Spotify is developing AI versions of its popular podcast hosts to read ads for now—but is that the limit? Likely 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 is going to get mad at me for this, but we’re developing that stuff,” Simmons told his guest on the episode. “There is going to be a way to use my voice for the ads. You obviously give the approval for the voice, but it opens up, from an advertising standpoint, all these different great possibilities.”
Simmons sold his The Ringer podcast network to Spotify in February 2020 for an estimated $250 million. He highlights the use of his voice to personalize ads for a ticketing company, switching out cities and dates on the fly with his AI-generated voice. Simmons also discusses the ability of AI to make podcasts more accessible through translation. That’s great for Bill and generative AI certainly has its positives, but I can’t help but look at this from Spotify’s point of view.
Once the company has an AI generated model of Simmons’ voice, what’s the point in keeping him around? Much like Apple with Susan Bennett, the voice of Siri, you don’t need to keep paying the creator when you’ve captured all of the unique sounds a human can make with their organic voice box. Voice AI tech has reached the point that once a model has been trained on someone’s voice, it can generate convincing-sounding speech from any text input.
Services already exist like this for small-time podcasters to train AI models of their own voice. “Save countless hours by allowing Revoice to handle your repetitive tasks. From podcast intros to ad segments, voiceovers, to entire episodes, you can generate whatever you need in your natural voice just by writing a script and letting our AI do the rest,” one pitch reads.
Isn’t the point of podcast to make and enjoy human connections? How much of that is possible when the content is AI-generated? Sure, it starts with ‘personalized ads,’ but it will never stop at advertising.