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Spotify launches “DJ,” a personalized music feature with AI commentary

Today, Spotify launched “DJ,” an AI feature that personalizes music listening, ahead of its Stream On event, where it is expected to unveil a new home feed and other updates. Spotify’s DJ feature will play a curated playlist with AI-powered commentary about your favorite songs and artists in a “stunningly realistic voice.”

According to Spotify, the DJ should know you well enough to choose what to play when you press the button. Spotify calls it “AI DJ in your pocket.”

For times when users don’t want to tell Spotify what to stream or fiddle with its interface to find a playlist, the feature could make Spotify a passive experience.

The OpenAI-powered feature is currently only available in English for Spotify Premium subscribers in the U.S. and Canada.

Spotify launched Discover Weekly in 2015 to success with its personalization technology. Release Radar, Daily Mixes, Your Time Capsule, Blend, and playlists for specific activities like commuting or working out followed. Spotify Wrapped, a personalized annual review, has become a trend in recent years. Competitors have copied it.

Spotify’s use of modern AI to improve its personalization experience was inevitable given the wider tech industry’s focus on AI.

The company says its new DJ feature uses its personalization technology, an AI voice from its 2022 Sonantic acquisition, and OpenAI Generative AI. Spotify says it works with OpenAI, but not as a partner.

Instead, Spotify gave its music editors, experts, scriptwriters, and data curators OpenAI’s Generative AI tech to scale their insights about music, artists, and genres. The company says the technology creates “culturally relevant, accurate pieces of commentary at scale.” Given Bing and Google’s AI failures, accuracy may be key. We’ll see if Spotify’s use case struggles.

The new DJ feature will give listeners a personalized stream of new and old songs. We understand this stream will refresh. Listeners will hear commentary followed by the song.

AI may say:

Polo G collaborates with Future for his first release of the year this week. This is the pair’s first collaboration, but Southside, who has worked with both, produced most of Polo’s upcoming project.

The user can tap the DJ button again to change genres, artists, or moods if the DJ misses. Like song skips or likes, using the feature will improve its suggestions.

Xavier “X” Jernigan, Spotify’s Head of Cultural Partnerships, hosted “The Get Up,” which inspired the DJ’s voice. His voice is the “first model” for the DJ feature, suggesting the company will add more voices.

Visit Spotify’s iOS or Android app’s Music Feed on the Home page and tap Play on the DJ card to start. The DJ will then play music and short commentary.

In brief tests before launch, the voice sounded authentic even as it inserted personalized content like band names. Its music selection didn’t stand out compared to Spotify’s personalized playlists. DJ should improve eventually.

After a few suggestions, the DJ played songs you streamed last year. We were surprised to find these flashbacks separated from the newer songs. After tapping through the recommendations again, the DJ switched genres. Summer flashbacks returned. Like switching playlists.

As you play the music, the DJ moves from a green circle on a blue background to the bottom-right of the Now Playing interface, which otherwise looks the same—it plays looping visuals if available, offers player controls, and provides access to the heart button and lyrics, as before.

We haven’t tested the feature enough to recommend its use or determine how well the DJ improves its suggestions over time.

Spotify is marketing the feature as an AI-powered addition to attract customers as ChatGPT and Google’s Bard raise awareness of AI’s promise and risks.

The feature comes amid growing criticism that Spotify’s investments in other audio formats have made its app cluttered and harder to use for streaming music. The streamer’s shares rose last month after reporting 10 million new subscribers and 22 million more ad-supported users in Q4.

Spotify’s early advances in personalization technology are now seemingly table stakes for any music service, so it’s clear it wanted to raise the bar by doing something new with AI that’s not as easily reproducible.

The company said the DJ feature will begin rolling out today in its supported markets.

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