Spotify’s newly granted patent could allow the company to monitor your speech to improve its music recommendations

Filed back in 2018, Spotify’ recently approved patent describes how the streaming company could monitor users’ speech and emotions to suggest personalized music.

Spotify’s patent titled Identification of Taste Attributes from an Audio Signal, was filed by Spotify in 2018 and approved on 12th January 2021. It explains how specific patterns in recordings of users’ speech and background noise could be collected and used to recommend certain music, podcasts and advertisements.

Currently Spotify’s personalised music recommendations are considered some of the most accurate in the industry. Algorithm driver playlists such as Daily Mixes, Discover Weekly and Release Radar use information such as gender, age and the kinds of artists you currently listen to, to recommend appropriate music.

What is needed is an entirely different approach to collecting taste attributes of a user, particularly one that is rooted in technology so that the above-described human activity (e.g., requiring a user to provide input) is at least partially eliminated and performed more efficiently.

Spotify Patent

The patent mentions how extracting intonation, stress and rhythm from a user’s speech could determine the emotional state, gender, age and accent of the user. Spotify would serve different kinds of music based on whether the user is identified as happy, angry, sad or neutral. Background noise picked up could be used to tell whether the user is alone or with a group of people, for example on public transport or at a party.

Many users are understandably concerned with companies such as social media platforms tracking them across apps and websites, as well as potentially gathering information from texts and calls to serve ads. While at first glance, this patent from Spotify should be alarming for all, firstly remember this is only a patent and not a confirmed new feature. Apple and Google have improved their privacy policies on iOS and Android in recent years to give users transparency on how apps are using their data, for example requiring apps ask permission before accessing tools such as your location, camera and microphone, as well as clearly indicating which apps have recently used these tools.

A spokesperson for Spotify said to Pitchfork:

Spotify has filed patent applications for hundreds of inventions, and we regularly file new applications. Some of these patents become part of future products, while others don’t. Our ambition is to create the best audio experience out there, but we don’t have any news to share at this time.

Spotify to Pitchfork

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