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Spotify’s AI DJ, A Wake-Up Call

by Evan Layefsky
March 19, 2023

Will Spotify's AI DJ Replace Us?

The AI renaissance is here. In a race to remain relevant, tech’s biggest players are quickly rolling out their new AI powered tools. It’s now possible to pump out quality digital images for free with OpenAI’s DALL-E2. Or write job cover letters and blog posts by adding a few directional bullet points and letting ChatGPT go to work. The advent and release of these new technologies inevitably warrants the same question, is this going to replace me? My job? My livelihood? For those of us in the events DJ industry, this uneasiness hit close to home in late February with the release of Spotify’s new AI powered DJ technology.

What is Spotify's AI DJ?

Spotify is known for its curated playlists and recommendation software, but DJ promises to bring personalization to the next level. It combines their beloved song suggestion algorithm with OpenAI’s generative technology, and adds in a dynamic AI host to guide you through the lineup. This last feature represents DJ’s true innovation, and was made possible by Spotify’s 2022 acquisition of the AI voice platform Sonantic. DJ’s voice is modeled after Xavier “X” Jernigan, head of cultural partnerships at Spotify. His voice, or rather this digital rendition of his voice, sounds crispy and lifelike. “I’m DJ X, your own personal AI DJ right in your pocket. I don’t set timers, I don’t switch off the lights, I’m all about the music. Here are a few songs that I know you’ll love, check it out!” After about 5 songs, DJ X comes back to announce the upcoming queue and offer some interesting quips and factoids about the music. It’s flashy and new at first, and the AI generated voice sounds real, but it's not long before the novelty wears off. 

After listening to Spotify’s DJ for a few hours, it’s clear that it’s little more than a personalized radio station. For a product designed to feel personal, its halting interjections that awaken you out of your musical trance, and its presumption to tell you what songs you’ll like, seem cold and impersonal. It does not bring any of the value that a DJ needs to run an engaging event. It can’t take cues from the audience to build a mood, encourage revelers to dance, or comfort clients and field questions. DJ X can’t announce a birthday or emcee toasts at a wedding. Event goers want a face, a human spinning tracks that they can interact with. And AI DJ does none of that. Suffice it to say, this AI generated simulacrum is not going to replace human DJs anytime soon.

Stay Engaged

However, with technology evolving at such a fast rate, the need to stay engaged and provide value to your audience is paramount. And that’s where RequestNow excels. RequestNow is a platform that allows your audience to request songs in real-time without interrupting your set. Guests text their song requests to a personalized phone number that automatically links to your song queue, allowing you to efficiently organize what your audience wants to hear. Not only does RequestNow allow you to connect in real time with the wants of your audience, it’s also a marketing tool to help grow your business. After your event, you can blast out a thank you with your socials, information about any upcoming shows, and also link to your Venmo to allow them to send you more tips. RequestNow is an efficiency tool that allows you to deliver a more personalized and enjoyable experience for your clients.

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