Spotify AI Tool Translates Podcasts In Speaker’s Own Voice

Spotify said on Monday it is testing an AI-powered system that translates podcasts from English into other languages using the speaker’s own voice.

Spotify said it is initially testing the new feature with a “select group” of podcasters including Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, Lex Fridman, Steven Bartlett and Bill Simmons.

Voice-translated episodes are available worldwide as of Monday initially in Spanish, with French and German to roll out in the coming weeks.

The feature uses recently released voice translation technology from OpenAI that Spotify says results in a “more authentic listening experience” that is “more personal and natural than traditional dubbing”.

Voice Translation

“By matching the creator’s own voice, Voice Translation gives listeners around the world the power to discover and be inspired by new podcasters in a more authentic way than ever before,” said Spotify vice president of personalisation Ziad Sultan.

He said a “thoughtful approach to AI” could help “build deeper connections between listeners and creators”.

Also on Monday, OpenAI announced a tool that can create “human-like audio” from text and a few seconds of sample speech, but said it would initially be limiting how widely the tool would be available due to concerns around safety and privacy.

The translation pilot is Spotify’s latest effort to test ways to create profits from generative artificial intelligence since the technology spiked in popularity with the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last November.

AI advance

But along with its success, generative AI tools have also attracted controversy, with OpenAI facing a lawsuit by more than a dozen well-known authors for allegedly pirating their work for use in training ChatGPT.

Concerns over the use of AI to replace human actors are also a key issue in a strike by a US union representing screen actors that began in July.

Spotify has spent aggressively on its podcast business in recent years, hoping to create original content that, unlike music, doesn’t incur royalty fees with each download.

But the strategy saw the company’s operating expenditure jump at twice the speed of its revenue last year, leading to a reorganisation of the business in June that saw 200 staff laid off.

Spotify’s head of podcast business Sahar Elhabashi said the company would refocus on partnerships with “leading podcasters from across the globe” while continuing to develop some original content.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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