Spotify is preparing to debut auto-generated transcripts for its exclusive podcasts – but some are asking whether the feature will make it easier for critics of comedian Joe Rogan to pinpoint and take aim at potentially controversial comments.
The Stockholm-based audio-entertainment company revealed the imminent arrival of auto-generated podcast transcripts – and a pair of other “accessibility improvements” – via a recently published blog post. Sometime during “the coming weeks,” Spotify will officially roll out the podcast-transcription feature on iOS and Android.
Said feature is set to “automatically generate transcripts” for both Spotify’s original podcasts (such as Renegades: Born in the USA and Reba McEntire’s Living & Learning) and exclusive programs (The Joe Rogan Experience chief among them). However, the music-streaming mainstay – which has invested heavily in podcasts – also acknowledged that its “overall ambition is to enable transcripts across all podcasts.”
Once the transcription tool goes live, though, it will allow “users to read the text of the specific podcasts on their phones either with or without sound,” besides having the option of playing shows from any point throughout the text.
Joe Rogan – who inked a reportedly $100 million deal last year to bring his ultra-popular Joe Rogan Experience exclusively to Spotify – has faced pushback from some fans, public figures, and even Spotify employees over remarks made on his program.
And as this criticism arrived even though individuals had to comb through multi-hour conversations to identify the statements in question, it stands to reason that auto-generated podcast transcriptions will set the stage for swifter – and more widespread – responses to quotes from The Joe Rogan Experience.
Building upon the point, the 53-year-old Newark, New Jersey, native Rogan has long complained that his lengthy discussions are “mined” by certain observers, who then take his comments (and occasionally those of his guests) out of context.
But at the time of this piece’s publishing, it didn’t appear that the longtime UFC commentator had publicly addressed Spotify’s plans to launch a podcast-transcription function. Separately, it’ll be worth following the tool’s impact – or the potential lack thereof – on podcast listenership, as just 25 percent of the platform’s users “interacted with” (not necessarily listened to from start to finish) podcasts during Q1 2021.
The latter stat remained flat from Q4 2020, despite the fact that another 400,000 podcasts (for a total of 2.6 million) made their way onto Spotify throughout 2021’s first three months.
In terms of the two other “accessibility improvements” that Spotify is working on, the entity has retooled in-app buttons’ color, size, and text formatting on mobile, in an effort “to make it easier for low-vision and visually impaired users to spot and engage with these actions.”
Lastly, expanding the Dynamic Type text-size changes, listeners can now enlarge “the text even more, improving overall navigation on the app.”