afaqs! news bureau

Arré unveils ‘PROJECT VOICE’ : A Women-first, Audio App

Disruptive tools across recorded & gamified live environments aimed at empowering creators and entertaining users.

Arré today announced “Project Voice”, a women-first audio app aimed at building a new generation of creators. The app (beta version) is currently live on the Play Store and open on an invitation basis to women and anyone who identifies as a woman. Having started in Hindi, Tamil and English, the product will soon offer multiple Indian & global language options of creating audio content.

Between the 30-seconds recorded pods and live, gamified ‘group pods’, the app is already home to thousands of streams of content – from poetry and music to self-help, language lessons and even the sharing of personal & intimate experiences in the realm of mental wellness, relationships, child-rearing & other topics that thrive in a supportive community. Creators are using the unique format of a 30 second “Voicepod”, either raw or edited with filters, background music and other studio tools, to express themselves. The app offers creation possibilities in offline, live and live-group modes, where women can meet in private or public spaces to talk or listen in.

Conceptualised and developed over the challenging phases of Covid, the product has been designed to make the creator process intuitive and fun. Led by Vimal Kumar, who was previously leading teams at Tiktok, Hotstar and Resso, the product design also features an in-built studio programmed and choreographed by musician Ankur Tewari (Gully Boy, Gehraiyaan), Ayesha Sood (Arré’s Trial by Error Podcast creator and award winning film director) and Jam 8 (audio studio by Pritam), in close association with the engineering and design talent handpicked from across global and Indian media, tech and commerce companies.

The app will launch on IOS in the next few weeks and over the next 6 months will be adding several new features like shopping and transaction tools. It will also include features like campaign management and discovery tools for brands, with voice commands for a better hands-free experience.

Speaking on the move into the creator economy, B. Saikumar, Founder, Arré said “Project Arré Voice has been our stealth mode obsession for the last 24 months borne out of many lockdown ruminations. And this is now the blueprint for Arré - to straddle the spectrum of professional content creators via our studio and media business and 'citizen creators’ through our media-tech venture, Project Voice. The world of entertainment and commerce will look very different once the lines between citizen creators and professional creators are re-drawn and that’s the vision that is consuming us”

The app is currently inviting women only, with the idea of using their support in building and moderating community guidelines to create a safe space for women however as machine learning and AI tools become adept at robust moderation, we will consider opening up to all genders and pronouns, with equal rights and privileges of consumption and creation, principled on equality but uncompromised on the vision of creating a safer world for true expression.

Speaking on going women-first, Niyati Merchant, co-founder and COO, Arré said “Women are now defining the social, cultural and economic narrative of the world and our product is sitting at a vantage to tap into this and give it wings. Project Voice exists to bring to the fore many such voices unleashing the potential of the ‘her’ economy even while focussing on providing safety along with an ability to ‘create unguarded’. The challenges for women in the offline world are only multiplied and hardened in the online world – issues around safety, trolling, stereotyping etc continue to abound and grow and it is our endeavour to create a new world, the constitution of which is written by a community of women. Once the guidelines are in place, we shall open the gates to all others. A new, better world is going to be a constant endeavour of Project Voice.’’

Speaking on the decision to open the project with Audio, Maneesha Singh, Senior Vice President & Vimal Kumar, Product Head, Project Arré Voice said, “This wasn’t a tough choice at all since we look at audio as not only the most authentic but also the most human and simple way to express and consume. We have also attempted to make the entire creation process much simpler compared to any other format or medium, thereby democratising the opportunity and the playing field which will not only include our time on social media but also our hands-free time while driving, walking or doing daily chores. With audio, we hope to go deep and wide into the world of existing and potential creators with a view that anyone can be a creator and once a creator, anyone can become an enterprise. From Sheila to Sheila Inc.”

The timing of the app is also significant. Apart from the exponentially growing digital advertising market including creator or influencer led advertising pegged to be USD 12.6 Bn by 2027, social and community commerce is a huge and exponentially growing opportunity. The global social commerce market is expected to reach USD 2.0 Tn by 2027. Even India, which is at a nascent stage of social commerce acceptance currently, is likely to be a USD 16-20 Bn market by 2025. NFTs, micro-transactions like tipping are only a few innovations buoying the creator economy, and there’s more to come.

The brand name & logo design for the project is being finalised and will be unveiled soon.

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