Voicy wants to trick gamers with audio memes – TechCrunch

If meme stocks can be one thing, what’s to stop sharing audio memes from going viral!? Hoping to break into the social audio arena and win friends amidst the crowd of gamers/creators is Voicy – a Netherlands-based startup that is building a platform for user-generated audio snippets (typically a few seconds in length), offering tools to create emotional samples for sharing reactions to spice up your messages/streams.

It’s not hard to predict where this idea will go: Straight to spout sfx farts and troll pwning clips – which are really plentiful on this fledgling platform for user-generated (or, well, sampled) audio. Dank audio memes anyone?

Other viral noises are available. Borat clips, for example, or squid game sounds. Plus a cacophony of over-enthusiastic Internet memes in audio format. John Oliver yelling “GOOGLE IT!” repeatedly, or the Epic Sax Guy’s epic sax, and so on.

The typical Voicy user is, unsurprisingly, young and trigger-happy, according to the startup — which envisions player voice chat as a key target for a pipeline of social integrations it hopes to build. So far, it has an integration with the messaging app Viber – but it’s offering a “simple universal API” to encourage other platforms to sign up.

Zooming out, Voicy’s stated mission is to do for sound clips what Giphy did for GIFs.

“We want to create a new way for people to express themselves creatively in the way they communicate. In areas like gaming, where communicating with images or text doesn’t work so well – there’s a huge gap for audio to really enhance the experience,” suggest co-founders Xander Kanon, Joey de Kruis and Milan Kokir via email.

“As we’ve seen with memes and GIFs, people love creating their own very creative content. Audio has the ability to have the same, if not greater, impact on modern communications. We’ve seen everything from instant chat to emoticons and GIFs that people all over the world want to try and just have fun with the way they communicate – it’s one of the things we all have in common. Furthermore, the competition between apps and platforms is immense and they are all working hard to make their offer more catchy, fun and engaging. This is where Voicey comes into the picture.”

“From the beginning, we developed our platform to give users the express ability to create,” they add. “Our technology directly serves this purpose through an open source approach to content, with layered to moderate protections. With integrations, our approach has been to connect our platform to other platforms and give users greater accessibility to share content. With the addition of the public API, more integrations, and a solid foundation within the platform, we believe our impact can be exponential.”

The platform fully launched in October 2020, according to the founders, and they’ve increased usage to 1.1 million monthly active users at this stage (although that includes usage via Viber, not just the ears they’re pulling for). your own platform).

Other usage metrics they share include that users have created around 145,000 sound clips so far, with an average of an additional 10k being added per month. They also say that a Voicy user plays an average of 20 sound clips and shares one per visit.

While, after its recent partnership with Viber, users have sent over 20 million audio messages – which have been played 100 million times in just three months.

The startup is planning to build a pipeline of third-party integrations to further drive growth, with the help of a €1.2 million pre-seed raise announced today — eyeing potential loves on social messaging, streaming and gaming platforms. Or basically anywhere loud memes can find an appreciative audience.

“There are many potential integrations in social messaging, for example WhatsApp, FB Messenger; social video — Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube; games — Roblox, Ubisoft, Xbox, Discord; and streaming – Twitch, Streamlabs and Corsair,” they suggest, highlighting the list of top-tier consumer platforms.

Voicy’s pre-seed raise is led by Oliver Samwer’s Global Founders Capital, with a number of senior technology executives also participating from companies including Twitch, Spotify, Deezer, Snapchat, Booking, Uber, Reddit, Acast and Tesla.

Commenting in a statement, Soheil Mirpour of Global Founders Capital said: “Voicy is a very exciting new startup. In a short time, its strong team has created a huge community of very active users who are creating hundreds of new audio content every day. There is a huge amount of potential for short audio in the media. A Discord user spends an average of 285 minutes a day on a Discord voice chat, people share 7 billion voice messages a day on WhatsApp alone, and billions of people use short audio in their TikTok or Instagram videos. Voicy brings a new concept to the table that is set to revolutionize a huge market – we knew we had to invest.”

But why do web users need audio memes when there are already, er, audio GIFs? Isn’t this a niche proposition – given the existing overlap, plus general (broad) competition from other ‘shareable’ reactions that consumers can easily use to express themselves, from old emojis to customizable stickers and viral GIFs?

Muted reaction formats (like GIFs) are also essentially a boon for the sizable ‘never turn the volume up’ mobile team – whose love of silence (hate of voicemails) exists explains why even short video clips meant to be shared on social networks typically come with subtitles to provide an alternative to engage any ear. (And, well, an audio meme with the sound off is just a few sad-looking pixels, right? … Quite possibly, though, this is an older versus younger generation of internet users 😬)

Surprising no one, Voicy users so far are either Generation Z or Generation Alpha, with a strong following among the TikTok/Roblox generation, according to the founders. (“Our users use us for gaming, creation and messaging. In our user base, the majority of users are located in the US (60%). The majority of users are under 35 (75%+)”), they also confirm.)

“The advantage of a sound clip over a sound GIF/GIF is its greater applicability”, argue the founders of Voicy. “Practically, you can use a sound clip in your stream, during gameplay, or to edit your video or your TikTok/Youtube Short video, as well as use it in messages. You just can’t do that with an audio GIF due to user experience and practical restrictions.”

“Audio memes are funny, iconic and unique shareable audio snippets that can be used in any form of online communication to express thoughts or feelings in a specific context,” add the trio – who declare themselves to be avid gamers.

What about the risks around copyright? How are they managing this problem? Voicy is not currently licensing any audio content, but the founders suggest they may in the future. For now, they’re relying on fair use to recirculate samples (in addition to their platform supporting a DCMA reporting and removal procedure). They say they are also using a third-party service to prevent protected samples from being funneled to any third-party platforms they integrate with.

While it’s early days for such a consumer-focused product to focus on monetization, the team says it’s building Voicy as a marketplace — and ultimately intends to focus on the needs of the creator community.

“We believe our long-term opportunity lies in enabling creators to monetize their content,” they tell TechCrunch. “With the creator economy continuing to grow at high speed, we provide them with a platform to create, crop, distribute, earn and build a community around their sonic identity. With a large integration network and a platform as the ultimate destination to consume and interact with sounds and sound creators, Voicy can monetize your library and integrations. Voicy can provide a lot of value on both the supply and demand sides.”

“More specifically, our business model will be focused on sublicensing clips and providing additional premium features for creators to do what they do best: create content. The content will have the possibility to be sublicensed to integration partners, fans, other creators and premium consumers”, they add.

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