Spotify buys an AI startup that turns text into 'realistic' speech

Sonantic's tech could share recommendations when you aren't looking.

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TURKEY - 2021/12/02: In this photo illustration the Spotify logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen near a pair of earphones. (Photo Illustration by Onur Dogman/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Onur Dogman/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Spotify's string of recent acquisitions now includes a potentially huge text-to-speech upgrade. The streaming music service is acquiring Sonantic, a startup that uses AI to produce "stunningly realistic" voices from text. While Spotify didn't divulge its exact plans for the purchase, it teased multiple potential improvements.

Sonantic's tech could provide context for upcoming recommendations even when you aren't looking at your screen, Spotify said. The AI voice platform could also "reduce barriers" for new audio experiences. We'd add that this could help with accessibility. You might have an easier time navigating Spotify without relying on the visual interface.

Spotify didn't say when it expected the deal to close. The move makes sense in light of broader trends, however. Social networks like Instagram and TikTok already use text-to-speech for robotic voiceovers. Meld this with Spotify's TikTok-style discovery feed and the company may have a better chance of reeling in listeners used to finding their tunes on social networks.

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