There have been a number of successful websites launched that work on an ‘intermediary’ principle. That is, successfully those who desire, with those who are offering. Voices.com has taken that model and made it work—very successfully—for the voiceover industry. The site matches business owners with professional voice talents.

Founders David Ciccarelli and wife Stephanie stumbled upon their ‘ah-ha’ moment while working as a voice talent team in London, Ont. David, a professional sound engineer, and Stephanie, a classical vocalist, worked together to record her demo. They began to get inquires about voiceover work in the local market, and it blossomed—along with their romance—into a moderately successful local business venture.
“If we’re doing this moderately successfully in London, Ont., then surely there is a global market that is filled with freelancers doing this kind of work and people looking to hire,” says Ciccarelli, of his thought process. “I said to myself, ‘What if we can build a website that brought all these players together all under one roof?’” It was then that the business was born.

Voices.com began under the name Interactive Voices in 2003 and was incorporated and rebranded into Voices.com in 2005. Since then, it has had a highly successful enterprise and connected thousands of people in over 100 languages.

How it works

The concept of Voices.com is essentially to function as an online database. The unique web-based application cuts out many of the costs associated with traditional voiceover work. The first part, of course, the voice talent. Profiles are free to create, but voice talent pay a subscription fee. “This is known in the industry as a ‘freemium’ business model,” Cicarelli explains. “Free basic service, with premium add-ons.”

The other side of the market is those looking for voice talent. Businesses create a profile for themselves online. This can be radio and television stations, advertising agencies, big corporations, or small- to-medium-sized businesses. “Buyers—or clients as well call them—are the flip side. Those people are often small business owners who need a voice recorded or maybe need a narrator for a video on YouTube, or an audiobook recorded,” says Ciccarelli, who also counts Fortune 500 companies amongst his clientele. “It’s actually a $10 billion market worldwide.”

The process of the Voices.com applications is remarkably simply. A business posts an ad outlining the voiceover work needed. Members then respond to the ad providing a quote and a voice reel. Buyers can review the quotes and make an offer to the desired party. The talent then records the script provided by the buyer and posts it online, and the buyer electronically accepts the recording. The talent is paid online through a SurePay™ escrow service.

The system clearly works, as it has been highly regarded across the industry. Every month, there is an average of 69,662 mp3 voiceover demos, listened to by 1,159,901 unique visitors, creating 6,911 job opportunities.

Online community

The other important component of Voices.com is its online community—part of the reason its subscription model has been successful. There are daily newsletters, blogs, tutorials, videos, and podcasts offering expert advice and industry news to voice talent. For example, Voice Over Experts is a weekly podcast offering “pearls of wisdom and tricks of the trade.” These small but crucial elements are important parts of this truly digital business.

“We hear from people who say they would never have access to that calibre of expertise without our site.”