The Web is many things, including the murderer of the middle man. With an Internet connection, the right application, and an idea, you can accomplish nearly anything in fewer steps than without the assistance of the Worldwide Web. VoiceBunny, launching out of beta today, is a new platform that wants to cut some hoop jumping out of the voiceover industry.
Founder Alex Torrenegra tells me that he and his wife Tania, a voiceover actress, realized the inefficiencies of the current system. “The process of hiring a talent online was slow and cumbersome. We realized we could make it faster and easier by skipping the auditioning process and allowing an algorithm to select the best talent for each project,” he says. “So together we created VoiceBunny and the VoiceBunny API to help people with great voices connect with people that need them.”
If you don’t know much about the voiceover market, you’re forgiven. But it’s a surprisingly convoluted one: between the bureaucracies of talent agencies, time-consuming auditions, studio rentals, and producer fees, voiceover talents can easily find themselves spending the majority of their time and money just trying to land jobs.
Torrenegra says that as installing personal recording studios and buying the requisite equipment has gotten cheaper, the work-from-home model has begun to make more sense – which is where VoiceBunny comes in. Voice talents can create profiles and manage auditions and jobs from the platform, cutting out agent commission prices and anyone trying to scam you with tales of voiceover stardom. It’s hard to beat VoiceBunny’s price: it’s free for artists. For clients who are buying the audio, short, one-time projects are 50 cents a word and large, recurring projects are as little as three cents a word.
VoiceBunny also gives production teams seeking this product access to a huge collection of voices instantly. Of course, that means the startup had to build a diverse catalogue. “In the very beginning, we used Amazon Mechanical Turk to gather email addresses for us and we simply sent out an email asking [artists] to join. We crowdsourced the formation of our crowdsourcing marketplace!” says Torrenegra. “We have over 100,000 talents registered and about 6,000 that are regularly active.” Submissions are screened for quality, and those that don’t make the cut are given feedback on why. “While anyone may sign up, not everyone makes it through our quality assurance checks,” he says.
In addition to the VoiceBunny platform, the application’s API has been getting a lot of early attention. More than 50 developers registered within the first few hours of its availability, and the company often gets inquiries from interested parties about how they’d like to implement the technology.
VC Fred Wilson’s AVC blog was actually one of the first beta testers… sort of. “We knew that Fred published under a Creative Commons license, so we did not need to worry about legal issues there. So, we just did it,” says Torrenegra. “We had no idea how he would react!” VoiceBunny created AVC.fm within two weeks, and before they could even reach out to Wilson, they saw he’d tweeted a link to the site. AVC.fm is still up and running, and this “autopodcasting” feature will soon be available to publishers who want to add an audio element to their site.
VoiceBunny has plenty lined up post-launch. Torrenegra says the team wants to run contests similar to 99designs, where clients can choose from between five to 10 completed voiceovers. And in addition to its algorithm matching, those looking to hire voice actors will soon be able to search the database and directly choose the voice they want to hire.