Spotify rolls out new AI DJ feature that attemps to brings back the disc jockey

Written By Kylie Thomas, Co-Features/A&E Editor

Growing up, I loved listening to the radio in the car when the disc jockeys would host hourly shows. It was fun to hear someone talk about the music they were playing or the news of the world in between every few songs. As streaming has become popular, I’ve found myself missing that aspect of my childhood. But, recently, Spotify has attempted to bring this nostalgic feature to streaming with their new AI DJ.

The AI DJ is a beta rollout from Spotify as a part of its new update. This new update created a stir since it completely changed the face of the homepage. Now the homepage is filled with Instagram story-like content that users can click through. It’s a change from the endless playlists and options that users could scroll through before. I think that’s why Spotify hoped this new DJ feature would win people back.

The new AI DJ part of the update creates a mix of songs based on the subscriber’s listening history. The mix includes songs that the listener knows as well as new discoveries. Every few songs (usually four) the DJ, named X, will come on to talk about what he will play next. Listeners can access the DJ early too to switch up the vibe by clicking the blue DJ button.

What the DJ actually says is fairly limited so far. He basically just tells listeners what he’s taking inspiration from (like a listener’s recent playlist listening or throwbacks to old favorites) for the next set of songs and the name of the first artist in the mix.

I keep clicking to bring the DJ back just to see if I can get anything more interesting than the band name and a classic DJ catchphrase. Though it just repeats the same topics. I will say it eventually plays music that your friends listen to which is a really cool feature, even if it doesn’t tell you which friend the song is from.

I wouldn’t exactly praise Spotify for the DJ itself. Rather, I’d praise Spotify for the mix that the feature puts together. It’s the perfect blend of recent listens, throwbacks, new songs, and everything in between. The playlist isn’t exhaustive (from what I’ve discovered) and can be listened to for a long time without boredom or repetitiveness (a new venture for Spotify).

Actually, I think the downside to the new feature is the DJ himself (itself? Is AI sentient?). The DJ doesn’t add much to the experience and almost mocks disc jockeys who have lost their jobs thanks to streaming services like Spotify. It’s a good concept, just not fully executed. If a brand is going as far to incorporate AI into a program, it would be worth their time to make that AI more personal and interactive. Spotify already has a plethora of information about bands and their songs on the app so it could just include that information into the DJ talks and it would add a whole new level.

I’m not saying that Spotify completely failed here, in fact I have a lot of friends who really like the future. But as someone who grew up listening to the radio, it doesn’t live up to my expectations. I think Spotify has a long way to go before they will ever get close to recreating the disc jockey.