Spotify generates AI versions of its popular podcast hosts for targeted advertising

Credit: Austin Distel

Spotify is currently developing AI versions of its popular podcast hosts to read ads – but is that the limit? Probably not.

Bill Simmons, founder of the podcast network The Ringer, shared the news on a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast. “I don’t think Spotify will be mad at me about it, but we’re developing the stuff,” Simmons told his guest on the episode. “There will be a way to use my voice for advertising. Of course you give your approval to the voice, but it opens up all these different great possibilities from an advertising perspective.”

Simmons sold his podcast network The Ringer to Spotify in February 2020 for an estimated $250 million. He highlights the use of his voice to personalize ads for a ticket company and swap cities and dates on the fly with his AI-generated voice. Simmons also discusses AI’s ability to make podcasts more accessible through translation. This is great for Bill, and Generative AI certainly has its benefits, but I can’t help but look at this from Spotify’s perspective.

Once the company has an AI-generated model of Simmons’ voice, what’s the point of keeping him? Much like Apple did with Susan Bennett, the voice of Siri, once you’ve captured all the unique sounds a human can make with their organic voice box, you don’t need to pay the creator any further. Speech AI technology has reached a point where a model, once trained on a person’s voice, can generate convincing-sounding speech from any text input.

Such services already exist for small podcasters to train AI models of their own voice. “Save countless hours by letting Revoice handle your repetitive tasks. From podcast intros to promotional segments and voiceovers to entire episodes, you can generate anything you need with your natural voice by simply writing a script and letting our AI do the rest,” reads one pitch.

Isn’t the podcast about human connection and enjoyment? How much of this is possible when the content is AI generated? Of course, it starts with “personalized ads,” but it will never stop at advertising.