If meme stocks can be a thing, what stops audio meme sharing from going viral? Voicy, a Netherlands-based startup building a platform for user-generated audio snippets (typically a few seconds long), offers tools to create. emotional samples to share reactions to liven up your messages/broadcasts.
It’s not hard to predict where this idea is going: straight into fart sfx and pwning troll clips, which indeed abound on this fledgling platform for user-generated (or, well, sampled) audio. Dank audio memes anyone?
Other viral noises are available. borate clips, for example, or squid game sounds Plus a cacophony of overzealous internet memes in audio form. John Oliver yelling “GOOGÉALA!” repeatedly, or Epic Sax Guy’s epic saxophone, and so on.
The typical Voicy user is, unsurprisingly, young and happy, according to the startup, which envisions gamers’ 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 offers a “simple universal API” to encourage other platforms to sign up.
Stepping away, Voicy’s stated mission is to do with sound clips what Giphy has done with GIFs.
“We want to create a new way for people to creatively express themselves in the way they communicate. In areas like gaming, where communicating with images or text doesn’t work as well, there’s a huge gap for audio to really 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 to create 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 experiment with and just have fun with the way they communicate – it’s one of the things we all have in common. In addition to this, the competition between apps and platforms is immense and all of them are working hard to make their offer more engaging, fun and engaging. This is where Voicy comes into play.”
“From the ground up, we have built our platform to give users the express ability to create,” they add. “Our technology directly serves that purpose through an open source content approach, with moderately layered protections. With integrations, our focus has been to connect our platform with other platforms and give users greater accessibility to share content. With the addition of the public API, more 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, and they’ve grown usage to 1.1 million monthly active users at this stage (although that includes usage through Viber, not just the ears that are using on your own platform).
Other usage metrics they share include that users have created about 145,000 sound clips so far, with an average of 10,000 more being added per month. They also say that a Voicy user plays, on average, 20 sound clips and shares one per visit.
Although, following its 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 portfolio of third-party integrations to drive further growth, aided by a €1.2 million pre-seed raise that was announced today: looking at possible loves across social messaging, streaming, and gaming platforms. Or basically anywhere 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; games: Roblox, Ubisoft, Xbox, Discord; and streaming: Twitch, Streamlabs, and Corsair,” they suggest, going through the list of top-tier consumer platforms.
Voicy’s pre-seed rise is led by Oliver Samwer’s Global Founders Capital, with a number of top tech 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 company. In a short time, their strong team has grown a huge community of very active users who are creating hundreds of pieces of new audio content every day. There is a lot of potential for short audio in social communication. A Discord user spends an average of 285 minutes a day in 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, one that is poised to disrupt a huge market – we knew we had to invest.”
But why do web users need audio memes when audio GIFs already exist? Isn’t this a rather niche proposition, given the existing overlap, plus general (broad) competition from other consumers of reaction ‘shares’ that consumers can easily use to express themselves, from old emoji to customizable stickers? and the viral GIFs?
Soundless reaction formats (such as GIFs) are also essentially a boon to the sizable “never turn up the volume” mobile team, whose silence-loving (voicemail-hating) existence explains why even the short video clips we they are made for sharing on social media they usually come with subtitles to provide a baked alternative to appeal to any ear. (And, well, an audio meme with the sound turned off is just a few sad-looking pixels, right?… However, it’s entirely possible that this is an older generation vs. younger 😬)
Not surprisingly, Voicy’s users so far are either Gen Z or Gen Alpha, with a strong following in the midst of 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 the age of 35 (75% or more)”, also confirm.)
“The advantage of a sound clip over a sound GIF/GIF is its broader applicability,” argue the founders of Voicy. “You can pretty much 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 messaging. You simply can’t do this with an audio GIF due to user experience and practical limitations.”
“Audio memes are hilarious, iconic and unique sharable audio snippets that can be used in any form of online communication to express thoughts or feelings in a specific context,” add the trio, self-proclaimed avid gamers. .
What about risks around copyright? How are you handling that issue? Voicy is not currently licensing any audio content, but the founders suggest they might in the future. For now, they rely on fair use to recirculate samples (plus, their platform supports a DCMA notice and takedown procedure). They say they are also using a third-party service to prevent protected samples from being funneled to the third-party platforms they integrate with.
While it’s early days for such a consumer-centric product to focus on monetization, the team says they’re building Voicy as a marketplace and ultimately intend to focus on the needs of the creator community.
“We think our long-term opportunity lies in allowing creators to monetize their content,” they tell TechCrunch. “As the economy for creators continues to grow at a rapid rate, we are giving them a platform to create, clip, distribute, earn and build a community around their sonic identity. With a large integration network and platform as the ultimate destination to consume and engage with sounds and sound creators, Voicy can monetize its library and integrations. Voicy can provide a lot of value on both the supply side and the demand side.”
“More specifically, our business model will focus on sub-licensing clips and providing additional premium features for creators to do what they do best: create content. Content will have the ability to be sub-licensed to integration partners, fans, other creators, and premium consumers.