Spotify teams up with OpenAI to let podcasters translate episodes using their own voices

Spotify on Android
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What you need to know

  • Spotify is teaming up with OpenAI to bring a new AI-powered translation feature to the platform.
  • The feature is designed to let podcasters translate their English episodes on the platform to other languages. Moreover, the episode's reproduced version will retain the podcaster's original voice.
  • OpenAI’s voice transcription tool, Whisper, is behind this new capability.
  • Podcasters can translate English episodes into Spanish, though French and German translations are expected to roll out in the coming weeks.
  • Spotify has limited the availability of the feature to "a select group" of podcasters and hasn't indicated when it's set to ship to broad availability.

In the past few years, people have transitioned from mainstream TV to digital platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and more as their main sources for information and news. This can be attributed to the fact that you can access the information whenever you want and, at the same time, get to consume the information at your own pace.

Podcasts are a huge hit, particularly on Spotify. However, most of the shows are recorded in English, which prevents them from realizing their maximum potential. While some podcasts are posting great engagement, it could be better if the language barrier wasn't an issue.

Luckily, Spotify has clocked this issue and is introducing a new AI-powered translation feature. The feature is designed to let podcasters reproduce podcasts in other languages. What's more, to retain authenticity and the raw form of the show, the feature will reproduce the content using the podcaster's voice, according to a spot by The Verge

Spotify is already working with several podcasters, including Dax Shepard, Monica Padman, Lex Fridman, and more, to translate their English episodes to Spanish. The company added that there are plans underway to roll out French and German translations in 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 Personalization VP

The new translation feature leverages OpenAI’s voice transcription tool, Whisper, to reproduce the shows in other languages. For those unfamiliar with Whisper, it's an automatic speech recognition (ASR) system trained on 680,000 hours of multilingual and multitask data picked from the web that supports transcription in multiple languages. Likewise, it can be used to translate other languages into English.

If you're curious and would like to know how this feature works, you can check out Lex Fridman's original episode on Yuval Noah Harari and compare it with the version reproduced in Spanish.

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This new translation feature will undoubtedly allow podcasters to tap into newer markets and crowds. The language barrier has posed a great challenge, especially to non-English speaking users, limiting them to a finite number of shows.

To this end, the translation feature is limited to "a select group" of podcasters. It's not yet clear when the company will ship the neat tool to broad availability, but it is a welcomed addition that will help podcasters expand their reach and engagement.  

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.