How Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping The Music Industry

How Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping The Music Industry

The music industry is an ever changing environment. Regarding the music we listen to, to how we listen to it.

From records & tapes to CDs and iPads where constantly looking for new and better ways to experience our favourite songs.

With the emergence of VR, AR and AI, this decade could see the most drastic change yet. 

In saying that, in some instances, we are already there. 

Artificial Intelligence for one, is been used by the likes of Spotify to recommend songs that suit your taste. 

Not just based on genre, but a complicated algorithm that can make better predictions for you, the more music you listen to. 

Furthermore, If you have ever mastered music as an independent musician you will know how costly it can be. 

This at the moment is where AI is changing the landscape of music. Behind the scenes (but not for long).

Have you heard of Landr?

Landr masters audio with the help of Artificial intelligence at the fraction of the cost it would be to hire a professional. 

The beauty of it is, the more you use it, the better your masters will come. As the AI learns from the information it receives. In this case, music. 

There are a lot of innovating startups making waves in the music industry at the moment, each specialising in different algorithms and styles of music. 

With that said, I created a modern cinematic piece in D minor, with the help of Artificial Intelligence Virtual Artist (AIVA), which you can too. 

You can have a listen to my first AI composition below.

I’m beginning to think my stint in College studying Music for Games and Film may have been a waste of time 🙂


AI has already been impacting various industries in recent times, especially in the medical and science department, were it’s doing some great things, improving and saving lives.

There are a lot exciting things happening out there at the moment as companies battle it out to produce the next norm.

But before I discuss what impact AI is having on music, let’s nerd it out with a few phrases you might of heard recently and what each one brings to the table.

Artificial-intelligence-how-it-will-shape-the-future-of-music

Artificial Intelligence

The term artificial intelligence has been putting the fear of God into musicians at late.

That said, it is not a new technology for us. 

We have been making computer-generated music ever since British Scientist/Composer Alan Turing, first composed a song on a computer that filled his entire lab. 

In saying that, it has become more accessible in the past decade or so. 

With some of the innovations and progress, startups like AIVA are making in the music industry, it’s no surprise. 

Artificial intelligence is demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans. 

In other words, they could learn something in an hour that could humans a thousand years to achieve. 

Should we be scared or should we be excited?

Well, it all depends on how you look at it. 

It does make things a little easier for us independent musicians or filmmakers, especially on big projects where we can’t afford a big orchestra per se. 

With AI we have an option of producing something, not only at a fraction of the cost but at a fraction of the time.

This will change the way we make music, and I personally think in this instance it’s for the better. 

On the other hand, are we taking away the human element of creative passion. 

Additionally, will musicians suffer because of it?

Will session musicians as we know them, soon be out of work?

If they’re anything like these guys (Wrecking Crew) I surely hope not. 

let’s take a closer look…

wrecking-crew-session-band
Play Video

Feed Me!

For AI to work we have to feed them hundreds if not thousands of melodies and lyrics into a deep learning algorithm. 

The more we feed it the better it gets at producing or reproducing what we consider music.

So based on that data allocated to them by humans, in theory, their compositions will sound human-like. 

That said, we do know they learn at an unfathomable rate, which far surpasses the cognitive capacity of today’s humans. 

With such learning capabilities will our finest virtuoso’s be able to compete?

For instance, will Mozarts Symphony No.41 “Jupiter”, sound like a mere nursery rhyme to the complex algorithms AI uses to make music?

Well, let’s find out.

What Does the Future Hold?

So what does this mean for the music industry?

Does this mean people who don’t play an instrument or understand music will be able to produce a number one hit at the touch of a button?

Furthermore, could music created by AI, flood the market and make what we once considered an iconic piece just another song. 

Could music become a forgotten art form, and come to be a mere commodity?!

Future Scenario

You get home from work, type in the kind of mood you’re in, into your home computer and it creates a song for you right there and then that’s never been heard before. 

Could music become so ready available that we’ll have a new number one hit every 30 minutes?

What if we download the song on our own personal AI created especially for us and share it with the world? Just, upload it to our personal profile for all to see. 

Will this in turn make celebrities out of us?

Cos after all, our AI created these songs based on our preferences and personality.

Or will our personal artificial intelligence assistant reap the awards?

The thoughts of people creating hits with little or no knowledge of the art form is divisive to say the least. 

It brings up a lot of questions.

  • Does this mean anyone can become successful in the music industry?
  • Is there no place left in today’s society for purists?
  • Does the music industry belong to the younger generation?
  • How far away are we from it happening?

What If It's Happening Already?

People are using AI, and have been in recent years to make music. 

So it won’t be long now until it becomes a more acceptable practice. 

Even now you don’t have to be a musician in the traditional sense of the word to make a hit record.

For example, a young man of 19, you might have heard of him?!

If not him, most definitely the song he became known for.

It was the most popular song ever recorded. Do you need a hint? Think hip hop and cowboys.

His name is Lil’ Nas X, and the song was called Old Town Road.

Lil’ Nas X, originally Montero Lamar Hill, only started making music 16 months before the release of Old Town Road.

He’d been releasing semi-successful music even before that, making a name for himself online.

in saying that, his leap though, from relatively unknown to global superstardom is nothing short of a phenomenon. 

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you can watch the video with Billy Ray Cyrus below. 

So How Did He Do IT?!

Well, let’s put this in perspective for you.

Many musicians around the world past and present, spend years mastering their craft.

Countless hours practising and playing, putting the 10,000 hours in to be the best they can be.

Well, how did Lil’ Nas X manage to do it in such a short space of time?

He bought the beat!

That classic trap beat you hear on the track was bought online for just $50.

Additionally, with the help of producer YoungKio, they sampled a snippet of the Nine Inch Nails track ’34 Ghosts IV’, then added the now infamous vocals and the rest is history.

Originally clocking in at just 116 seconds, it has been the subject of thousands of memes and broken records everywhere.

To put it lightly, people ate that shit up!

Why though?

Is it cos it’s a catchy tune with memorable lyrics?

Or that it’s short enough that when it finishes you want to hit that button and play it again? 

If we all knew the secret to success we’d all be doing it. 

How Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping The Music Industry

Don't Stop While You're Ahead

Lil Nas X, like most of his generation grew up with computers, smartphones app and vast knowledge of how the internet works.

Not only that, but they know how to market themselves.

Every kid of what we now call ‘Gen Z’ is a natural marketer.

Lil Nas X knew how to promote himself online through the Reddit SubReddits, Soundcloud, Youtube and other social media channels. He was a master of the memes.

With all this new success you think he would just sit back and enjoy the ride, but he didn’t. 

These young guns have a great drive and understanding of entrepreneurial skills far above the years.

Grabbing The Bull By The Horns

He kept pushing the track, igniting debates and conversations through SubReddits and Quora.com. He kept it relevant. 

Not an easy thing to do these days with the amount of information available to us and the speed in which we move on to the next big thing.

 It topped the Billboard charts for a record 19 weeks.

It’s an incredible feat and thoroughly deserved.

With that said, will the future of music be less about the dedication to the craft and more about your marketing savvy?!?

If so, where will this leave the music industry in 10 years time?

You could not blame the younger generation for not spending half their life mastering an instrument when they can just buy a beat, sample an instrument, layer over a vocal and start raking in the cash.

Hip hop artists have been doing this for years and look at how we’ve embraced that genre.

Yes, hip hop rose up from a cultural background. It wasn’t just about the music it was a way of life.

Well, who’s to say that the internet, social media and smartphones aren’t a cultural movement, a way of life?

Sufficed to say, whether you like it or not, that is the age we are living in and Artificial intelligence is ‘for lack of a better word’, a ‘natural’ progression.

What about the live music scene?

The live music industry should also be considering how to incorporate augmented and virtual realities to the concert experience.

Bernard Marr, Forbes Magazine

We are already taking the live experience to a new level with bands such as Muse and DJ’s like Eric Prydz leading the way. 

We are not quite there just yet, but don’t wait until everybody else start’s incorporating it into their live performance. 

Get ahead of the pack and start experimenting now, cos it’s going to happen and soon at that. 

Seeing your favourite act live will soon be a whole new experience and one that i’m personally looking forward to venturing.

Think about it…A combination of AI, VR and augmented realities been spear headed by our leaders in the music industry!

My imagination is running wild 🙂

The Future of Music

You can now pick up your smartphone, hum into an app and create a full track within seconds.

As awful as this might sound to some, it offers a new form of ‘creativity’, (I use that word lightly) and expression.

A company called JukeDeck, created an app which they named ‘HumTap’. 

They first pitched their product in 2015’s Startup Battlefield, which become viral. You can watch the legendary pitch here.

Co founder, ED Newton-Rex, claims that this method of making music could be the future for advertisement and online videos.

At present, it can cost anywhere from @50 – €5000 to purchase music for use.

With this method, it will be a fraction of today’s cost due to the volume of AI music available to you.

  • Will it become a bit like what streaming for artists is today?
  • Are we going to make just a few cents from each track we produce?
  • Will we have to make hundreds of tracks a week to start seeing profit?
  • Can the same track be bought multiple times or will there be copyright restrictions?
We’ll just have to wait and see.

A Eurovision Song Created By AI

They fed hundreds of Eurovision lyrics and melodies to a deep learning algorithm to generate the first Eurovision song create by artificial intelligence.

You can check out their efforts below. Blue Jeans and Bloody Tears

To be truthful, I’d vote for it. 

I think it has everything a Eurovision song should have this day an age. 

Non-sensical Title √ Quirky If Not Awful Lyrics √ Synth Pop √ Cheese  

I think the AI absolutely nailed it. 

Have a listen and let me know what you think in the comments 

 

Will AI Take Over From Humans?

Machine learning as progressive as it is, can be a scary thing. 

Humans ever since they we reached the technological era as we know it have been pushing the boundaries of innovation. 

The question on everybody’s lips is, are we pushing it too far?

Is Skynet soon to become a reality?

If machines can learn at such a rate that they will surpass the humans who created them something we should be worried about. 

Will our knowledge of music, and our once celebrated creativity, be soon to be deemed obsolete?

This got me thinking…

Remember the seen in Back to the Future, when Marty McFly played Chuck Berries Johnny B Good, in the school’s dancehall to his parents’ generation?

When he finished the song, people just stood around looking dumbfounded, when Marty uttered the line, “you’re not ready for that yet, but your kids will love it. 

How Artificial Intelligence Is Shaping The Music Industry

If they learn at such a rate that they’re producing music way ahead of our time, will we be able to make heads nor tails of it?! 

That’s why I think humans will always be creating music and other art forms. 

As humans, art is our way of expressing ourselves. 

It evokes emotion, which AI for now can not understand. In addition, human beings are unpredictable. 

What we like today, we might not like tomorrow. 

Do we keep feeding the over fed or do we keep a grain of wheat to harvest a new wave of music and rebel against the establishment.

Only the future will tell.

Conclusion

Music has taken a lot of turns in recent years. From the dominance of synths and hair rock in the 80’s to the break out of grunge in the 90’s. 

Bands have always been experimenting and pulling in different directions.

Years of over polished music is usually followed by the raw angst of anti-establishment teenagers looking to break from the norm. 

Is this the decade where the purists take a back seat only to reform in the 30’s to play their music for a new generation of fans pushing for a revival.

How do you see the future of music and the influence of artificial intelligence will have on it?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Further Reading: 

If you’re looking to distribute your music online and your not sure which music distribution service you should go with, you can check out my definitive guide here.

Baz McAuley

Baz McAuley, the founder of Badgrammrbaz.com, is an independent musician & digital marketer, specialising in music marketing and promotion.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.