Spotify has launched a pilot called Voice Translation for podcasts, an AI-powered system that clones original voices as it translates podcasts into different languages using technology from OpenAI. The initiative includes podcasters such as Dax Shepard, Monica Padman, Lex Fridman, Bill Simmons, and Steven Bartlett, and it provides AI-powered voice translations in Spanish, French, and German for select episodes.
Ziad Sultan, VP of Personalization at Spotify, emphasizes the feature’s ability to enhance global podcast discovery: “By matching the creator’s own voice, Voice Translation allows listeners worldwide to discover new podcasters more authentically.”
The translated episodes, available to both Premium and Free users worldwide, maintain the speaker’s distinctive speech characteristics, offering a more natural and personal listening experience. Episodes such as Lex Fridman’s “Interview with Yuval Noah Harari” and Steven Bartlett’s “Interview with Dr. Mindy Pelz” are now globally accessible, bridging linguistic gaps and broadening the scope of global podcast listenership.
This may be an obvious use case for voice cloning and translation technology, but success is far from guaranteed. Translation is cultural and complicated. Metaphor does not always translate, humor is highly regional, timing is correlated with sentence structure… said differently, something may be hysterically funny in New York but be a total head-scratcher everywhere else.
Universal translation is a worthy goal; kudos to Spotify and OpenAI for this awesome pilot. My friends at Google Translate have told me that English is understood by approximately 20 percent of the global population. (Anecdotally, approximately 50 percent of the web is written in English.) Imagine how much value could be unlocked by making all of Spotify’s English language audio available to the rest of the world.
Now, imagine how much value you would unlock in your business if you could universally translate your content. AI-powered video dubbing and voice cloning services are widely available, and prices are dropping quickly. At some point in the very near future, you should expect universal translation to become as commonplace as Instagram filters.
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.