by David Brancaccio on Marketplace Tech Report for Thursday, October 4, 2012

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woman records voice over in studio

A woman sits in front of a microphone in a recording studio. VoiceBunny, a New York City startup, aims use crowdsourcing to find voice-over talent. [Tim Whitby/Getty Images]

Crowd-sourcing: reaching out to the entire planet in search of talent to solve problems. Crowdsourcing is the job market of the future, many argue, but how does it play out in the specific case of one New York startup called VoiceBunny?

CEO Alex Torrenegra is about to test his software in front of about a thousand people. He’s at the monthly New York Tech Meetup, where startups go to pitch. Torrenegra noticed that in this multimedia age, there’s huge demand for voice-overs: Online videos, advertisements and blogs that get turned into podcasts all need voices.

With VoiceBunny, a client offers a script online and people who know how to read aloud offer their services. The software can help choose. In front of the crowd, Torrenegra asks the host of the event to think up some random phrase as a test. The host chooses “he shoots…he scores!” The phrase is typed into the software in search of voice to record it right away for a fee.

But not a high fee, “A lot of people tend to think this is super-expensive,” says Tania Zapata is VoiceBunny’s VP, “but we’re going to show them how affordable this could be to have a professional voice.”

Not a lot of money is changing hands here. In one example, the client pays $11 for a short voiceover plus a $2.20 service fee. In a studio in San Juan, Puerto Rico two blocks from the beach, sits Michael Lane, who worked for years in radio in places like Louisiana and Georgia. He has just recorded a commercial for a video game through VoiceBunny. While most of his income is from bigger gigs outside of that service, every little bit helps.

“The neat thing about VoiceBunny,” says Lane, “is that it’s butter and egg money. It’s like…I’m not going to live off VoiceBunny but if on this particular day I need 30 bucks, I’ll watch VoiceBunny really hard and chances are something will come up and if I respond and if I respond quickly, that’s a possibility.”

The thing is, pros like him are sitting there at their computer screens at all hours ready to snap into action, getting jobs that staff announcers thought they had all locked up.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio and @MarketplaceTech
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