While AI's expansion into the music industry is an intimidating and off-putting idea for those songwriters afraid that a computer will take their job, the reality is that as this new era of technology dawns, there are number of ways in which the music can, and should, benefit from new AI tech.
Guest post by Berta Melder
During the industrial revolution, people learned to create machines that could deal with various physical tasks. Machines have proven to be more productive and more efficient, however, they couldn’t replace humans because they were unable to think. Today, engineers teach artificial intelligence to solve intellectual tasks. Machine learning is one of the most promising modern technologies which can be used for a variety of different tasks. AI constantly conquers new industries, including media, online dating, and even music.
Of course, computers are still far from writing Grammy-nominated songs, but they learn quickly. Machine learning is based on examples. The more examples a computer sees, the better it understands the principles of creating music. The music industry implies certain difficulties with accessing information because of copyright issues, but what if IA gets access to the necessary information? What is it capable of? And how can musicians use it?
Artificial Intelligence in the Music Industry
The idea of robots creating music is scary for many musicians, however, the AI-based software has become so common that it doesn’t look like something new anymore. Producers realize that AI-powered tools can be useful and start using them. One of the first musical experiments with AI was an app called Verbasizer. It was created in 1995 in collaboration with David Bowie. This program worked with lyrics, rearranging words in the source material and creating new combinations. Bowie considered this app a good tool that can boost creativity. In 2016, Sony used the Flow Machines algorithm to create a song called “Daddy’s Car,” which was based on The Beatles’ music style. A popular music program Logic, which is used by many professional musicians, already includes AI-based mechanisms that help create unique drum beats.
There are many other AI services. Companies like Google, IBM, and Spotify invest in artificial intelligence and create new interesting solutions. Most of such systems are based on deep learning networks. These networks need massive amounts of data. For example, you can give them hundreds of classic disco songs, and they will analyze them, finding popular patterns and chords, learning what tempo is better, and what notes sound good when played one after another. Carrie Katz, a technical writer at Masterra Writers, notes: “Just like any beginner musician, AI turns its own musical experience into something completely new, writing its own compositions. However, learning takes a lot of time and a lot of data, so machines are still far from creating music that you would actually want to listen to.” AI-generated songs are simple and sometimes don’t make any sense at all, so musicians shouldn’t start to worry about losing their jobs.
Using AI to Compose Music and Changing the Way Hits are Made
The CEO of Amper Music, Drew Silverstein, emphasizes that music created by AI is not aimed to replace real artists. This company develops AI software that writes music in different styles, with various options regarding the used sounds. Silverstein thinks that there is a big difference between artistic music (e.g. Ed Sheeran’s albums) and functional music, like elevator jingles. There are many people who need music just to make a soundtrack for their YouTube videos. They don’t really care who created it and they have fairly simple requirements regarding its quality. In this case, AI is a perfect solution, although it still remains unclear who should possess rights for such music.
AI can become a tool that helps musicians and empowers creators. Such a scenario looks much more realistic than robots receiving awards and becoming superstars. Even if AI becomes capable of creating decent songs, it won’t be able to replace musicians because the music itself is not the only valuable thing about music artists. Any musician has their story, passions, political views, etc. It’s an artist’s personality what makes people buy tickets to concerts and download new tracks. This is also a reason why artists cannot devote all their time to songwriting. They have to give interviews, meet with fans, and play gigs. Many musicians get exhausted because of their schedules, and AI can help them, producing fresh ideas 24/7.
The Best AI Tools for Musicians
- Amper Music
We’ve already mentioned Amper. It’s a cloud-based solution which creates music based on the selected style, mood, and duration. It allows users with little to no experience in music to create tracks in various genres. The website has a user-friendly interface and two modes: simple and pro. If you’re not satisfied with the results, you can always change the beat or used instruments until you get what you want.
- Aiva Technologies
This startup from Luxembourg is focused on creating music for video games, movies, and commercials. This AI has analyzed works of many classical composers and created its own “Opus 1 for Piano Solo,” as well as “Symphonic Fantasy in A Minor, Op. 21.” Compositions written by this AI are used in Nvidia’s videos and a video game called Pixelfield.
This is an Australian startup based on deep learning technology. This program can predict what you will play, accompany you while you’re playing, and even improvise. An electronic keyboard is the main instrument for Popgun, as it was trained on electronic samples. However, developers promise that they will collaborate with musicians to teach this tool to play other instruments as well.
This tool is similar to Amper but has a different pricing policy. Tracks cost $1 for small businesses and individuals, with free options for credited companies. If you have a big company, prices may reach $22 per track. The developers put a lot of effort into teaching this AI, feeding it with massive amounts of audio data.
- Melomics Media
This AI creates music with no help from humans. All compositions are created from scratch using an Iamus supercomputer. Recently, developers also added the Melomics 109 cluster and improved the computing capabilities of the machine which already has two albums (here’s a track from the last album).
Although the idea of machines creating music may seem scary for some musicians, the truth is that artificial intelligence can provide them with new creative ideas. In addition, AI is the best solution for people who need a simple jingle for their commercial or a soundtrack for their YouTube video. However, creativity is still a human thing, and machines should learn a lot before they can compete with real musicians.
Berta Melder is an experienced brand manager and a content marketing strategist for Masterra. When she’s not writing, Berta cooperates with different education courses covering a broad range of digital topics as a guest lecturer. Follow her on Twitter.