range of requirements. The needs can often be pressing because a bad voiceover can kill even a good product. So, finding the right talent is never easy. Add to that, the countless middlemen in the process, from talent agencies to production studios, the delayed project deliveries, broken payments infrastructure, and finally, dissatisfied artistes - the voiceover industry is nothing but a hot mess.
But, what if it could be reformed with technology? What if clients from across industries could go shopping for voices on an Amazon-like marketplace, apply extensive filters to tailor their search, compare prices, choose a best fit, pay seamlessly (or even wait until final delivery), and eventually, come out satisfied?
Noida-based Voyzapp has created just that: a marketplace for professional voice artistes in multiple languages.
It matches the right talent with the right customer without intermediaries. Artistes have to simply register themselves, and upload their voice samples, while clients — spanning across industries like TV, radio, filmmaking, advertising, corporate IVR, e-learning, animation, audiobooks, and marketing — get to select from thousands of samples.
Streamlining the voiceover industry
Essentially, Voyzapp is trying to organise and democratise the voiceover industry with the marketplace model of ecommerce. The startup was launched earlier this year, and claims to have registered more than 10,000 voice artistes across 30 languages already. It houses 800-900 voice samples, and is adding more each day. Over 150 projects have been completed on the platform so far.
The startup is the brainchild of Sourav Jandial, an electronics engineer from BITS Pilani, who also founded LanguageNoBar - a startup providing translations, localisation, and transcription services in 100+ languages - almost seven years ago. While LanguageNoBar is still fully functional, Sourav has set out to explore greater opportunities in "India’s ever-growing audiovisual industry".
The founder tells YourStory,
“Everything is going audiovisual now. It is a thing of the millennials. But, finding the right talent that matches the client’s specific need is still very difficult. Plus, voice is a complex thing, and the industry is always looking for something better. In the current scenario, the client’s search is limited to just two to three samples.”
Hence, Voyzapp: a place for innumerable voice samples.
On every transaction between the client and the artiste, the platform earns a six percent commission. Registration for creators is free.
Eliminating middlemen, improving access to talent
Voyzapp plans to fix three basic pain points in the voiceover industry: a) limited access to good quality artistes, b) high project costs because of the sheer number of middlemen involved, and c) delayed and/or unfinished projects.
“Every artiste may not be suited for every project. If a talent agency offers all its clients the same voices, they will never be satisfied. Sometimes, even the artistes have to wait long for projects or payments. All these issues can be solved with technology.”
After artistes upload their voice samples on the backend, a team at Voyzapp reviews and approves them, and makes it available for clients in a span of three days. On the artistes’ side, the platform provides intuitive dashboards that allow them to track project status, transactions, review ratings, etc. on their phones and laptops.
Voyzapp’s technology ensures that both clients and artistes are alerted through messages and emails at all “trigger points” including the allocation of projects by clients, the submission of recordings by artistes, and the completion of payments.
The platform also enables a feedback mechanism. Artistes can request reviews from clients, who in turn, can ask for moderations in the final deliverables. Voyzapp deploys customer service and vendor management teams to ensure that all transactions are smooth and seamless.
It has also enabled an ‘Escrow’ payment mechanism, in which the payment is held securely in escrow accounts and released to the artistes only after recordings are satisfactorily delivered. “This ensures that there are no trust issues, and the payment process is hassle-free,” Sourav says.
Opportunities, challenges, and growth path
The global voiceover market was estimated to be worth $4.4 billion in 2017, according to Statista. So fragmented and unaccounted for is the industry, that this remains the last publicly available data still.
A lion’s share - nearly 58 percent - of the demand comes from the entertainment sector. Advertising (19 percent) and corporates (18 percent) follow. Education is next. Sourav reckons the pattern is similar in India too, with e-learning probably taking the share of education up by a little. He says,
“We see a huge growth potential in entertainment and e-learning. The demand for voices in different languages and dialects is also growing now.”
In India, services like VoiceHired and VoiceArtistes compete with Voyzapp. Internationally, there are VoiceBunny, VoiceArchive, Voices.com, and more. Global competition matters because Voyzapp has future plans of international expansion, particularly in European countries.
But, all this comes at a cost.
Currently bootstrapped, Voyzapp is still fine-tuning its business model. Besides the commission it earns per transaction, the startup has plans to launch premium (paid) features for voice creators ala SoundCloud. “We’re also looking to raise a couple of million dollars in Q4 of 2019,” the founder reveals.
He adds, “Our final vision is to become a global provider of high-quality voiceover services in a wide range of languages, and provide clients with an excellent, highly responsive customer experience.”