The Future of the Music Industry: Will AI Replace Musicians?

By August 31, 2017September 27th, 2017Blog, General, Music, Technology


The Future of Music

The recent release of the song ‘Break Free’, from the upcoming album ‘I AM AI’, is a new song which is already breaking ground within the music industry. Starring Taryn Southern (a YouTube personality), it is an album which is what it says on the tin – created with minimal human interaction. Southern combined her lyrics and vocal melodies with tech start-up Amper’s AI, a music creation software, which created all of the instrumentation for the album. This collaboration is popular too, with the single from the album already reaching over 300,000 views on YouTube. Although outwardly an extremely exciting route, is AI the future of the music industry? and could it replace musicians?

Although this album is an important step for AI, it is not the first of its kind. For example, the song ‘Daddy’s Car’, which was created by researchers at Sony. They used their newly developed AI system ‘Flow Machines’, a software which analysed around 13,000 lead sheets (a form of musical notation which contains the essential elements of a song) from different genres. The software then wrote its own melody, and Benoît Carré, a composer, aided in turning the material into a completely produced track. In this particular example, Benoît imputed his desired style of music, which was ‘The Beatles’, and the rest is history. What’s more, this is not the only example from the researchers at Sony and their AI system, as they’ve also produced ‘The Ballad of Mr Shadow’, with the aid of Benoît Carré. What makes ‘I AM AI’ particularly important, is that the AI system in this case wrote the instrumentation for the entire album.

Will AI Replace Musicians?

Whilst it is possible for AI to produce instrumentation, what all of the above examples do show, is that it is not currently possible for it to produce good music by itself. All of the above-mentioned examples have had some level of human interaction in the creation process, in order to make it a completely produced and finished track. So, it is safe to say, for the present, AI won’t be replacing human artists.

This point leads us nicely onto the general debate circling around AI replacing humans in a work environment. Within this discussion, there is an argument that creative jobs, and highly creative people, won’t ever lose their jobs to AI. What AI can do in the creative field, however, is be an ideal accompaniment to a human’s creative ideas – aiding in the overall creative process.

The opportunities with AI music are vast but there are many possible issues associated. For instance, can AI be sued for copyright infringement? Also, using the album ‘I AM AI’ as an example, even though Southern wrote the lyrics, AI composed the music, does this then make it solely her album and songs?
Whilst AI music software is rapidly progressing, it is safe to say that albums such as ‘I AM AI’ will certainly not be the last attempt. Whilst the progression of this route holds many questions about the future of the music industry – in the end, only time will tell.

Also published on Medium.

Mo Jalloh

Author Mo Jalloh

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