Spotify Created an AI-Powered Avatar of The Weeknd for a Personalized Listening Experience

The microsite uses deep learning and user data to personalize the artist's dialogue

AI-generated photo of The Weeknd
Spotify said it created the avatar from existing footage of the artist. Spotify

A new AI-powered listening experience from Spotify offers listeners some personalized one-on-one time with The Weeknd.

The streaming service rolled out a microsite this week that features a slightly distorted digital avatar of the R&B star, who addresses listeners by name and comments on their listening habits. The appearance and voice of the digital clone is based on real footage and audio recordings of the singer, amalgamated through deep learning, according to Spotify.

“Hey Ashley, thanks so much for listening to my music. Means a lot to me,” the artist’s digital likeness says in one example exchange. “I see that you are in the top [9%] of listeners.”

The avatar will also comment on stats such as your favorite song and the amount of time you spent listening to it, drawing on the personal data-driven approach that has become the hallmark of much of Spotify’s marketing. Spotify worked with Toronto-based experiential agency Jam3 on the project.

The campaign is designed to promote The Weeknd’s fourth studio album, After Hours, which was first released in March. Spotify said that virtual listening experiences like these are especially important at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has made most forms of live music impossible in the United States.

“The goal of Spotify and The Weeknd’s ‘Alone With Me’ site is to provide fans with an intimate experience at a time when artists and fans are missing the connection of live music,” Spotify vp and global executive creative director Alex Bodman told Adweek. “The result is a personalized experience for every user that has listened to The Weeknd on Spotify, in a way we’ve never done before.”

Between computer-generated virtual influencers and AI-powered customer service personas, digital avatars have become an increasingly popular way for businesses to reach consumers in a personalized manner on a large scale. Agency Space150 demonstrated how this technology might be used in the music space last year with a digitally generated Travis Scott music video, complete with AI-produced lyrics and a deepfake avatar.

@patrickkulp Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.