We talked to Mony Raanan of Voice Crafters about voice overs and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mony Raanan: Thankfully, we are all doing well. We have a 5-year old son, and during the first months of the pandemic, it was incredibly difficult for my wife and me to work from home while he was in desperate need of activity and companionship.
He was later able to go to a school where kids his age studied in small classrooms while others joined via Zoom. Obviously, that was a huge load off for us, even if for just a few hours, as it really helped me work without too many interruptions and manage the daily operations of the business.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Voice Crafters.
Mony Raanan: I founded Voice Crafters in 2009. Initially, I wasn’t really sure of the direction the company would embark on. I was essentially a freelancer in a recording studio that operated out my bedroom. I composed music for video games and recorded demos for voice artists that would later be uploaded to the website.
Slowly, we evolved into an agency of several hundred voice actors. I found that I can collaborate with independent professionals as well as studios around the world and do the post-production work my clients needed at my studio.
However, I was still looking for ways to scale the business, so we built and launched a professional voice over marketplace at the end of 2019. This was a major development effort that took over 7 months and is constantly evolving. We currently cater to thousands of clients around the world seeking professional voice overs for commercials, e-learning, corporate videos, and more – in over 80 languages.
During that same year, I also launched Audio Buzz, a royalty-free music catalog with an innovative tool called video preview. This tool allows users to comp music with their video in real-time so they can find the right piece of music in about half the time it would normally take.
How does Voice Crafters innovate?
Mony Raanan: We do things differently in several ways.
Most voice over marketplaces in our industry charge voice actors a recurring membership fee to join and audition for potential projects.
The biggest marketplaces don’t vet talent and basically allow anyone to join because it is beneficial for their business.
At Voice Crafters, we pre-screen every voice actor and make sure they have at least 5 years of commercial experience, as well as a studio where they can self-produce broadcast-quality voice recordings.
Besides our support for fair pay for our talent, we do not charge voice artists a membership fee but rather a small commission for jobs they are awarded. This means they don’t have to “pay to play”, like they would with other major marketplaces in the industry.
Clients benefit from working directly with talent through our platform, knowing that they receive a product from an artist who invested years in their craft and that the audio quality will be flawless.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Mony Raanan: We’ve had two staff members get very sick and unable to work for several weeks. Another voice actor who is a dear friend is still suffering the aftermath of contracting the disease. These were definitely difficult times, and I wanted to be there and support them as best as I could.
Business-wise, for myself and other voice actors, the pandemic actually presented many opportunities. Obviously, there were many businesses that were affected negatively, and as a result, there was a decline in video production, followed by a decline in post-production and audio work in general.
However, there are many different applications for voice recordings, so there were opportunities in online training courses, commercials, and the many COVID-19 infomercials you would see and hear on the radio, TV, and online.
Our community rose to the challenge, and many voice actors actually offered recording COVID-related PSAs (Public Service Announcements) free of charge or at a highly discounted rate, which was amazing and inspirational to witness. It was also a means for voice artists to engage with new clients who would later work with them on other projects.
In fact, Voice Crafters’ new business model was put to the test during the pandemic and turned out to be a huge success, both for voice talent and clients.
We get recurring business from clients who had a positive experience with one or more voice actors and continue to work with them through the platform. The feedback we receive daily is amazing, so this tells us it was the right move.
What management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Mony Raanan: Our team consists of a developer, a graphic designer, two bloggers, a sound editor, two marketers, and a bookkeeper.
Since everyone works remotely, I believe it’s crucial for managers to stay on top of how team members cope with the pandemic, be it the mental, social, or any other aspect of it. I think It’s very important to be aware and supportive of the mental pressures that arise as a result of a prolonged quarantine (especially with children) and offer help and support where possible.
Even an open and earnest conversation can help in healing any underlying issues. This is especially important with remote workers where there’s no face-to-face communication, and a lot can get lost in translation.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mony Raanan: Our competitors are major P2P marketplaces and voice over agencies.
We believe that by maintaining our vision of providing very high-quality voice over solutions coupled with an excellent customer experience, we will win a bigger market share simply by word of mouth and our organic marketing efforts. We are already witnessing the amazing growth of our online platform, and we’re planning for more of it during 2021 and beyond.
Your final thoughts?
Mony Raanan: The pandemic has hit everyone in one way or another. There are many who have lost their jobs and are faced with difficult options.
We have been truly blessed to be in an industry that wasn’t severely affected by the pandemic, and we are still going strong.
As with any hardship, I do believe there’s an opportunity if you look for it. There are opportunities to thrive online like never before in our history, for example.
But more importantly, the pandemic has given us a chance to reflect on our lives and what is important. How much quality time we spend with our family, how we treat animals, and the environment. I think it’s important to learn from this experience, rather than simply waiting anxiously for things to go back to how they were – so that we can go on living in the same way as if nothing occurred.