Spotify is an audio streaming and media services provider. While it's considered amongst the largest of its kind, it's kind of shy in adopting new technologies.
That until OpenAI announced ChatGPT that made it think. Before, the AI sphere was quite dull. But after ChatGPT hit the market, everyone started scrambling. And Spotify is yet another company that jumps on the bandwagon.
Using OpenAI’s generative AI technology, the streaming service announces what it calls the 'DJ'.
By pairing the large language model with Sonantic technology's generative voice model it acquired back in 2022, Spotify made it all work on top of its existing abilities in personalizatio.
And here, DJ can sift through all of its songs, in order for it to understand music, and ensures that it can then help users with what they want.
Unlike ChatGPT, which is trying to create answers by learning information found on the wider web, Spotify uses the technology for a much more limited database, which is its own library of songs, its own in-house music experts’ knowledge base and also insights.
The goal is that, the AI DJ can curate a personalized selection of music, combined with spoken commentary delivered in a realistic-sounding, AI-generated voice.
During the Stream On event earlier this March 2023, which highlighted Spotify's mobile app's revamp, that focuses on TikTok-style discovery feed for music, podcasts, and audiobooks, the AI DJ is getting a more special presentation.
This is because Spotify is seeing positive consumer reaction to the feature, after launching DJ ahead of the company's Stream On event in Los Angeles.
Here, DJ is becoming a prominent part of the streaming service’s enhanced experience.
With the Spotify app’s revamp, DJ should appear at the top of the screen under the Music subfeed for subscribers, serving both as a way for users to stream favorite music, and as a means for Spotify to entice free users to upgrade.
Initially introduced in late February to Spotify’s Premium subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, DJ is designed to get to know users so well that it could play whatever they want to hear with a press of a button.
DJ can suggest music based on its existing understanding of a user’s tastes and interests.
"We are constantly publishing papers," said Spotify’s head of Personalization, Ziad Sultan.
"We will be investing in the latest technologies — as you can imagine, in this industry, LLMs are such technology. So we will be developing the expertise."
This AI tool doesn't have to be limited to a single feature, Spotify believes, which is why the company is experimenting with other applications of the technology as well.
"We haven’t announced the exact plans of when we might expand to new markets, new languages, etc. But it’s a technology that is a platform. We can do it and we hope to share more as it evolves," added Sultan.
Spotify has a bit of experience with AI, but it didn't want to develop its own full-suite AI product because it wasn't sure about what users would respond to the product's existence.
Spotify is all about listening to music, and the discovery of new songs, why would users want an AI DJ?
Would people want an that kind of feature? Would they engage with the feature? None of that was clear. After all, Spotify’s voice assistant ("Hey Spotify") had tractions issues and was never popular.
But OpenAI's technology is a different beast, to say the least, and initially, users are loving this DJ.
"People are spending hours per day with this product […] it helps them with choices, with discovery, it narrates to them the next music they should listen to, and explains to them why […] so the reaction — if you check various social media, you will see it’s very positive, it’s emotional," explained Sultan.
Spotify also said that on the days users tuned in, they spent 25% of their time listening music with DJ, and more than half of the first-time listeners return to use the feature the very next day.
While the metrics may vary, sooner or later, considering that OpenAI is the hype of AI, and Spotify is simply piggybacking the hype, the numbers initially showed positive usage.
"I think it is one amazing step in building a relationship between really valuable products and users,” Sultan said, saying that the challenge ahead would be to "find the right application and then to build it correctly."