We Tried Spotify’s New DJ Feature, an AI-Crafted Radio Station with Commentary

It's essentially your favorites in a playlist with a chatty AI-generated disc jockey

Spotify logo displayed on a phone screen and headphones are seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on July 12, 2022. Spotify is testing out a new AI DJ feature.
Your playlists, now with more human-sounding, AI-generated voices
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Spotify is revamping its app and debuting a number of new features over the next few weeks, but the most interesting new addition might be an AI-generated playlist called DJ.

Per TechCrunch, DJ (available if you click “Music” on the home screen) offers a curated selection of music alongside AI-powered spoken commentary about those tunes. While the streaming service has offered algorithm-created playlists since 2015 — when Discover Weekly appeared — and a ton of personalized playlists, this is the first approach that utilizes a more radio-like approach…albeit with a human-sounding AI providing the musical context.

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Spotify told TechCrunch it provided its music editors, experts, scriptwriters and data curators with access to OpenAI’s Generative AI tech to build the new feature, with the tech being used to create “culturally relevant, accurate pieces of commentary at scale.” The DJ’s voice is based on Spotify’s Head of Cultural Partnerships Xavier “X” Jernigan, who previously hosted Spotify’s morning show podcast, “The Get Up.”

“[DJ] will sort through the latest music and look back at some of your old favorites — maybe even resurfacing that song you haven’t listened to for years,” Spotify’s blog explains. “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. Think of it as the very best of Spotify’s personalization — but as an AI DJ in your pocket.”

So how is it? On launch, I got a very human-sounding and eager AI voice: “Hey, what’s going on? My name is Xavier, my friends call me X. I know what you listen to, I see Spanish Love Songs there…I’m gonna come back every few songs to change the vibe.” (Editor’s note: Spanish Love Songs is an excellent modern-day emo band, not any predilection for romantic ballads en español.) After a few like-minded cuts from bands such as Citizen, The Hotelier, etc., I didn’t notice much difference between this and the Spotify-created “Daily Mix” playlists. Then I got a brief X admission that he (it?) was “gonna switch it up a bit” and play something I’d been listening to more recently, so I heard a song by White Reaper; then I hit the DJ icon on my phone’s bottom right and got another voice prompt that we’d be “switching-up to things you listened to in 2019.” (Basically, hitting that icon seems to tell X to alter what you’re hearing.)

That’s not the only refresh Spotify has in order: A vertically-swiped, TikTok-like home page is coming, and the company is also testing token-enabled playlists, allowing holders of non-fungible tokens (NFT) to connect their wallets and listen to curated music. More changes are expected to be announced on March 8 at the company’s “Stream On” event.

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