As you may know by now, Spotify has launched a new technological offering for its subscribers – an AI DJ.
The service was announced in February 2023 and was gradually rolled out to different markets from that point until it reached Aussie shores in early August 2023.
Spotify’s AI DJ is now available to Premium subscribers in 50 markets worldwide, promising a curated collection of music paired with AI voice narration based on vocals by Xavier ‘X’ Jernigan, Spotify’s Head of Cultural Partnerships.
In short, AI DJ is designed to bring you a dynamic – and completely ‘smart’ – music experience based on learning about your tastes. Here’s a quick video that walks you through the general vibe of it all.
Think of it as an extended take on ‘radio’ without giving you any notice. And with occasional commentary from Robot.
To better understand what Spotify AI DJ is and what it means for the future of the music aggregator, we chatted with Emily Galloway, Personalization Design Lead at Spotify. Here’s what she had to say about the latest update.
What is Spotify’s AI DJ?
She describes Spotify’s AI DJ (which is still rolling out in beta) as “a personalized AI guide that knows you and your taste in music so well that it can choose what to play for you”.
The service is able to do this “thanks to a powerful combination of three things: Spotify’s personalization technology, generative AI in the hands of the world’s best music curators, and dynamic AI voice,” she shared over email.
What can you expect from the experience?
When I first heard Spotify’s AI DJ, I was a bit confused by the mix of tunes thrown at me. The music seems to have no real connecting thread and some The tracks were genres I didn’t particularly enjoy.
Galloway explained that “DJ is an experience unlike any other on Spotify”.
“It’ll sort through the latest music, look back at some of your old favorites—maybe a song you haven’t heard since 2018 will resurface. It will then review what you like and deliver a stream of songs selected just for you,” she said.
And when you’re not happy with the songs the DJ is playing, this should improve as the AI learns what your preferences are.
“…the more you interact with a DJ, the more you learn what you like! So, if you’re not feeling upbeat, we’ve created a way to call the DJ back through the ‘DJ Button’, which gives users a chance to give feedback to the DJ. If you press it, you’ll be transported to a different genre, artist or mood.”
From personal experience, I can say that the accuracy of song recommendations made by AI DJ has improved over time, and it has been able to combine forgotten tunes I like and bring them back to the front of my mind. A beautiful feature.
Just remember that if you’re into a certain kind of listening experience, you have no say in it—it’s just a wild ride through your musical tastes.
How does the role of human editors at Spotify play a role here?
If you remember, we did a piece a while back that looked at the jobs of human music editors at Spotify. It’s a very organized gig where specialized music experts work to discover new talent as well as curate playlists for listeners (no, it’s not all done by algorithms).
Naturally, the implementation of AI DJs has us questioning where human music editors fit into the equation moving forward. The use of AI in any space previously dependent on human expertise is always questionable – especially now. Speaking on the matter, Galloway shared the following:
“At Spotify, we have a secret sauce that sets us apart: years of experience blending human curation and expertise with world-class algorithms.
“We’ve applied this recipe to DJs to create an exhilarating music listening experience that’s deeply personalized for each listener, yet unlike anything the world has ever seen.
“We have music experts from around the world and they introduce listeners to new music through some of our most popular playlists. When creating DJ, we wanted to share their musical knowledge with users through references and commentary. To do this, we created a writers’ room with music experts, culture experts, data curators, script writers — and then we gave them tools including generative AI — to create mass commentary,” she shared.
How that dynamic will change as AI advances, we can’t really say. But I watch this space.
Additionally, AI DJ’s voice has been developed using a text-to-speech system based on the voice of Xavier ‘X’ Jernigan, Spotify’s Head of Cultural Partnerships.
Galloway explained that “to train the voice model to sound like Xavier ‘X’ Jernigan, Spotify’s head of cultural partnerships, he spent time in the studio recording lines of the text so our audio engineers could capture his voice style. They were looking for subtle details like his inflection, intonation, where he would stop and where he would naturally breathe.”
The end result – hearing X speak through an AI DJ – is brought to you by Spotify’s “fully expressive AI technology”.
“Our main goal with DJ is to deepen the discovery and connection between artists and fans. In fact, we’ve found that by annotating with personalized music recommendations, listeners are more willing to try something new and listen to songs they might have skipped,” she added.
If you haven’t tried Spotify’s AI DJ yet, you can find it by opening the Spotify mobile app, then going to the music feed. home page and tapping DJ. Alternatively, you can find it in Made for you center within the find out tab