“CrowdVoicing”

by | Feb 10, 2012 | Subscription Services, Technology | 9 comments

“CrowdVoicing” is the newly-coined term that Alex Torrenegra is using to describe “VoiceBunny” service, now in Beta release.

Yesterday’s blog about the official launch of VoiceBunny brought some reaction that beats a warning drum (see the comments section) .

No doubt Alex Torrenegra brings some history with him from customer experiences at Voice123.com.  Concerns about V123 are familiar to those who follow the effects of so-called “Pay to Play” online sites.  Many voice talent see such sites as market disruptors.  I’m not passing judgement.  I’m officially undeclared on the subject of VoiceBunny, V123, or Voices.com for that matter, although I may or may not be a subscriber to any of those services.

My decades-long training as a broadcast journalist defaults me to a neutral position, but I’m a closet sociologist and am fascinated with the changes new technologies and ideas bring to the marketplace.

On the other hand, as a working voice actor myself, I’m disappointed whenever those changes cut into my bottom line.  Either way, I’m reserving judgement — pro or con — while I watch Alex Torrenegra’s latest innovation break on the scene.

To that end, I beseech you to read the answers to the questions I posed to Torrenegra as an impartial observer.  Within 10 hours of my submitting them, Torrenegra had responded to flesh out more of the VoiceBunny picture.  I’ll credit him for his helpful, well-composed answers.

That Q & A is posted below in its entirety, with no editing, deletions, or additions.

There is also a short YouTube video to accompany this coming-out of VoiceBunny, and a news release that is directed mostly at software developers.  You’ll find all that below.

(ed. note 2-15-12  for more info, read an excellent blog article about this on Kyle McCarley’s Blog “VoiceBottom-Feeding”)

  News Release 2-8-12

The founders of Voice123 have developed a “sister” voiceover website, VoiceBunny, currently in beta testing. We are excited about the official launch and wanted to give your readers a heads-up!

Voiceover artists will get something they may have wanted for a while…no auditioning. You do the work, so you get paid.  How? Buyers (aka. clients) will pre-pay for the voiceover work so talents never have to worry about getting paid.

Is this for real? Yes. VoiceBunny is using a revolutionary API technology to attract buyers from all over the world and across many different industries requiring voices. VoiceBunny makes it easy to crowdsource voiceovers in minutes from a pool of 100,000 professionals. It’s “crowdvoicing”! Over 50+ languages are supported. Connecting to the VoiceBunny API turns blogs and news articles into podcasts automatically and in just minutes after it’s posted. There are many ways VoiceBunny can be used:

-Video editing apps will offer great voices to their clients
-Ads for online radio can be created while the client is buying the campaign
-Indie videogame developers can get affordable professional voices easily
-Apps can deliver custom content at low cost
-VoiceBunny’s potential is limitless.

VoiceBunny is a creation of husband and wife team,Alexander Torrenegra (experienced web solution provider), and Tania Zapata (aspiring voiceover artist). In the search for new opportunities, and tired of the traditional “wait for a call” agent relationship, Tania and Alex first created Voice123 in Queens, NY, back in 2003. It was the first successful online voice casting service. Without venture capital, it grew to over 100,000 talents and over 3 million auditions. Buyers and voice talent began working together through an audition process held on the Voice123 website.
Now with VoiceBunny, Alexander and Tania are trying to speed up the process of getting a great voice recording in just minutes by getting rid of the auditioning process through an API. VoiceBunny opens the door to a new land of voiceover opportunity that may be unfamiliar to some, yet is a valuable source of revenue for anyone working online.

Question & Answer with Dave Courvoisier

 What perceived market need was not being answered by your very successful Voice123.com site, that led you to launch VoiceBunny?

VoiceBunny was created to address the need for the extremely fast turnaround buyers in the digital age are demanding.  The demand for the amount of voiceovers has also increased tremendously with the invention of mobile apps, e-learning, etc.  This means we have buyers who need a lot of voiceovers and need them very quickly.  These buyers do not have time to post each project individually, wait for auditions to arrive, listen to them all, contact and hire the talent, have the talent invoice them, and pay them.  VoiceBunny handles all that for the buyer and with our API, they can get this done amazingly fast.  This also means talents can be more efficient than ever!  There’s no auditioning; you do the work, you get paid within 72 hours and talents can do as many jobs per day as they want.

What is your target audience among voice talent that will best be served by VoiceBunny?

VoiceBunny is not meant to be used by the talent that wants to do a few recordings per day. It is meant to be used by the talent that wants to do it fulltime, recording dozens or hundreds of projects on a daily basis

What is your target audience among voice-seekers that will best be served by VoiceBunny?

We are targeting companies that need a lot of voiceovers quickly, i.e. blogcasting, translation services, language education apps, IVR, etc.  These types of projects usually set a “price per word” budget.

Please explain in layman’s terms as best you can how the “API” works, and why this technology is so important to the design of VoiceBunny.

The API is the most innovative and exciting part about VoiceBunny.  It allows tech-savvy people and companies to use our technology in conjunction with their existing technology.  It is a way for different technologies to “talk” to each other.  An example of how a person or company could use our API:
A language learning company in China needs hundreds of scripts voiced in English for their learning materials.  They can use VoiceBunny’s API to automatically post projects for them every time they copy and paste a script into the code.  The API basically serves as a template for them so they don’t have to manually fill out our web form every time they need a new script voiced.  The possibilities are endless though and we are really looking forward to seeing how different companies will use our API.

You’re making the VoiceBunny API available to developers now.  How much participation do you expect, and is this an affiliate relationship?  Can anyone use the API?

We expect the majority of our buyers (voice seekers) to use the API.  For a developer, it is much easier and faster.  Those who wish to use the API need to contact us to get an “API token”.  So, only people we approve can use our API.

Sign-up on the VoiceBunny site is fairly quick and easy, including a page that asks you to estimate the pay you’d like to get for 5 words, 50 words, 500 words, and 5000 words.  Are those figures locked-in, or can a member change their parameters?

Talents can change these parameters anytime in their “Dashboard”.

The VB site claims both voice talent and voice seekers can name their own price.  How does this model work?

Only talents that match ALL of the parameters of a buyer’s request will be notified of the project.  These parameters include:

1).  The “native” language requested,
2).  The gender requested,
3).  The “age” of voice requested,
4).  The “rate” at which a talent is willing to accept the project.

 Only those “rates” that fall within a specific range above and below the offered “reward” amount will be matched.  If you set your rates too high, you will probably see very few projects come your way.  On the other hand, if you set your rates too low (like trying to set them all to $0) you will also not see any projects. I firmly believe that over time, the rewards offered will satisfy the rates stated by the talents and vice versa.  When this happens, the “market” will be in a very nice state of equilibrium.

Could you walk us through a typical scenario a voice talent might experience once he/she is registered on your site, and ready to receive work?  What will they see on their dashboard when a client is contacting them?  Will they receive an email notice?  A phone call?  What is their next step?

Buyers (clients) and talents do not have contact with each other directly.  If a talent is logged into their dashboard, it automatically refreshes every 30 seconds to find projects that match their profile. Talents will also get an email notifying them that a new matching project has been posted.  After a talent has read all the details of the project and determined that they match what the buyer is looking for, they click the “Accept Project” button.  They then record, edit, and upload a finished product.  The VoiceBunny entourage screens it to ensure the talent followed directions, matches the type of voice/read requested, and for quality.  It is then sent to the buyer for their final approval.  Once the buyer approves the read, the talent gets paid within 72 hours.

 Explain the concept of crowdsourcing voices, or “crowdvoicing”, and how that benefits the voice talent.

Crowdsourcing (or crowdvoicing) attracts buyers because they have access to thousands of professional VO artists in one place.  This benefits the talents because we attract buyers and help them make money!

Since you tout that VoiceBunny supports 50+ languages, how much global participation are you seeking?

We already have interest from companies in Japan, India, China, Australia and all over the world!  We do intend on being a global marketplace, not just a U.S. marketplace.

The VB site seems to have tight integration (even validation) with various Social Media platforms.  How does this utilization fit into your VoiceBunny design?

VoiceBunny requires talents to register and sign in with Facebook to verify their identity.  This helps prevent users from impersonating other talents. Talents always have the option to remain anonymous when using VoiceBunny. We won’t share talent’s identity with others if they don’t want us to.

News of VoiceBunny emerged – along with a form of the website itself – many months ago.  Can voice talent now be assured this is the real launch of the service?

Talents from the Voice123 database were invited to register so we could have talents ready for the beta release.  So, talents have known about VoiceBunny for a while, buyers are just now being targeted and finding out about it for the first time.  VoiceBunny is still in beta though, so expect updates and new features to be added periodically.

What new developments or features do you eventually plan to offer to VoiceBunny users?

Right now, in the beta release, the only option for buyers is to get one read back, trusting VoiceBunny to find the perfect talent for them.  You can see on the homepage that we will eventually be offering buyers the opportunity to run a collaborative contest (allowing them to get several reads back and choosing a favorite) and the option to use a search to find a talent.

CourVO

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9 Comments

  1. Dave Wallace

    Well Dave, thanks very much for posting the interview (and thanks by extension to Mr. Torrenegra for giving frank answers).

    However, with all due respect to Mr. Torrenegra, his responses have not done much to downplay my disappointment in Voice Bunny. Of the issues I have with it, two are top of mind (and feel free to correct me if I have misunderstood anything)–

    Issue Number 1: Using the word-count as the only parameter for determining a rate. Exposure and the intended market for a VO project are huge factors that, at least at present, Voice Bunny does not consider. 50 words…where? In a super-short video for a company that will only post their advertisement on YouTube, or in a national cable commercial? Big difference.

    Issue Number 2: Mr. Torrenegra said himself, “Buyers (clients) and talents do not have contact with each other directly.” That’s not particularly helpful for VO talent, in my opinion. VO is a business of building relationships with clients to secure steady work by being their “top of mind” choice. Which is more or less impossible to do when we have no contact with one another.

    We’ll see what happens, I guess. Maybe Voice Bunny could be changed and updated to address these issues.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Dave,

      I hear ya, and those are both hugely valid points. I rec’d from a fellow voice-actor today a screen capture of an online chat he had with a VB tech-support guy. It’s quite revealing in its view of the PROCESS of approval.
      Watch for it in the next few hours on my blog.

      Dave C

      Reply
  2. Pablo Hernandez

    Hi Dave,

    I want to thank you for posting this Q & A. But I think Mr. Torrenegra, although an innovative person, is not taking the time needed to build a body with head and toes. Take for example the following words of him: “We are targeting companies that need a lot of voiceovers quickly, i.e. blogcasting, TRANSLATION services, language education apps, IVR, etc.” I re-wrote the word TRANSLATION in caps because if there something that SHOULD NEVER be crowdsourced is translation. Besides doing VO in Spanish, I’m also a translator and I can say (in my opinion) that it is anything but wise, to let a client expect a translation job to be ready in minutes, unless it is a 50 word text and especially if the job comes from a VO company that seems to be just a new copy/version of V123. I’m not on a personal fight against Mr. Torrenegra and this company, but his approach to the VO market is COMPLETELY DETRIMENTAL to our business. As a VO artist/translator, I don’t care if he drives change “good or bad” as you said, because in this business we need GOOD changes and leave out of our careers the bad changes, especially Torrenegra’s changes that seem to be here to stay. I can’t, in any way, trust a company that allow the so disrespectful low-balling culture they have contributed with. As an example: they tell clients they can expect a movie trailer on National TV in the US to cost them $500 or less. I just can’t understand their business model, it’s so detrimental to the VO industry. And I don’t think VoiceBunny will be any different.

    Reply
    • Kyle McCarley

      I was part of the VoiceBunny beta test over the last few months. I signed up right after I got the email, thinking there’s no harm in trying it, since it costs nothing to sign up. Throughout that entire period, I received two emails regarding projects, both of which were far below my minimum rate. I was surprised that they’d decided to go public so soon, as I assumed the fact that I hadn’t been seeing any projects from them meant they weren’t getting a lot of traffic with which to test the system. So, as an experiment, I temporarily changed my profile to say I was eligible for any age or gender, and all my rates to 1, 2, 3, and 4 dollars, and reviewed the “Previous projects that matched your rates and profile” section. There were a total of 77 projects posted between 35 days and 8 hours ago, ranging from 3 to 1689 words in length, and from $5 to a whopping $130. Of all 77 projects, 3 of them were willing to pay $100 or more. The average rate offered on all of these projects was $36.30. Now, Mr. Torrenegra said the service will grow and eventually the market will balance out with rates that satisfy both clients and VOs. I certainly hope so, because the rates I’m seeing so far are the absolute epitome of bottom-feeding.

      Reply
      • CourVO

        Kyle,

        I really appreciate both your posts in response and comment to this article. That’s the kind of analysis I was unable to do, but you could, as an early experiment, crunching the numbers.

        Thanks for summarizing your experience and making those calculations. They’re quite revealing, and confirm most people’s suspicions, I think.

        I appreciate your contribution to this thread!

        Dave Courvoisier

        Reply
  3. Dawn Harvey

    Am I correct in understanding that the FIRST talent to accept the job, books it?

    “After a talent has read all the details of the project and determined that they match what the buyer is looking for, they click the “Accept Project” button. They then record, edit, and upload a finished product. ”

    So, when they push the “accept” button, no one else can voice the project and the client gets “quick draw McGraw”, no matter what, so long as they meet the “criteria”? So, the client gets “a voice” but not necessarily the best voice for the job? Am I missing something here?

    Reply
  4. Ian Fults

    I have been working the Voice Bunny Site now for 3 months, and have gotten quite a few of the porjects that were posted. But sadly they average no more than 2 projects a day. The good thing is it has given me the experience to be more effcient with my work, but the problem is I am not seeing anywhere near the amount of “dozens” of projects that would allow for a Talent to work a this full time.

    I am also noticing that some talents are using third party software to automatically access the projects that are posted, due to the first come first serve basis, and I have asked Voice Bunny if this is allowed or not.

    No repsonce yet.

    Until 20 projects show up in a day, there is no way I can deem this good or bad, I have had some success, but also a lot of frustration, when I am ready to work, and the project is auto clicked.

    I hope they can address this issue, and look forward to the day when the flood gates open up.

    Reply
    • CourVO

      Ian,

      This is great real-world feedback, and I”m glad you took the time to write with this follow-up.

      You say you can’t deem it “good or bad”, but it sounds more on the negative side, than the positive.

      Let us know if you find out anything else, OK?

      Thanks again for visiting and commenting.

      Dave C

      Reply

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