Spotify tests AI to translate podcasts into multiple languages using the host’s voice

Voice-translated test episodes are now available worldwide in Spanish

Audio giant Spotify is testing the use of artificial intelligence technology to translate podcasts into multiple languages using the host’s voice, the company’s chief executive officer Daniel Ek has announced.

Ek posted a tweet on Monday stating that Spotify has launched its pilot-run of English podcasts that have been translated into Spanish, with a video including snippets from hit shows like Diary of A CEO with Steven Bartlett and the Lex Fridman Podcast.

“Podcasters - what if I told you could offer your pod to any listener around the world, in their own local language but still keep it in your own voice?” said Ek in his tweet. “It’s called Voice Translation and using AI, translates podcasts episodes into alternate languages, all in the podcaster’s voice. It’s pretty insane.” 

Spotify has also been testing voice translation on episodes from the Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard podcast. The pilot is set to feature translations in other languages including French and German and will later test voice translation on other podcasts including Dax Shepard’s eff won with DRS, The Rewatchables from The Ringer, and Trevor Noah’s upcoming Spotify original podcast. 

Users worldwide can now listen to voice-translated episodes from Spotify’s pilot season on the platform in the Now Playing view with episodes from DOAC, Armchair Expert, and Lex Fridman available in Spanish. The audio giant will be rolling out more episodes and translations into other languages 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,” said Spotify vice president of personalisation Ziad Sultan. “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.”

According to founder and chief executive officer of audio adtech company A Million Ads (AMA) Steve Dunlop, this new development from Spotify will be beneficial for podcast advertisers as a larger market would lead to more monetisation opportunities for podcast content and attract more investments from bigger brands. 

“The true benefit of Spotify’s AI-powered podcast language translation is its ability to expand the global podcast market by introducing popular titles to entirely new audiences,” said Dunlop. “This technology enables podcasts to move beyond language barriers whilst retaining the unique style and charisma of their hosts, a critical factor in their initial success.

“The utilisation of tech like dynamic audio would then allow for those ads to be personalised at a scale that aligns with the growing market. In essence, this development has the potential to scale the podcasting landscape, making it more accessible and lucrative than ever before.”

In May, Simmons said in his podcast that Spotify is developing AI technology that can use a podcast host’s voice to develop host-read ads which opens up more opportunities for advertisers and allows podcasters to geo-target ads. At the time Spotify neither confirmed nor denied these comments - as reported by Tech Crunch - but a spokesperson said that the platform is always working on enhancing the Spotify experience and testing new offerings that benefit creators, advertisers, and users.