One of the leading streaming services facilitates users access to the endless music catalogue by introducing a new digital attribute. Described by tech-savvy experts of GIZMODO as “deeply unnecessary, but still pretty handy”, the AI DJ performs functions similar to intelligent virtual assistants. Relying on machine learning, it picks up favourite tracks and suggests songs matching the music taste of a customer.
Spotify premium users, based in the US and Canada, can access the new function by hovering over the Music news feed on the mobile app. Here, a green circular shape appears, looking a bit like a phosphene on the inner side of one’s eyelids. The chatty robot infuses conventional listening with tongue-and-cheek remarks on songs and facts about the album. Although you can change the suggested selection of tracks depending on your mood, there is yet no possibility to choose the DJ. The AI curator’s voice is designed after Xavier “X” Jernigan, the company’s Head of Cultural Partnerships.
In his interview with The Source, “X” Jernigan gave the following characteristic to his personality: “I’m nice. I’m myself. I try to be as authentic as possible. I try to treat people as well as I possibly can. I try to be my unapologetic self, and just make connections with people.” Sounds as if the real X was trying to compete with the AI version of himself. In other words, the response is properly corporate.
Do you get a feeling of déjà vu? Well, Siri playing your favourite songs from the Apple Music playlist isn’t too far from this. GIZMODO sensibly compares the new Spotify feature to AI products by Microsoft Bing and Shutterstock. So far, the virtual DJ seems to be on the trial run stage. It’s not accessible for anyone outside America and Canada (some videos handily explain how to circumvent this obstacle).
As the brand is not new to AI (Spotify’s playlists such as Daily Mixes, Decade Mixes, and Mood Mixes are created with a little help of robotic friends), the AI DJ might be a part of a bigger ongoing project. Such flirtations with technology help to divert attention from last year’s scandalous Joe Rogan case and general controversy over the streaming service.
Another question is whether one needs any service to navigate them through their listening experience. What is offered sadly feeds into the spoon-feeding quality of consumer culture. It would be great if digital technology encouraged critical thinking rather than reminding their customers that they are victims of Hobson’s choice, that is, to be a consumer or an outsider. But that’s another story.