Welcome to the world as we know it in 2023: Artificial intelligence is driving a new wave of creativity and innovation across all sectors, and the music industry is feeling the effect.
As an accessible and extremely prolific tool, artificial intelligence (AI) software is changing the way we both make music and consume it. Machine learning and generative AI, in fact, provide endless creative possibilities for anyone interested in pushing the boundaries of artistic experimentation. Its input is highly customizable as well as cost-effective, and it represents at least part of the future of music.
These days, platforms like ChatGPT, Songstarter, MUSICinYOU.ai, OpenAI Jukebox, Staccato and many others pitching themselves as “an AI Lennon to your McCartney” are popping up a dime a dozen, and in doing so raising questions like: Will this be the end of human creativity? Or are there ways to leverage the potential impact of AI to fuel artistic experimentation?
Could this simply be a new chapter in the history of human creativity? My money’s on yes, absolutely.
The truth is, AI tools are already changing how music is made, and more music than you’d think is already being produced with the help of AI. I’ve used this technology in my own work as a producer, including for collaborations with the likes of Juice WRLD and a concept album with guests like Rosalía and Karol G. For example, you could ask something like ChatGPT to elaborate on the story you’re trying to tell through your music, and it will come up with a precious outline for each track.
Another great place to start is by creating a simple symphony with AI, only to then sample it and make it more complex. Find yourself stuck on a rhyme or complex lyric? Feed it into ChatGPT to get a different version. Ask it to generate a beat, a voice clone, a synthesis or a melody, and you’ll be surprised by how much simpler your life will be once you learn how to work with AI, not against it. It’s the birth of a totally new medium.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and roses. Let’s look at the dark side of this technology: If AI is great at engineering, mixing, mastering, sampling and editing, what is the modern producer to do? Adapt, adapt, adapt. And do it quickly, because AI isn’t waiting around.
Realistically, rather than “steal everybody’s job,” AI technologies will bring about new and innovative forms of collaborations between humans and machine learning—a complete revolution of the social contract between the two parties, and a potential embrace of a different, more expansive future to come.
The onset of AI-generated music is also starting to raise a variety of legal issues and is likely to lead to the introduction of new copyright laws. The world’s leading music company, Universal Music Group, has been clamping down on AI deep-fakes that infringed on copyrights and “issuing takedown notices left and right,” such as in the case of the Drake rip-off that the artist himself labeled “the final straw” in a post on Instagram.
Streaming giant Spotify recently confirmed its intention to take on the “legitimate concerns” major labels have around deep-faked tracks; the platform is “trying to establish a position where we both allow innovation, but at the same time, protect all of the creators that we have on our platform,” said Spotify’s CEO, Daniel Ek.
It’s all happening quickly, and the next few years will prove decisive for determining how the music industry as a whole will respond, adapt and best incorporate the prospect of AI tools.
After all, autotune did not destroy human creativity—it simply boosted its potential. If AI is simply the latest in a series of new and exciting creative frontiers, well, what better news for all of us who champion creativity above all else?