Spotify has just announced that it's Spotify DJ technology is coming to the UK and Ireland after countless requests. The feature sees an AI-derived DJ choose the music you listen to, interjecting with commentary in-between tracks.
The feature is already a hit in North America. According to Spotify's own figures, over half of users who use DJ one day come back to use it again the following day. It's also seen a somewhat surprising surge in popularity with younger users. Spotify suggests that 87% of DJ users are Gen-Z or Millennial.
Let's dive in and take a look at how it works.
What is Spotify DJ?
Spotify DJ is an AI-based DJ which picks out tracks for you to listen to. That doesn't quite do it justice though. In between tracks – every 4-5 songs in my experience – you'll here the voice of Xavier, or X. This is an AI-generated DJ voice that gives insight into the tracks that are coming up.
Things like "these are the tracks you had on repeat in the summer of 2017" or "these are some unsung hits from bands you like" are the kind of things to expect. It's nowhere near as intrusive as it sounds either.
How can I use Spotify DJ?
Using Spotify DJ is super easy. First, you'll need to make sure that you're signed up to their Premium service to gain access. If you are, simply open the app. On the home screen at the top, you'll see a little bubble named 'Music'. Click that and the DJ window should be open in the centre of the page.
You don't have to do anything else. X will introduce himself, and start playing tracks that suit you. If at any point you don't like where the music is headed, simply press the DJ button at the bottom right of the player window. Things will come to a rather abrupt halt, and X will switch things up.
Is Spotify DJ any good?
I've been using Spotify DJ for a little while and I can honestly say it's brilliant. I'm not much of a playlist fan – blame being brought up on CDs and the surge in popularity of records. I'm much more at home listening to albums from start to finish.
That has been troublesome in the past though, where I've fallen into ruts of listening to the same music for days on end. This is a really intelligent way of changing that. It has reams of data about what you like, and what you've listened to at different points in your life.
Straight out of the gate, X was pulling up a clever collection of tracks from my recent listening. Everything was well matched and felt cohesive. After a few songs, X jumps back in with a nostalgic look at some of my old listening habits, pulling up the kind of tracks I'd forgotten all about.
That's not to say it never gets a bit confused. It does seem to like running on tangents, and will dive deep into some unknown tracks for a while. But – barring a few poor picks and a very odd obsession with forcing Muse on me – it was good. I found a few new songs I liked and can appreciate the change of pace that comes from fusing different genres in one stream.
Spotify said that the AI DJ was designed to be more like a music-loving friend giving you little bits of additional information between tracks, rather than a full on DJ. I think that's been well achieved here. The interjections are sparse – I'd actually like them to be a little more regular, in fact.
This is still a beta, though, so there's room to grow. I'd like to see options added when you skip – give me the chance to pick a genre, ask for something new or something from a different era.
But it does what it's meant to do well. For someone like me, it's a great way to find new music and not get bored in an echo chamber of the same few albums on repeat for a while. Xavier is no Wogan, but he might just be the next best thing.