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iHeartRadio partners with AI to offer digital listeners gapless playback and improved song transitions

iHeartRadio has collaborated with artificial intelligence platform Super Hi-Fi to improve the digital listening experience by imitating some of the nuances of a live radio broadcast. Super Hi-Fi will provide smoother song transitions such as precise crossfades, volume leveling, and gapless playback to digital listeners. The end result should eliminate gaps between songs and a better sense of energy and momentum across programming.

The result appears to be a refinement of crossfading between two tracks offered by some other on-demand music services. In Spotify, for example, you can make a global setting which determines the number of seconds (up to 12 seconds) before the end of the first track, when the second track begins. That’s a blunt setting, because of the many ways that tracks can start and stop. The iHeart solution brings intelligence to those differences, and is meant to emulate the human-controlled gapless music play of radio stations.

iHeart sent RAIN the following video, which illustrates the crossfades which merge the end of one song with the start of the next song. The in-between gap can differ greatly depending on the two songs. The purpose of the Super Hi-Fi partnership is to deliver a consistent stitching across all those differences.

“Radio DJs and programmers have mastered the art of segueing music to create beautiful transitions from song to song, maintaining the desired energy and mood of the listening experience that more than a quarter of a billion live radio listeners have grown accustomed to hearing,” iHeartRadio Chief Product Officer Chris Williams said. “Creating transitions that are unique to each individual song combination is not an easy task, and with the billions of potential song combinations available on our platform and new ones coming every day, it was impossible to scale this by hand. Working together with Super Hi-Fi we have made the impossible, possible, and we are excited to share this new listening experience with our listeners.”

“Broadcast radio sees the highest market penetration and longest user engagement over any of its digital counterparts, and this is in part due to the masterful capabilities of their on-air talent,” said Zack Zalon, co-founder of Super Hi-Fi. “We are thrilled to be launching with iHeartRadio to deliver radio’s skillfully produced audio listening experience to its digital users. This is the next frontier for innovation and growth in the digital music industry, and we are excited to be working with iHeartRadio to roll out the first phase of these cutting-edge products.”

According to its press release, iHeartRadio is the first digital music service to use AI to provide this approach to gapless music playback and natural song transitions.

Brad Hill

4 Comments

  1. I am sorry, but but the demo was not very impressive. A first year college DJ knows the drum beat open of Casey Jones will seg out of any song with a fade ending. Here is an idea iHeart might want to try, hire talented production people and pay them a good wage to build the playlists.

    • I thought it sounded really good, much better than big gaps I think. If this really works across my own playlists I’m sold.

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