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Spotify launches AI DJ for personalised playlists with virtual hosts

Everyone wants their go with the aux, and Spotify is no different. The ubiquitous music streamer has created an AI DJ feature capable of curating original playlists while providing intermittent commentary like a radio host.

Let’s face it, AI is inevitably coming for all of our livelihoods – commercial or creative. Not even DJs are safe.

The central story with AI at the moment is understandably Microsoft vs Alphabet, and who can be first to successfully integrate chatbot tech into their search engine without catching flack for misinformation or bugs.

If you’re less bothered with the business side and more interested in AI’s recreational day-to-day uses, however, this story will likely come as a welcome change.

Building on existing personalisation options, Spotify has just announced an extensive new feature called ‘DJ’.

Its launch trailer suggests the AI will compile original playlists each day based on our listening habits. Meanwhile, an eerily human-sounding radio presenter provides bits of trivia about the artist or project every few songs or so. Who really started the Eminem MGK beef?

Each original set list (if you will) is endless, but users can switch up genres or artists by hitting the on-screen DJ button. The AI will then work its magic to keep listening sessions running smoothly while honing its algorithm based on your feedback.

Pairing new tracks you may not have heard with your previously overplayed bangers, Spotify states it should rapidly get to grips with our specific tastes to fit each mood. Good luck seamlessly switching between Dave, My Chemical Romance, and Radiohead… I can be very changeable.

In terms of the real novelty here, our synthesised radio presenters are to be powered by technology from Sonantic AI, a start-up the company acquired just last year.

Instead of leaving an automated voice to randomly spam opening lines from Wikipedia, a specialist team of ‘music experts, culture experts, data curators, and scriptwriters’ trained machine learning systems to sound legit and pick interesting information.

As you’d expect, generative AI has a sizable part to play and OpenAI has reportedly been involved in development – likely meaning ChatGPT will play some role to form dialogue in real time.

Based on early talk of the model, it seems there will be some stock phrases used to hit on key trivia points, but that human-touch will shine through with original ad-libs on occasion.

Whether or not these cookie-cutter chat moments will be humorous for the right or wrong reasons, we’ll find out soon enough.

In the bigger picture of Spotify’s natural progression, it’s surely banking on the feature being a long term success. A large financial outlay, expert resources, and lengthy development time have been devoted to build the thing from the ground up.

When it comes to our favourite apps, more isn’t always better, however. The platform’s constant attempts to diversify its offering has left many subscribers feeling Spotify is already somewhat cluttered, though the curation features remain largely popular among younger users.

Given radio largely migrated into streaming for Gen Z listeners, if this halfway house proves a successful formula, who’s to say where the future of music consumption really lies?


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