Hablas robot? Spotify is testing out a way for podcasters to reach listeners in different languages, using artificial-intelligence technology that emulates the podcaster’s own voice.
As part of the pilot, Spotify worked with a “select group” of podcasters — Dax Shepard and Monica Padman (“Armchair Expert”), Lex Fridman, Steven Bartlett (“The Diary of a CEO”) and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons — to generate AI-powered voice translations in other languages including Spanish, French and German for a few episodes. (Hear examples of AI-generated translations into Spanish, below.) Other shows Spotify expects to include in the voice-translation test include Dax Shepard’s “eff won with DRS,” “The Rewatchables” from Spotify’s The Ringer and Trevor Noah’s new original podcast, slated to launch later this year.
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The Spotify-developed tool uses OpenAI’s recently released voice-generation technology to match the original speaker’s style. That, according to Spotify, results in a “more authentic listening experience” that sounds “more personal and natural than traditional dubbing.”
Voice-translated episodes from the creators in Spotify’s pilot will be available worldwide on the platform. These episodes will begin to roll out to users on the “Now Playing” view starting Monday, Sept. 25, initially in Spanish, with French and German translations rolling out over the coming weeks.
“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,” Ziad Sultan, Spotify’s VP of personalization, said in a statement. “We believe that a thoughtful approach to AI can help build deeper connections between listeners and creators, a key component of Spotify’s mission to unlock the potential of human creativity.”
Currently, Spotify says, it has more than 100 million podcast listeners globally and more than 5 million podcast titles available in 170-plus markets. The company was the largest U.S. podcast network based on reach from Q4 2022 to Q2 2023, according to Edison Research.
In June 2023, the company reorganized its podcasting group, laying off 200 staffers. In a memo to staffers, Sahar Elhabashi, Spotify’s VP, head of podcast business, said the company would focus more on partnerships with “leading podcasters from across the globe.” Spotify continues to curate a lineup of originals, with recent and upcoming launches including Alex Cooper’s “Call Her Daddy” Season 4, “Case 63” Season 2 starring Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac, and “The Riddler: Secrets in the Dark” starring Hasan Minhaj.
Listen to examples of Spotify’s AI-based podcast language translations:
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