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24 May 2023

Delving into Spotify's Cutting-Edge AI-Powered DJ Feature

by | News, AI & Tech


Spotify, the popular music streaming platform, has unveiled its latest feature, Spotify DJ, which harnesses the power of AI to provide a more personalized listening experience. Available to paid users in the UK and Ireland, this feature is a collaboration between Spotify, voice technology company Sonantic, and AI research lab OpenAI. While AI has long been instrumental in Spotify's recommendation algorithms, Spotify DJ takes it a step further.

Combining generative AI with dynamic voice technology, Spotify DJ generates content using AI and delivers it through a human-sounding voice using Sonantic's text-to-speech tool. The voice behind Spotify DJ is that of staffer Xavier "X" Jernigan. Essentially, Spotify DJ recommends songs based on the user's current listening preferences, much like Spotify's existing recommendations. However, the new aspect is the commentary that accompanies the recommendations, providing contextual information and even introducing the next song.

Although Spotify DJ attempts to create a DJ-like experience, it falls short for some listeners. DJ Ashley Hefnawy, also known as Myyuh, emphasizes that the joy of DJ sets lies in the seamless journey and mixing, which Spotify DJ lacks. For passive listeners, the commentary may be distracting and not a desired addition to their listening experience. Lenny Skolnik, a music researcher and artist known as Yung Spielberg, appreciates the contextual information but finds the voice itself distracting.

The introduction of Spotify DJ opens up a new frontier for AI in music streaming platforms. While most recent AI innovations have targeted creators rather than consumers, Spotify becomes the first major DSP (Digital Service Provider) to launch a consumer-facing AI tool. This move gives Spotify a significant advantage, considering the vast amount of data it possesses to train intelligent models. Forbes has recognized Spotify as the market leader among DSPs.

The potential of AI in music creation is substantial, especially with voice models like Sonantic or Holly+ that offer creative solutions for producers and podcasters. However, research by Water & Music indicates that only a small portion of AI-related funding has been allocated to music-related tools. Artists have shown more interest in AI for promotional purposes rather than audio creation. Skolnik suggests that visual assets created by AI, such as graphics or videos, can aid artists in reducing time spent on promotion, allowing them to focus more on making music.

The demand for AI as a consumer discovery tool in the music industry remains uncertain. While AI tools continue to advance, their most valuable applications might arise from working hand in hand with human tastemakers, such as DJs. Instead of viewing AI as direct competition, Hefnawy encourages embracing the idea that it should complement and enhance the creative process rather than replace it.

As Spotify DJ introduces a new dimension to the streaming experience, it showcases the potential of AI in delivering personalized content. By blending AI technology with the expertise of human curators, music platforms can truly transform the way listeners discover and enjoy music.