Spotify DJ is here – here’s what to expect

Spotify’s contentious new feature, Spotify DJ, is now available to paid users in the UK and Ireland. Developed in collaboration with Sonantic, a voice technology company, and OpenAI, Spotify DJ aims to provide a more personalised listening experience. While AI has long powered Spotify’s recommendation algorithms, this feature takes it a step further.

In a recent article, Resident Advisor explores the new feature in depth. According to RA, Spotify DJ combines generative AI and dynamic voice technology. Generative AI generates content, such as images or text, while Sonantic’s text-to-speech tool delivers the generated information in a natural-sounding voice. In this case, Spotify’s “DJ” is the voice of one of their staff members, Xavier Jernigan.

In practice, Spotify DJ recommends songs based on the user’s current listening preferences, which is not entirely new for the platform. However, the novelty lies in the added commentary. This can range from contextual information to announcing the next song. In this sense, the term “DJ” here is more akin to a radio host, as no actual mixing of music happens. 

Opinions on this new feature vary. Some listeners appreciate the additional information, which adds depth to the listening experience and could potentially influence fandom over time. Others find the commentary distracting and prefer a seamless journey without interruptions. Some users expressed a preference for a feature that blends tracks together instead of a voice-led adaptation of Spotify’s existing algorithms.

While many recent AI innovations have targeted creators, Spotify stands out as the first major digital service provider to launch a consumer-facing AI tool. This development is significant because Spotify has a head start and possesses a vast amount of data for training intelligent models.

Although AI has the potential to revolutionise music creation, with voice models like Sonantic or Holly+ offering creative solutions for producers and podcasters, the majority of AI investments in the music industry have focused on promotional tools rather than audio creation. Artists are more interested in AI as a marketing tool to streamline promotion and allocate more time to making music.

The demand for AI as a consumer discovery tool in music remains uncertain. As these tools evolve, their most promising applications may emerge when combined with human tastemakers, such as DJs. Rather than viewing AI and creators as direct competitors, it is important to recognise that both have unique roles and can coexist in the music ecosystem.