Spotify has made some high-profile deals in recent years, including a US$200 million multi-year exclusive pact with podcaster Joe Rogan, $196 million for the Ringer sports and pop culture site, and $56 million for the Parcast production company, known for its true crime podcasts.
The company on Monday announced a pilot program called Voice Translation for podcasts that not only translates a podcast from one language to another but will retain the podcaster’s voice as it does it.
“I’m very skeptical of how effective this will be,” he asserted.
“If there is a high-demand podcast that is only recorded in English, then this technology could expose that program to audiences in Japan or France, for example, and help Spotify sell more subscriptions in those countries,” he told TechNewsWorld.
In the future, Spotify also plans to translate episodes of Dax Shepard’s “eff won with DRS,” “The Rewatchables” from The Ringer, and Trevor Noah’s new original podcast to be launched later this year.
Spotify is opening up foreign language markets to its podcasters through artificial intelligence.
“The technology can be quite dangerous and potentially exploitative,” Sterling said. “It’s already being used in frauds and scams. And there are unauthorized uses of celebrity voice clones already happening in audiobook recordings.”
Translations could create legal problems for podcasters, too.
While Spotify is out front with its translation tool now, its lead could fizzle fast. “This is not just going to be Spotify’s technology,” Curran cautioned, “Spotify is the first, big creator platform to do this, but it’s going to be a short time until we see this on platforms like YouTube.”
Potentially Dangerous Technology
“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,” Spotify Vice President of Personalization Ziad Sultan said in a statement.
The pilot program will feature select podcasts from Dax Shepard, Monica Padman, Lex Fridman, Bill Simmons, and Steven Bartlett, translated into Spanish, French, and German.
“This potentially benefits both Spotify and the podcaster by expanding audience reach,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Despite the benefits of Spotify’s new translation tool, its underlying technology has a dark side, too.
“It needs to be used with caution and in every case with the subject’s permission,” he continued. “But the power imbalance between platforms and individuals on them may not generate equitable use cases of voice AI. There need to be clear, ethical guidelines in place.”
Ashu Dubey, co-founder and CEO of Gleen, a generative AI company in Pleasanton, Calif., agreed that the translation tool could have a positive impact on Spotify’s bottom line.
“The appropriate jurisdiction and venue for such claims would depend on the facts of a specific situation, but it is not unheard of for a plaintiff in one country to obtain a judgment against a defendant in another county,” she told TechNewsWorld.
Spotify’s new translation tool, which uses OpenAI’s voice generation technology, can clone a speaker’s voice characteristics to make a translation sound more natural.
“This represents a democratization of language AI capabilities,” he told TechNewsWorld. “That’s following the pattern of the last couple of years of these really advanced functionalities becoming available to a very broad set of folks.”