In February 2023, Spotify announced the launch of its new AI feature, called the “DJ,” which provides personalized music selections and spoken commentary to the users. Similar to a radio DJ, this feature aims to offer a curated selection of songs, delivered alongside AI-powered spoken commentary about the tracks and artists you like. The DJ feature is the company’s attempt to get to know users so well that the DJ can choose what to play for them when they hit the button. Spotify aims to become a “lean-back,” passive experience, especially for those who don’t want to spend time looking for a particular playlist.
For years, Spotify has been leading the market with its personalization technology, starting with the launch of its flagship playlist, Discover Weekly, back in 2015. This success was followed by several other playlists designed to cater to the end user’s unique preferences. With the wider technology market now focused on new ways to leverage AI advances, it was only a matter of time before Spotify rolled out its take on how modern AI could be used to improve its personalization experience.
The DJ feature is a combination of Spotify’s existing personalization technology, an AI voice from its 2022 Sonantic acquisition, and Generative AI through the use of OpenAI technology. The company provided its music editors, experts, scriptwriters, and data curators with access to OpenAI’s Generative AI tech to scale their insights about music, artists, and genres. The technology is being put to use to create “culturally relevant, accurate pieces of commentary at scale.” Accuracy is a key word here, given Bing and Google’s recent AI failures. Time will tell if Spotify’s use case faces similar struggles.
As listeners engage with the new DJ feature, they’ll be presented with a personalized stream of songs that will include both newer tracks and old favorites. This stream will be continually refreshed. As they listen, they’ll also hear commentary directly followed by the song it’s referring to. The more the feature is used, the more accurate its suggestions will become – similar to how song skips or liking a track would otherwise inform an algorithm of your interests.
The DJ’s voice is based on Spotify’s Head of Cultural Partnerships Xavier “X” Jernigan, who had hosted Spotify’s morning show podcast, “The Get Up.” The company notes his voice is the “first model” for the DJ feature – suggesting it has plans to expand the range of voices in the future.
To access the DJ, users can head to the Music Feed on the Home page of Spotify’s iOS or Android app and then tap Play on the DJ card to begin. The DJ will then begin to play a lineup of music and short commentary.
The DJ feature has the potential to turn Spotify into a more passive experience for users, providing them with personalized music choices and commentary without requiring any further input. However, it remains to be seen how accurate and effective the AI-powered DJ will be in meeting the needs and preferences of Spotify users.
Spotify has been leading the personalization technology market for years, and the DJ feature is a significant addition to its existing product offerings. The company’s focus on AI advancements, including its partnership with OpenAI, suggests that it is committed to improving the personalization experience for its users further.
Overall, the DJ feature has significant potential to enhance the listening experience for Spotify users, providing them with personalized music choices and spoken commentary that reflect their preferences and interests. It is likely to be an essential feature for users who want to enjoy music without having to spend time and effort on selecting playlists manually. As AI technology continues to develop, it will be interesting to see how Spotify’s personalization technology evolves and adapts to meet the changing needs.