Emotion, self expression, freedom and connection.
These are a few words that come to my mind when I get stop and think about what music means to me. The power of music lies in its ability to evoke emotions that might otherwise remain buried within the recesses of our souls. The music industry has always been a landscape of innovation and creativity while embracing new technologies to redefine the way music is created, distributed, and consumed but in the last couple of years, a groundbreaking force has emerged and it’s completely reshaping the industry once again: Artificial Intelligence (AI). Just as music has adapted through ages, it’s ready to shred through this one, reminding us that while the stage transforms, its essence as the narrator of the human experience stays relentless so let’s find out together how this this revolutionising tool is now changing the game.
With its ability to analyse vast amounts of data and generate new original compositions, AI is revolutionising every facet of the music world such as artworks, melodies, sounds and lyrics but what’s the impact on the fans? Is using AI it really “cheating” as they say? How’s our future going to look like?
Personally, as a visual artist and photographer that works in the music industry, I often find myself using AI to retouch my images and generate artworks and can confirm that since I have started using the tool I have had the chance to focus more on my artistic vision and less on the technical intricacies and while having a chat with other creatives in the industry I have had the pleasure to find out that sound engineers utilise their version of the tool too to design unique sounds and effects by experimenting with AI and the results have been impressive. By inputting a few simple parameters such as mood and tempo or even just the name of an artist as a reference on websites on websites like OpenAI’s “MuseNet” and Amper Music, AI can generate compositions that align with the creator’s vision, allowing the user to generate unique songs making it an extremely helpful tool, especially for emerging and independent artists as it’a great way to accelerate the producing process of a melody by providing pre-composed elements.
There’s many other pros when it comes to the use of AI in the music industry.
Artists and writers get helped by constantly getting offered fresh ideas and creative sparks that might not have occurred naturally, gifting them their own Christmas elf that stays up all night to fabricate new artefacts; the algorithms can analyse listener preferences and behaviour and curate personalised playlists and recommendations, just like services like Spotify and Apple Music use to offer their users a tailored music experience, introducing them to new artists and tracks that align with their tastes.
An example that illustrates copyright issues in the context of AI-generated music is the ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ case. A song featuring AI-generated vocals of Drake and The Weekend, reportedly created and made viral by a TikTok user called Ghostwriter977, generated over 600,000 Spotify streams, 280,000 YouTube views and 16m TikTok views in less than 24h.
This situation raised many complaints and questions from numerous music industry professionals about authorship, ownership, and the extent of AI’s role in the creative process but it has also created a positive reaction on all the string platforms and social media proving that the general public would still be able to appreciate an artificially generated piece of art as well as the one produced by humans.
The audio file has now been taken down from all the streaming platforms due to “copyright issues” but, as always, what gets publicly posted on the internet never really leaves us and affects us in the long term in fact even though the original sound from the creator has been deactivated, a large number of remixes and features can still be found on TikTok and Twitter.
To make the most of AI’s potential while preserving the essence of musical tradition, a delicate balance must be struck. Here are a few considerations: AI should be viewed as a collaborator, not a replacement for human musicians so they can use AI-generated elements as tools to expand their creativity rather than supplant it.
In a perfect world, musicians and industry professionals would adapt to the changing landscape by embracing AI as a tool for growth rather than to eliminate the human presence but what would that mean? There is a strong need of establishing ethical guidelines and regulations for AI-generated content as it is crucial to ensure fair use, protect intellectual property, and maintain the integrity of the music industry but for now we better put our seatbelts on, hold tight, embrace the fact that AI’s presence in the music industry is undeniably transforming it and enjoy the ride.