Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

David Ciccarelli started in 2005.

Cornelia Klimek/Handout

When David and Stephanie Ciccarelli started voiceover marketplace in 2005, most of their company’s work involved commercial spots and phone greetings.

Their automated platform was good at matching voice talent for simple, 30-second radio commercials or telephone-assistance recordings (“Press pound for more options”), but as they began moving upmarket to larger projects, their clients’ needs became more complex.

“To put some context around this, this is no longer the one-minute explainer video,” Mr. Ciccarelli says. “I’m talking about 10 hours of corporate training, e-learning modules, in 10 different languages. And all of a sudden, you end up with 100 hours of audio content that needs the help of an account manager to quote that deal, to size it up, to scope how much work is involved.”

Story continues below advertisement

The company responded by growing the full-service side of its business, which included hiring account managers to walk clients through the detailed contracts and logistics.

Full service grew to become one of the strongest areas for London, Ont.-based Still, it meant the company could only expand so quickly, given that the full-service side relied heavily on staffing and direct contact with clients.

To grow even faster, the company decided it had to refocus on its technology and user experience, while saving its full-service department for its biggest clients.

Redirecting the more complicated jobs back onto the self-service platform meant hiring a new team of engineers and user-experience designers, under a newly hired vice-president of product.

“That whole team is absolutely new in the last year,” Mr. Ciccarelli says, noting that before it was just him, engineers and developers. “Basically, anything that we used to have to do through customer service can now be done in a self-service capacity.”

The revised strategy was also the only way the company could attract significant private-equity investment, Mr. Ciccarelli says.

“Doing more of the same wasn’t going to be anything that any investor was going to be interested in,” Mr. Ciccarelli says. “There needed to be some big bet, some play, something that’s going to propel Voices as a leader within the space.”

Story continues below advertisement

Shortly after receiving US$18-million in July 2017 from Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, a private-equity group within the investment bank, the company bought Voicebank, a voiceover platform used mainly by talent agents and producers. It was the more established side of the industry that coveted, in particular the work for unionized members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in the U.S. and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) in Canada.

Voicebank’s brand loyalty was so strong that an acquisition made more sense than building a competing platform. But its technology badly needed updating, and the distinction between and Voicebank as separate brands had become confusing, Mr. Ciccarelli says.

“We said, ‘Look, we’re better off unifying these two brands under the one flag which is Voices,’” Mr. Ciccarelli says. In 2018, Voicebank was merged within

Today, the online platform enables voice artists to post their audio clips and list their voice skills (such as North American everyman or dry, BBC-accented expert). The company then corrals its members’ clips and skills into an algorithm, matching them with jobs, which can be anything from reciting a few seconds of ad copy to recording hours of narration. It tries to keep the selection to between 20 and 50 voice artists, so that clients don’t get inundated with too many artists auditioning at once. charges members US$499 annually for access to job postings and audition functions. (A member can list for free, but with access to far fewer online features. There is also an annual US$2,999, invitation-only service that gives extra exposure and insight into potential jobs.) The company also charges clients a platform fee, which is an additional 20 per cent on top of the talent fee. The service recently attracted one million registered users, and in 2019 listed nearly 50,000 job postings, according to the company.

While new technology makes voiceover work easier, it can still be a frantic process, according to Los Angeles-based voice actor John Kubin. He responds to as many audition requests as he can, even taking his microphone and laptop on vacation to record and send clips.

Story continues below advertisement

“I’ve been pretty successful on Voices and everything, but still, even this morning, I had to get up early. I have to jump on every single audition. I have good repeat clients, but stuff just comes so fast,” he says.

The voiceover industry also remains fragmented. Kim Handysides, a Montreal-based actor and former broadcast journalist, has been recording voiceovers since the 1980s and was the voice of the Jean Coutu retail chain for 25 years. For jobs in French, she is typically cast as la femme de Toronto.

“Voices probably accounts for 15-to-20 per cent of what I get,” she says. “I have a number of different sources, always have.”

Ms. Handysides also has a recording set-up at home, allowing her to record and send work without having to go to a studio – which has been an advantage during the current coronavirus pandemic.

For producers like Jane Rowan, online platforms are seen as a resource to find specific voice skills, but experience with a voice actor matters greatly.

“For us, because we are a professional production company, we really like to know that we can trust our voices, that we know them, that they are directable, that we are sure we are going to get what we want from them,” says Ms. Rowan, a production manager and audio producer at MJM Media in Hamilton. “And the only way to really do that is to nurture them.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Ciccarelli acknowledges these multiple sides of the industry.

“We’ve always said, it’s one arrow in your marketing quiver,” he says. “You should have your own website. You should have a profile on Voices. You have some agents. You get to know some local recording studios. You talk to creative firms. These are all the things that talent does nowadays. They are really running their own businesses.”

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies