Spotify’s new feature is an AI-powered DJ that curates and comments on an ever-changing personalized playlist. Spotify describe like an “AI DJ in your pocket” who “knows you and your musical tastes so well, he can choose what to play for you”.
We’ll have to test the feature for ourselves to see how well these claims hold up, but in a launch trailer and clips shared on social media, the feature seems to mimic a radio station presenter quite closely, dropping little trivia and commentary about the artist or track while smoothly switching between songs.
The playlist is endless, but users can apparently change genre or artist by tapping the on-screen DJ button. Based on that feedback, the feature should improve the tracks it recommends for you – analyzing new releases to suggest new artists you might like, or bringing you back to older tracks you’ve enjoyed before.
There is only one voice option for the DJ function at the moment, but more are likely to be added
The DJ’s artificial voice is powered by voice technology from Sonantic AI, a startup Spotify bought last year. Spotify says the actual words the DJ says are created from a mix of sources, including a writer’s room filled with “music experts, culture experts, data curators (and) screenwriters” and the generative AI technology provided by OpenAI (this likely means the company’s language AI models, although Spotify didn’t specify).
When we asked how personalized this release was (is it unique for each user or are there certain patterns that the DJ uses over and over again?) Spotify didn’t give a clear answer. Emily Galloway, Product Design Manager for Personalization at Spotify, said The edge that while “the commentary around each artist is similar, the order in which users receive the commentary is unique and based on each user’s listening habits”.
Says Galloway: “(While the DJ launches into beta, we have a high element of human contact to ensure that feedback is accurate, culturally relevant and matches the personality of the DJ. We are working with very emerging technology, we we will certainly evolve this process over time.
Reading between the lines, it looks like the model has some stock phrases that it customizes based on upcoming music, but maybe can ad lib a bit in some predefined safe areas. (After all, as we’ve seen with ChatGPT and Bing, AI chatterboxes can go off the rails quickly.) You can listen to another example of the DJ’s cookie-cutter chatter in the tweet below, but we’ll have to wait to test this feature out more widely to see how personalized it really is or if it starts to repeat itself and get boring.
What sounds impressive is the artificial voice quality. In the clip above, the synthetic DJ sounds just as good as it did in Spotify’s launch trailer (a form of information that’s always best treated with suspicion). Only one voice is available at the moment, based on the voice of Xavier “X” Jernigan, who previously worked as an executive at Spotify before taking on hosting roles for the company podcast get up. However, Spotify says it’s the “first model for DJs”, suggesting there will be more virtual hosts to choose from in the future. It’s easy to imagine that users could select not only different voices, but also different presentation styles, ranging from upbeat to relaxed and so on.
The DJ beta is rolling out today, though it’s currently only available in English to Spotify Premium subscribers in the US and Canada. If you check these boxes, you can find the new AI-powered feature by heading to your music stream on the home page of the Spotify mobile app. From there, you should be able to simply press “Play” on the DJ card to try out the feature for yourself.
Spotify’s DJ is one of the most interesting apps we’ve seen among the recent set of AI-powered tools. In particular, because the service is returning to radio, which many switched to streaming avoid. If you ignore the fancy AI voice wrap, Spotify’s new DJ feature is essentially a halfway house between a radio station you have no control over and a playlist you’ve meticulously curated. Does adding a virtual DJ to this help? Who knows. Some say Spotify’s attempts to diversify the platform have already crowded it. Let’s see if an AI DJ can reduce the noise.