Scott Cohen, co-founder of the large digital distribution company The Orchard, recently said that “there will be a number one song that’s 100% AI-written.” Which is a scary thought, not only because it will displace millions of people from work, but because it removes the creativity and humanism from music.
It’s not unthinkable that decades from now much of the music that we listen to will be created using advanced software that figures out the optimum beats and lyrics for record sales. Is that a world that we want to live in? Technology is great, it’s awesome, and it’s saving lives at a rapid pace, but to create music with it is a completely different situation.
The beauty of great music is that it’s personal to an individual or a band, it’s not engineered because a software thinks it will connect with the largest audience or sell the most records. Perhaps it’ll help us to create even better songs, but that seems unlikely. Instead, it might drain the industry of creativity, job opportunities and the humanism that made it a magical place for many of us.
Google recently teamed up with a musician called David Usher and using their Lyric AI Assistant they were able to create multiple song lyrics using the software. Instead of starting with a blank page the software could interpret much of what he was trying to create and gave him back chunks of lyrics which he could hone and then send back through the software.
Using such an AI it’s possible that even the worst songwriters could create incredible music. Is that what we want? Sure, it gives us all the opportunity to create magic, but would we want to watch the Olympics if we could all take steroids that meant that we could replicate it ourselves? Probably not, great music is tremendous because it’s something that we couldn’t accomplish. Vincent D’Eletto, the founder of WordAgents.com, recently spoke about the written word in song and how it was “personal and powerful” and using software takes away from that to a large extent.
Another talented musician in her own right, Taryn Southern, composed and produced an upcoming album using four different AI music tools. Similar to the tool Usher used, she selected a certain style, tempo and musical key that the software then creates a melody from which she can then iterate before sending it through the AI again.
Southern compared it to a band member that inspires you but this, seems far removed because AI isn’t human, it doesn’t take a percentage of the revenue, and it can’t play it for you on stage. It’s not at all like a bandmate, it’s a “copy and paste” factory for music, and if we’re not careful, it will spoil the industry that we love and make it unrecognizable.