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INDUSTRY
VoiceBunny Hops Into Beta Testing;
What Is It? What's It Mean For You?

February 10, 2012

By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor & TV News Anchor

"CrowdVoicing” is the newly-coined term that Voice123 founder Alex Torrenegra is using to describe the new VoiceBunny service, now in beta release.

No doubt, 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 talents see such sites as market disruptors. I’m not passing judgment. 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.

FASCINATED BY CHANGE

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 judgment - pro or con - while I watch Alex Torrenegra’s latest innovation break on the scene.

LEARN FROM THIS Q&A

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.

First is a short YouTube video to accompany this coming-out of VoiceBunny, and then a news release that is directed mostly at software developers.

You’ll find all that below ...



NEWS RELEASE
February 8, 2012


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.

Q&A:
Dave Courvoisier Interviews Alex Torrenegra


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 voice overs 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 full time, 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 voice overs 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. 

For voice talents, the 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 5,000 words. Are those figures locked-in, or can a member change their parameters?

Talents can change these parameters any time in their "Dashboard.”

The VB site claims that both voice talents 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 home page 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.

ABOUT DAVE ...

Dave Courvoisier ("pronounced just like the fine cognac, only no relation”) is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He's become the voice over industry's social media tech guru, and writes Voice Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of adventures and observations in a style that’s true to his friendly Midwestern farm roots.

Email: CourVO@CourVO.com
Web: www.courvo.com
Blog: www.courvo.biz
TV bio: KLAS-TV bio link

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Comments (11)
Dave Menashe
2/15/2012 at 11:37 AM
There is no transparency in this at all. What's to prevent the VB folks from awarding the job to the lowest bid and keeping more of the client's payment for themselves?

Example - they send out a script and get back 10 viable reads. Eight actors work at a rate of 10 cents a word, one at 8 cents a word and one at 4 cents a word. If all 10 reads arrive withing 20 minutes of each other, why on earth would VB forward the mp3 of the 10 cents a word person? They wouldn't - they'd give the client the 4 cents actor's read and keep an extra 6 cents a word for VB. Or am I missing something?
Debbe Hirata
2/14/2012 at 4:04 PM
Insightful interview, Dave. Thank you!

It will be interesting to see how VoiceBunny impacts the industry as it unfolds.

Debbe Hirata
www.debbehirata.com
Barbara Logan
2/14/2012 at 9:55 AM
This sounds very exciting - thanks for the Q&A. You say, "eventually...(allowing them to get several reads back and choosing a favorite) "... how does this work with "There’s no auditioning; you do the work, you get paid"? Thanks in advance for your reply!
Rosie Goodman
2/11/2012 at 11:32 PM
Very clear & helpful in understanding this new topic in the VO industry.
anonymous
2/11/2012 at 7:48 PM
As Joel Richards said, "adapt or die." The demand for VO recordings almost dictates some sort of "supermarket approach" to hitching clients and talents; maybe this is a start.

However, as commonly happens with new technology "solve one problem; create another." Solving the client's problem of getting things done quickly might push VO talent into the "World's Oldest Profession" at the lowest, common level. However it could be great training for the "champagne/gowns/suites" level. And, in the middle of the effort is the "entrepreneur" with his own ax to grind, i.e. get rich and become "King of the VO Industry."

Happy to see progress(?) and demand for the industry...but I'll watch from the sidelines and see who needs condoms and who needs contraception. =)
David Menashe
2/11/2012 at 6:45 PM
Alex says that 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 full time, recording dozens or hundreds of projects on a daily basis.

Why would anyone anyone want to do hundreds of recordings a day? How about dozens a day? I'll be happy doing a handful of well-paid gigs a month and a few moderately paying gigs. I'll spend the rest of my time trying to find clients who pay me a fair amount, not a pittance.

It appears to me that VB is going to make elance, fiverr, odesk and guru seem like high class joints! In the race to the bottom, we may soon have a new leader.
Joel Richards
2/11/2012 at 9:15 AM
I'm skeptical. Out of curiosity I signed up, plugged in my normal rates . . . and got nothing. I'll give it some time--perhaps do some "testing" with rates--but I see this not so much as rate erosion (which will happen) but status erosion. The idea is intriguing but I'm sitting skeptically in the sidelines for now. Think about what kind of clients a service like this is going to get?

Or perhaps this will be become how new talent get started. Do your time on voicebunny, work your way up elance, sign up for 123, and then after a few years you'll have a client roster and you can cancel all those services and actually be a working pro.

Like it or not the motto of the game is "adapt or die."
Voicelady
2/11/2012 at 1:08 AM
So, my question is, what about all those paid subscriptions to Voice123? If seekers are being moved towards a faster service (lower paying jobs as well?) doesn't that decrease the already restricted jobs available through the original service? And is the job sent to many people at the same time? So, how can they say you do the work and you get paid. It does seem like you do the work, and you are first and get the job or you do the work and the service person picks and you get the job. Many questions.
Dave Courvoisier
2/10/2012 at 7:03 PM
Deb,

Today, I was sent a screen capture of a "chatt" a fellow voice actor had with the VB online tech support person.

It's quite revealing in direct answer to your questions.

Yes. First-come-first-served --- AND -- someone is riding herd on the submissions and has the power to say "NOT GOOD ENOUGH", and open up the process to the NEXT first-in-line.

Watch my blog for a look at that screen capture. it says loads.

Dave Courvoisier
Debbie Grattan
2/10/2012 at 1:11 PM
Great interview, Dave! One thing I don't quite understand is, if several talent match the specs and all of them record the same project, how do they all get paid? Seems like only one would get paid (although wouldn't it be nice if...). Or is it a "first respond" situation where only one talent gets the offer and if they decline it goes to the next best match? Maybe I just missed something in reading your article. Please enlighten me if you can!

Debbie Grattan
www.debbiegrattan.com
Dave Wallace
2/10/2012 at 12:24 PM
I have managed to secure good, ongoing work with Voice123 (including my first four-figure job), so while I believe that Mr. Torrenegra could eventually turn Voice Bunny into something to be proud of, at this point I have two major misgivings about it:

1) Using the word count as the only parameter for choosing a rate. Where a completed VO project will be played, and how much exposure it will get, is a huge factor in determining a rate. So I post a rate for 50 words, and those 50 words will be heard...where? A local radio spot in a small town? Or a national cable commercial? That makes a huge difference for me--and many other voice actors--in determining a rate.

2) Not being able to contact the client directly. I don't see how that's particularly helpful for voice talent, in the interest of blunt honesty. The most successful VO businesses are ones that have voice actors cultivating healthy, long-lasting business relationships with clients. There's really no way to do that through Voice Bunny if we can't communicate with the client.

I understand that Voice Bunny is still in Beta, but I seriously hope those two issues are considered.
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