How Will Artificial Intelligence Change Music?
I like listening to meditation music for focusing or calming down. You can tune in to a playlist for an endless stream of ambient instrumentals that all sound more or less alike. Could AI create this all? Probably. Put together a few harmonies, gongs, and nature sounds, and you are good to go. Maybe you don’t even need AI; randomization would go a long way.
This is not a rant about “functional music,” like Sir Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal, let out recently. On the contrary, meditation music is designed not to engage the brain, so you don’t even want much artistic creativity.
But what if you could have AI generate complete songs from a text prompt as DALL-E does for pictures? So you could say, “play me a song about an amicable breakup with female vocals in the style of 2010s chillwave,” and AI puts out a new song just for you? We are not there yet, but they are working on it, for example, here. Would such a song resonate, even when you know that a faceless machine created it? Of course, a songwriter has no obligation to use a personal experience for a song, but wouldn’t it be a letdown to know that no humans were involved in describing deeply human emotions?
However, while it is hard to imagine that AI can replace a singer/songwriter, it may become a tough competition for beatmakers. Why should a topline singer share credit and royalties with one or more producers if she can have the beats generated for much less via AI? Even better, AI comes (hopefully) without ego and can produce exactly what the songwriter wants. Hitmakers – those with a golden nose for the next trend – could become obsolete if everybody can buy equivalent software for their laptops.
That all may be good news for indie musicians. Some people, maybe even the majority, will drift off to completely AI-generated, customized playlists. But those who care about the creative process will still look for the human behind the art. Like “handmade” is a selling point for craft products, “human-made” could be the same for music and art in general.
In fact, human-made art could become the only thing that cannot be done better and cheaper by machines someday, simply because it is, by definition, an expression of humanity.
Song Pick of the Day
Listen/watch all seven songs on YouTube. Follow our daily updated playlists on YouTube and Spotify for the 50 latest Song Picks of the Day.
“One Small Thing” to keep your sanity, to find peace – NYC singer/songwriter Nathaniel Bellows enlists Shara Nova for a beautiful journey into a calmer state of mind. “Massif Central” is not about the French mountain range but about being caught in bureaucracy, based on the personal experiences of singer Chris Steward, one half of the Montreal-based duo Bodywash.
NYC-based singer/songwriter Danielle Cardona sings about an intense love in “Closure,” an elegant, restrained pop song produced by Christopher Ambrose. “Papa Took My Totems” is the third single of Cate Clyde’s upcoming album Down Rounder. The song is about the many things that don’t go well in the world: “Totems, to me, feel like places and things that are important and real, to witness the destruction of things like that is devastating,” she says.
Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter Pitou is another artist whose album Big Tear we cannot wait for. “Devote,” a song about “being human,” is the third single from that record. The London-based musician Marti West has second thoughts about breaking up a relationship in “Nobody Knows Me (Like You").” He says: “Having lived in London for a little while now, I’m very aware how hard it is to meet someone you feel a connection with – especially in a big city.”
Closing out this week’s Song Picks of the Day is Ukrainian singer, songwriter, and producer Palmo X. She reflects on a depressed, “Colorless” state of mind in a hopeful, empowering way.
More Musical Time Travel
Elke and I have engaged in a friendly writing contest and are working on a love story between a rockstar and an accountant that takes place in London in 1995. The difficult part is that we don’t know London well – we just visited once for a few days in 1992. The easy part is the music: we listened to it all back in the 90s.
The cool thing about living now is that we cannot only put a playlist together that gets us into the groove again but also find all the facts that we missed back then. For example, we had no idea that Nirvana’s last ever show happened in our hometown Munich at a venue we saw several great shows at.
Nine Photos of Barbados Sunsets
Sunsets are not only beautiful but also healthy, according to a recent study. Photos may not do the trick, but they are better than nothing. Enjoy!