Listening into the market for voice
Soundeals is serving in an industry that never dies. The media industry is the past, present and future
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Voices.com estimates the global voiceover industry to be $4.4 billion in 2017. That’s worth about 15,000 apartments in Downtown. Approximately 20,000 Ferraris.
Interestingly, voice is one area where artificial intelligence loses the plot. Human beings have developed an unwritten code relating to verbal signals over millennia of dealing with billions and billions of life-threatening and life-enhancing situations. Computers cannot connect emotions to the words that are being used.
Speaking on a related subject, French songwriter Benoit Carre in a January 2018 BBC article says: “A human is always needed to stitch the songs together, give them structure and emotion. Without people, (its) songs would be a bit rubbish. The ‘it’ refers to a highly advanced artificial intelligence-based music composing tool called Flow Machines.
So what is Soundeals and who is AbdAllah Khashaba? Speaking about his company, Khashaba says: “Soundeals is serving in an industry that never dies. The media industry is the past, present and the future.”
He elaborates, “Soundeals is future-ready, because the future is for online services and costs reduction is a demand across the world. If we consider the opportunities smart cities present, and the amount of governmental facilities and companies using voice recording every day in their IVR system only, it is enormous. Think about radio ads, TV ads, audiobooks, e-learning, YouTube videos and any related voice recordings, and it becomes obvious that voice is an everyday essential.”
But what if voice is delivered by engines similar to the ones that power Alexa and Siri? There is quite a bit of runway before machine-generated sounds can capture all the nuances of the human voice. Soundeals aims to tap into this gap and grow. Khashaba takes pride in saying, “Soundeals is growing rapidly. As of the first half of 2017, 303 projects were delivered while in the first half of 2018, 1,035 projects were delivered. By 2020, we are expecting to deliver 12,000 projects per year.”
When quizzed about what is behind this trajectory, he points to two core engines. One is the secular, burgeoning need for voice content from multiple sources. The second is Soundeals’ own methodology to tap into this need and the way it seeks to differentiate itself from competition.
First, the need for voiceover is growing from multiple sectors. About 58 per cent of global demand is from the entertainment industry, the largest ‘consumer’ in the category. 19 per cent comes from advertising, 18 per cent from business and 5 per cent from education. It is core to digital media production. This includes placement of digital advertisements and content via social media and traditional. TV, radio and Internet. Then there is e-learning content, animation movies, games, VR, AR and audio books. Plus corporate demand for IVR recordings, events presentations and internal broadcasting.
Second is how Soundeals intends to capture share of this market. It’s started through geo-centering in the Middle East. It then layers on a quality assurance protocol for buyer-and-seller protection. Once this is done, it creates a fully self-serving marketplace, stepping in only when required. All negotiations, deals and payments happen automatically.
The revenue model has four drivers. The basic is the commissionbased stream based on pure deal closure. The second is the availability of ancillary products and services that relate to voice and non-voice elements. Another driver is a bespoke service capability that enables buyers to commission the company to fulfil the order. The last driver is advertising revenue through placements on the company website.
The co-founders are AbdAllah Khashaba and Khuzi Al Rawas. AbdAllah is a 30 year-old Egyptian engineer who’s led the development and management process of the platform. Al Rawas is also of the same age and is an Omani businessman who’s the seed funder of the initiative.