Do streaming services want to kill traditional radio, or become more like it? Those aren’t mutually exclusive outcomes, of course.
Perhaps it’s only by taking on some of radio’s key features – particularly ‘real people talking to you live’ – that streaming can ever hope to truly displace radio in mainstream listening habits.
Cue Apple Music’s radio stations, Spotify’s live-audio Greenroom offshoot, and (in a video context) Amazon Music’s integration of Twitch livestreams. Plus, of course, the ‘not live’ aspect of spoken-word content: podcasts.
What about ‘Artificial Neural Disk-Jockeys talking to you live’ though? Strange though it may sound, that’s what music/tech startup Super Hi-Fi is unveiling today with text-to-speech firm WellSaid.
ANDY (standing for the phrase above) is an attempt by both companies 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”.
The voice is the work of WellSaid, while the automated stitching together of segues, news, clips and ads is handled by Super Hi-Fi – with the platform we first dug into back in August 2019.
The two companies want to license ANDY to music and audio streaming services, although at this stage, there are no licensing deals to announce. Super Hi-Fi’s existing customers include Sonos Radio, iHeartRadio, Peloton and Napster, while it also signed a strategic relationship with UMG in 2019.
It’s early days for a fully-fledged AI DJ. Will streaming services want to have an ANDY? Will their listeners take to the idea? And how will this *really* compare to the experience of the best live radio shows out there.
Which may be the wrong question: perhaps ANDY can find a role simply by being better than the NOT-best live radio shows out there. We’ll be keen to see which services give him a shot.
Super Hi-Fi and WellSaid are not the first companies to explore this idea, we should note. In 2020 we profiled Radiant, a startup whose mobile app played music from Spotify, introduced by an AI host named Rad.
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