An AI-powered DJ for streaming services and radio? Yes.

Great. The robots are now coming for my job.

One of the downsides of streaming is that there’s little to no emphasis placed on context. Music goes in one ear and out the other with no explanations of why the song is worth your time, who the artist is, who’s playing on the track, and all the other information that makes a song more meaningful. We’ve also practically eliminated liner notes and artwork.

This, to me, devalues music and the work that goes into making it. I’ve spent my entire career trying to make music the music listening experience richer by offering information, background, and context to songs. This is one of the advantages radio has (or at least should) have over streaming: humans telling humans about music in a human way.

For all the bluster about streaming companies trying to kill radio, they actually want to become more like it. Enter Super Hi-Fi.

Described as “Artificial Neural Disk-Jockeys talking to you live,” Super Hi-Fi is working with a text-to-speech company called WellSaid. ANDY (which sort of stands for  “Artificial Neural Disk-Jockeys talking to you live”) is an effort to “create realistic human-voice narrated radio stations with perfect production quality… almost indistinguishable from a top-tier commercial radio station and includes music segues, breaking news, weather, voice tracks, and advertisements.”

Okay, but if it’s text-to-speech, you still need someone to produce the text, right? Is that what today’s radio people will be reduced to? Writing for a robot voice?

Super Hi-Fi is already working with Sonos Radio, iHeartRadio, Peleton, and Napster. Here are some examples of how it sounds.

Yuck. I hate it. For obvious reasons.

This isn’t the first time the DJ has been threatened with extinction. Back in 2020, a company called Radiant entered into a deal with Spotify that included an AI DJ introducing songs. (His name was “Rad,” naturally.) And ten years ago, I wrote about Denise, an AI DJ that was used by a station in Texas. I hated that, too.

Lovely. I want this to fail, again for obvious reasons.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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