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Spotify Acquires AI Voice Platform Sonantic

The company is responsible for the AI-generated voice for Val Kilmer’s character Ice in Top Gun Maverick.

Spotify continues its spending spree with its new acquisition, Sonantic, a dynamic voice platform. Sonantic says its AI voices “deliver compelling, lifelike performances with fully expressive AI-generated voices.” Terms of the deal have not been disclosed but, according to Techcrunch, to date, Sonantic has raised less than $3 million in funding, attracting investors like EQT Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Kevin Lin of Twitch and Jeremy Jap.

If it is hard to imagine how AI-generated voices could be used in a real-world application outside of gaming, think of Top Gun: Maverick, this summer’s first box office sensation. The film briefly features Val Kilmer, reprising his role as Iceman. After battling throat cancer, Kilmer now speaks through a voice box. Sonantic was able to recreate his voice in the movie using their technology, reports Tubefilter.

Sonantic shares how they were able to do that in this YouTube video.

Sonantic used past recordings of Kilmer’s voice and combined it with his son’s voice using their proprietary technology to create Iceman’s voice in Top Gun: Maverick. According to Looper, Kilmer was impressed with the results.

“[Sonantic] masterfully restored my voice in a way I’ve never imagined possible,” Kilmer commented.

“As a leader in all things audio, Spotify is always searching for new ways to create unique experiences that our users will love. So today we’re excited to share our intention to acquire Sonantic, a dynamic AI voice platform that creates compelling, nuanced, and stunningly realistic voices from text,” said Spotify in a June 13, 2022 blog post.

Spotify’s vice president of personalization, Ziad Sultan, commented on the acquisition.

“We’re really excited about the potential to bring Sonantic’s AI voice technology onto the Spotify platform and create new experiences for our users. This integration will enable us to engage users in a new and even more personalized way,” said Sultan.

In a joint statement, Sonantic co-founders Zeena Qureshi and John Flynn said, “We’re looking forward to joining Spotify and continuing to build exciting voice experiences. We believe in the power voice has and its ability to foster a deeper connection with listeners around the world, and we know we can be better than ever on the world’s largest audio platform.”

One possible use for the technology, Spotify said in their blog post, is to provide listeners with context about Spotify recommendations when the listeners aren’t looking at their screens.

“Using voice in these moments can reduce barriers to creating new audio experiences – and open up the doors to even more new opportunities,” Spotify said.

Other acquisitions

Earlier this year, Spotify announced their planned acquisitions of Podsights and Chartable. Spotify believes these two podcast technology companies will help them continue to modernize podcast advertising. Podcasts, a podcasting measurement service, helps advertisers measure and scale their podcast advertising. Chartable, a podcast analytics platform, helps publishers understand and grow their podcast audiences through metrics and insights.

In related news, yesterday, Spotify announced they had closed the acquisition of Findaway, a digital audiobook distribution platform.

“We believe that audiobooks, in their many different forms, will be a massive opportunity,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek at 2022 Investor Day last week.

Insider Take

Spotify remains in investment mode and intends to remain the leader in the audio world, whether it be music, audiobooks, podcasting or as a creator platform. They are putting their eggs in many baskets, and quickly acquiring partners to further their expansion. Though the company has not disclosed the price tag of their acquisitions, it will be interesting to see how soon the company will see a return on their investment.

Source: Spotify

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