If you haven’t noticed, the introduction of new AI tools, including Open AI’s ChatGPT content creator, is creating both excitement and concern. On the one hand, these AI systems open up vast possibilities for improving efficiency and abilities. But at the same time, they also pose challenges to existing structures in academia and in areas involving copyright protections. It seems that these same platforms are now influencing the future of music as well. With several recently released systems, the presence of AI in music production looks to be inevitable. And how the future of AI in music evolves appears to be a point of contention among artists.
The Latest AI in Music Production
The most recent buzz involving AI in music production comes from Google and its release of MusicLM. This AI music generator allows users to create musical content from scratch using a variety of inputs. For example, someone could create a melody after providing MusicLM with a particular genre or time period. They may also choose inputs related to a specific instrument, text, or even an image. Based on this, MusicLM then creates a song that aligns with these inputs. And the results are more impressive than one might think. Based in text-to-audio generation, these demonstrations highlight the future of AI in music coming soon.
Of course, Google is not alone in terms of platforms using AI in music production. Open AI also has its own version called MuseNet. This platform allows users to add an artist’s style or voice to another melody. For example, Open AI demonstrated how a work by Chopin could be adopted to a Bon Jovi version using MuseNet. This too looks to be the future of AI in music according to some experts. Specifically, DJ David Guetta made such a claim after creating a song with vocals that closely mimicked musical artist Eminem. By tapping into vast sources of information and data, these AI systems open new opportunities for music creation. And these tools are not only for existing musical gurus but for the novice as well.
“Probably there would be no rock ‘n’ roll if there was no electric guitar. There would be no acid house without the Roland TB-303 [bass synthesizer] or the Roland TR-909 drum machine. There would be no hip-hop without the sampler. I think really AI might define new musical styles.” – DJ David Guetta
AI Music Creation Startups
Naturally, Google and Microsoft-backed Open AI receives a great deal of attention in terms of AI in music production. However, there are many new startups in this emerging field as well. Not all of them are designed for existing musical artists, and some have unique niches related to AI-generated music. For example, Boomy doesn’t requires its users to have any experience or knowledge in music creation at all. Yet, it allows them to create songs using AI tools from scratch. In contrast, another startup, Avia, is more detailed-oriented, allowing musicians to edit songs note-by-note. And Audioshake is one that allows instrumental sounds to be dissected out of songs and remixed to create new versions. As is evident, there is a variety of ways the future of AI in music may go.
One of the more interesting areas involving the future of AI in music relates to functional music. Function music refers to music designed for a specific use. Songs might be tailored to help one sleep or relax, or they might be used to enhance focus or exercise. New startups using AI in music production for these purposes are also appearing. Endel is one company that adopts a mindfulness approach to music creation using AI. Its songs strive to affect cognitive states, and users can use their own physiological feedback to aid in content creation. Aimi is another functional AI music startup that allows users to play with intensity and texture of songs. The AI tools available permit customization for the right mood and feel they want.
“Nothing is going to replace taste. What defines an artist is, you have a certain taste, you have a certain type of emotion you want to express, and you’re going to use all the modern instruments to do that.” – DJ David Guetta
New Technology, New Challenges
As with any form of change, many in the musical industry aren’t so welcoming of AI in music production. Many believe data-driven music will undermine the creative process and permit machine-driven content devoid of talent. But the future of AI in music isn’t likely to be one where anyone can create the next #1 song using AI platforms. Such songs thus far lack the level of quality and sophistication that top musical artists might create. Instead, it’s much more likely that the future of AI in music will be more of an advanced tool for top talents. As a result, the potential for an entirely new style of music is quite likely with AI in music production.
The more practical issue linked to AI in music production has to do with copyright protections of artists. For example, anyone could take an existing artist’s song and reproduce variations of it using AI. To what degree does the original content deserve copyright protections? How much does a song have to be altered to no longer apply to copyright laws? Currently, these laws prohibit the unauthorized manipulation of an original work. But many fear the lines may become blurred as the future of AI in music advances.
“Today, AI cannot legally download a catalogue of songs or rip from streaming services, because doing so would violate both the owners’ copyrights and those platforms’ terms of service.” – Michael Nash, Chief Digital Officer, Universal Music Group
An Inevitable Future of AI in Music
All one has to do is to think back to the days of Napster to appreciate how new technologies can wreak havoc in the music industry. As technological advances emerge, threats to existing structures are inevitable. However, technology also invites new opportunities for artists to create, ushering in new musical styles and sounds. The future of AI in music will undoubtedly involve pros and cons no different from past technological developments. Along with these changes, there will be some struggles until a new normal emerges. But to resist the role of AI in music production altogether is like swimming upstream against a tsunami. AI will be a tool all modern musical artists will need to embrace if they wish to remain relevant.