Why did Spotify introduce AI DJ?
What do Spotify’s biggest hits, “Wrapped” and “Discover Weekly”, have in common? They’re both personalized to the core.
Having realized that listeners enjoy the seemingly individual approach and the feeling like their Spotify algorithms can predict exactly what they need at any given moment – the Swedish company decided to take personalization to a whole new level and introduced Spotify DJ.
What does this mean, exactly?
For this purpose, Spotify joined forces with OpenAI to develop a unique, friendly voice of a radio host who will speak directly to the user, presenting the next song based on the listener’s habits.
It will sound something like this:
“Morning Sylvia, I know that last week you enjoyed contemporary RnB tunes so let me introduce you to this new artist who I think you’re gonna love… Next up, get ready to go back into August 2022 when you listened to this jam almost every day,” and so on.
From a customer perspective, it seems that this new feature is going to be incredibly amusing but at the same time it’s unrealistic to expect users to turn to Spotify DJ completely.
As it turns out, users enjoy listening to music uninterrupted, meaning without ads or any other generic voices getting in the way of the songs. Even if it’s personalized, the fact that someone is intruding on your listening experience when you didn’t expect it, can already sound a bit annoying.
In the end, the younger audience isn’t a huge fan of the radio for that exact reason – because their listening habits are different from what we’ve known so far. They want complete freedom in what they’re listening to and for how long.
However, even if they didn’t grow up listening to the radio, maybe it’s not too late to introduce this kind of intimate listening experience, which was popular for many decades for a reason.
As you can see, there are many contradictory arguments but one thing is certain – this will be an interesting social experiment whose outcomes we cannot fully predict. We’ll either be pleasantly surprised or will continue with our lives as if nothing happened.
How does Spotify DJ work?
In a way, this new feature represents a personalized AI guide through the endless world of music. Now more than ever, new songs are being released and it seems that the music career has replaced what once was a YouTube career.
With so many releases, it’s difficult if not impossible to navigate and discover artists that you’ll love. Moreover, every now and then, algorithms on streaming platforms recommend songs that you would never listen to.
All of this has led to the need for music editors, possibly someone who’d know exactly what to play to you at that exact moment. And on that idea, Spotify DJ was born.
But there’s one paradox – traditional Radio DJs recommend music based on their knowledge and expertise, whereas Spotify DJ gives recommendations based on user preferences.
We’ve already seen the astonishing capacity of artificial intelligence in every sphere of our lives, so it was only natural for it to expand in the area that takes a lot of our time – listening to music.
What’s unique about Spotify DJ is the realistic commentary that we’ve never seen before on streaming platforms. If everything goes well, this could possibly become a new industry standard that all major streaming platforms will have to introduce sooner or after.
But how does it know what to play to the exact user?
Basically, it dives into the songs you’ve played over the years and the ones you’ve liked or saved to your playlists.
It will then review what you might enjoy and deliver a stream of songs picked just for you. And what’s more, it constantly refreshes the lineup based on your feedback. If you’re not feeling the vibe, just tap the DJ button and it will switch it up. The more you listen and tell the DJ what you like (and don’t like!), the better its recommendations get.
Other than Spotify personalization technology, this new feature couldn’t be possible without the Generative AI provided by OpenAI (yes, the same company that launched ChatGPT).
This allows for the commentary to sound convenient and to provide you with insightful facts about the music, artists, or genres you’re listening to.
Moreover, it allowed for music knowledge of Spotify music editors to be scaled in a way that’s never been done before.
Bad news first – for now, it’s only available in the US and Canada but, if you’re creative enough and use VPN, you may find your way through.
The good news is that it’s really simple to turn on (if you have access, that is). Go to your Spotify App on iOS or Android, and tap ‘Music’ on your Home page. The DJ card will appear right away and, if you don’t like what’s playing at the moment, just tap the DJ button again to switch to something else.
Now, it’s important to point out that Spotify DJ didn’t come out of anywhere. It was preceded by the acquisition of Sonantic, an AI Voice Platform, in June 2022, with the intent to create new audio experiences for their users.
And to close the circle, Spotify opted for the host of their first podcast ever, Xavier “X” Jernigan, (who’s also Spotify’s Head of cultural partnerships) to be the ultimate Spotify DJ voice model.
It’ll be fun to watch how Spotify will handle this feature in different languages and how long the audience in international areas will have to wait to enjoy an AI-powered DJ.
Understandably, it will only be available to Spotify Premium subscribers.