If meme stocks can be a thing, what’s to stop audio meme sharing from going viral!? Hoping to storm the noisy arena of social audio and win friends amid the gamer/creator crowd, Voicy – a Netherlands-based startup building a platform for user-generated audio clips (usually a few seconds long) and tools to create emotional comment-sharing examples to spice up your posts/streams.
It’s not hard to predict where this idea will go: outright fart-sfx and pwning-troll clips – which indeed abound on this fledgling platform for user-generated (or, well, sampled) audio. Thankful audio memes, anyone?
Other viral sounds are available. Borat clips, for example, or Squid Game sounds. Plus a cacophony of over-enthusiastic internet memes in audio form. John Oliver repeatedly yells, “GOOGLE IT!” or Epic Sax Guy’s epic saxophone, and so on.
The typical Voice user is, unsurprisingly, young and trigger-happy, according to the startup — which views gamers’ voice chat as a prime target for a pipeline of social integrations it hopes to build. So far, it has one integration with the Viber messaging app, but it offers a “simple universal API” to encourage other platforms to sign up.
Zoom out, Voicy’s stated mission is to do for sound clips what Giphy has done 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, there’s a huge gap for audio to enhance the experience,” co-founders Xander Kanon, Joey de Kruis, and Milan Kokir suggest via email.
“As we’ve seen with memes and GIFs, people love creating creative content. From instant chat to emoticons to GIFs, we’ve seen that people worldwide want to experiment with and have fun with how they communicate – it’s one of the things we all have in common. Audio can potentially has the same, if not greater, impact on modern communications. In addition, the competition between apps and platforms is fierce, and they are all working hard to make their offerings more tacky, fun, and attractive. This is where Voice comes into play.”
“From the beginning, we developed our platform to give users the express ability to create,” they add. “Our technology directly serves that purpose through an open source approach to content, with safeguards layered to moderate. With integrations, our approach has been to connect our platform with other platforms and give users wider access to content sharing. With the addition of public API, further integrations, and a strong foundation within the platform, we believe our impact can be exponential.”
The platform fully launched in October 2020, according to the founders. They’ve increased usage to 1.1 million monthly active users at this stage (although that includes use through Viber, not just ears pulling them to their platform).
Their other usage stats include that users have created 145,000 sound clips to date, averaging 10k more per month. They also say that a Voicy user plays an average of 20 sound clips and shares one per visit.
While following their recent partnership with Viber, users have sent more than 20 million audio messages, which have been played 100 million times in just three months.
The startup plans to build a pipeline of third-party integrations to fuel further growth, with the help of a €1.2 million pre-seed raise announced today — given potential love affairs on social messaging —, streaming, and gaming platforms. Or anywhere where loud memes can find an appreciative audience.
“There are many potential integrations within social messaging, for example, WhatsApp, FB Messenger; social video – Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube; gaming – Roblox, Ubisoft, Xbox, Discord; and streaming – Twitch, Streamlabs, and Corsair,” they suggest, as they wind down the first list of consumer platforms.
Voicy’s pre-seed raise is led by Oliver Samwer’s Global Founders Capital, with several senior tech executives also joining from companies like Twitch, Spotify, Deezer, Snapchat, Booking, Uber, Reddit, Acast, and Tesla.
Soheil Mirpour of Global Founders Capital said, “Voice is a very exciting new startup. Huge potential for short audio in social communication. In short, their strong team has developed a huge community of active users who create hundreds of pieces of new audio content daily. HA Discord user spends an average of 285 minutes per day on a Didailyoice chat; people share 7 billion daily voice messages on WhatsApp alone. Billions of people use short audio in their TikTok, or Instagram Voicey brings a new concept to the table, ready to disrupt a massive 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 the general (broad) competition from other ‘shareable’ comments that consumers can easily use to express themselves, from old emoji to customizable stickers to viral GIFs?
Silent response formats (like GIFs) also essentially benefit the sizable mobile crew who “never turn up the volume” — whose tacit (hate of voice messages) explains why even short video clips made to be shared on social media usually Come with captions to provide a baked alternative to appeal to every ear. (And, well, an audio meme with the sound off is just a few sad-looking pixels, right?… It’s entirely possible, though, that this is older vs. younger generation of internet users )
Unsurprisingly, according to its founders, Voice users have been Gen Z or Gen Alpha, with a strong following amid the TikTok/Roblox generation. (“Our users use us for gaming, creation, and messaging. In our user base, most of the users are in the US (60%). Majority of users are under 35 years old (75%+)”, also confirm.)
“The advantage of a sound clip over a GIF/sound GIF is its wider applicability,” said Voicey’s founders. “Practically, you can use a sound clip in your stream, while gaming, or to edit your video or your TikTok video/Youtube Short and use it in messages. You cannot do this with an audio GIF because of the user experience and practical limitations.”
“Audio memes are fun, iconic, and unique shareable audio bites that can be used in any form of online communication to express thoughts or feelings in a specific context,” added the trio – who are self-professed avid gamers.
What about copyright risks? How do they deal with that problem? The Voice does not license audio content, but the founders suggest they will. For now, they rely on fair use to recycle samples (plus, their platform supports a DCMA reporting and disposal process). They say they also use a third-party service to prevent protected pieces from being piped into third-party platforms they integrate.
While it’s still early for such a consumer-focused product to focus on monetization, the team says they’re building Voicy as a marketplace — ultimately planning to focus on the market’s needs. Maker community.
“We believe our long-term opportunity lies in enabling creators to monetize their content,” they tell the blog line. “As the creator economy grows rapidly, we provide them with a platform to create, cut, distribute, earn, and build a community around their sonic identity. With a large integration network and a final destination platform for consuming and interacting with sounds and sound makers, Voicy can monetize its library and integrations. Voicey can offer tremendous value on both the supply and demand side.”
“More specifically, our business model will focus on sublicensing clips and providing additional premium features for creators to do what they do best: create content. Content will have the ability to be sublicensed to integration partners, fans, other creators, and premium consumers,” they add.