Spotify has launched a new AI feature called “DJ” ahead of its upcoming Stream On event, where the company is expected to announce a redesigned home feed and other updates.
The feature aims to personalize the music listening experience for its users by delivering a curated selection of music with AI-powered spoken commentary about the tracks and artists using a realistic voice. The goal is for Spotify to get to know users so well that the DJ can choose what to play for them when they hit the button. This has the potential to turn Spotify into a lean-back, passive experience for those times users don’t feel like dictating what to stream next or fumbling around with the interface to find a playlist they like.
The OpenAI-powered feature is in beta testing and is only available in English for Spotify Premium subscribers in the US and Canada. Spotify has been a leader in personalization technology, launching flagship playlist Discover Weekly back in 2015 and followed by other playlists designed to cater to the end user’s unique preferences. With the wider technology market focusing on new ways to leverage AI advances, Spotify’s own take on modern AI is expected to improve its personalization experience.
According to the company, the new DJ feature is a combination of Spotify’s existing personalization technology, an AI voice obtained through its Sonantic acquisition in 2022, and OpenAI’s Generative AI. Although Spotify has a business relationship with OpenAI, it did not refer to the company as a partner. Instead, Spotify 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 goal is to create culturally relevant and accurate commentary at scale. However, the accuracy of the commentary remains to be seen, given recent AI failures by Bing and Google. As users engage with the DJ feature, they’ll receive a personalized stream of songs that includes new and old favorites. The stream will be continuously refreshed, and the commentary will follow directly after the song it refers to. If the DJ plays a song the user does not like, they can tap the DJ button again to shift to a different genre, artist, or mood. The feature will become more accurate with use, similar to how song skips or liking a track informs an algorithm of a user’s interests.
The newly launched DJ feature from Spotify combines the company’s existing personalization technology, an AI voice from its 2022 Sonantic acquisition, and OpenAI technology. Rather than referring to OpenAI as a partner, Spotify provided its music editors, experts, scriptwriters, and data curators access to OpenAI’s Generative AI tech to create culturally relevant, accurate commentary on music, artists, and genres. The DJ feature presents a personalized stream of songs, including newer tracks and old favorites, along with commentary directly followed by the song it’s referring to. Users can tap the DJ button to shift to a different genre, artist, or mood, and the feature becomes more accurate with use.
Xavier “X” Jernigan, Spotify’s Head of Cultural Partnerships, served as the model for the DJ’s voice, with plans to expand the range of voices in the future. Users can access the DJ feature by tapping the Play button on the DJ card in the Music Feed on the Home page of Spotify’s iOS or Android app. In brief tests, the DJ’s voice sounded authentic and inserted personalized content, but the music selection was not initially more remarkable than one of Spotify’s personalized playlists. The DJ feature appears as a green circle on a blue background and relocates to the bottom-right of the Now Playing interface during music playback. The DJ feature will begin rolling out today in Spotify’s supported markets.