Spotify has unveiled a new AI-powered DJ feature that offers a personalized radio listening experience. The company describes it as an “AI DJ in your pocket” that curates and commentates on a constantly changing customized playlist, mimicking a radio station presenter by dropping in little bits of trivia and commentary about the artist or track while smoothly transitioning between songs. The playlist is endless, but users can switch genres or artists by hitting the on-screen DJ button. Based on this feedback, the feature should improve on what tunes it recommends to you, scanning fresh releases to suggest new artists you might like or taking you back to older tracks you previously enjoyed.
The DJ’s artificial voice is powered by voice tech from Sonantic AI, a startup that Spotify purchased last year. The actual words the DJ is saying are created from a mix of sources, including a writer’s room filled with “music experts, culture experts, data curators, scriptwriters” and generative AI technology provided by OpenAI. 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.
The DJ beta is rolling out today, although it’s only currently available in English for Spotify Premium subscribers in the US and Canada. If you meet those requirements, then you can find the new AI-powered feature by heading into your Music Feed on the homepage of the Spotify mobile app. From there, you should be able to tap “Play” on the DJ card to try the feature for yourself.
The AI DJ feature marks Spotify’s return to radio, which many listeners have avoided in favor of streaming. It’s essentially a halfway house between a radio station you have no control over and a playlist you’ve meticulously curated. However, some critics have raised concerns that Spotify’s attempts to diversify the platform have already left it feeling cluttered, and it remains to be seen whether an AI DJ can cut through the noise.
One of the most impressive aspects of the feature is the quality of the artificial voice. In a launch trailer and clips shared on social media, the synthetic DJ sounds just as smooth as a real presenter. Spotify says that the first model for DJ is based on the vocals of Xavier “X” Jernigan, who previously worked as an exec at Spotify before taking on hosting roles for the company’s podcast The Get Up. However, Spotify suggests that there will be more virtual hosts to select from in the future, and users may be able to choose different styles of presenting, from upbeat to relaxed and so on.
While the concept of an AI DJ is not entirely new, Spotify’s take on the idea appears to be a more sophisticated and personalized version. The feature is part of Spotify’s broader push to develop its AI capabilities to provide a more customized listening experience. The company has been investing heavily in AI and machine learning, including acquisitions of startups like Sonantic AI, to further develop its capabilities in this area.
The use of AI in music has been growing in popularity in recent years, with other music services like Pandora and Apple Music also using AI to personalize recommendations for users. However, Spotify’s new feature takes this a step further, providing not only personalized recommendations but also a personalized commentary on the music being played. While it remains to be seen how well the feature will perform, it’s clear that Spotify is continuing to innovate in the music streaming space and push the boundaries of what’s possible with AI-powered technology.