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Player Piano: AI and Independent Music

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Digital music company Believe and streaming platform TuneCore shared the results of their survey on generative AI. About 1600 self-releasing artists were interviewed and asked to express their opinions on the potential benefits of the technology. An astonishing proportion (about 35%) of respondents said they would be interested in collaborating with generative AI, borrowing some ideas from artificial intelligence for their music. Still, 18% admitted they would only rely on the technology to produce promotional content, such as videos for TikTok and Instagram, or develop fanbases. Nearly half of those surveyed reacted enthusiastically to the idea of donating their material for AI training purposes.

Commenting on the survey, Believe CEO Denis Ladegaillerie shared his view on the technology: “Generative AI and AI will open a new age of creativity and discovery, and transform in a positive manner every aspect of our partnerships with artists and the way we partner with digital music services”.

TuneCore CEO Andreea Gleeson added: “As AI continues to be a conversation topic across creative industries, we sought to engage directly with independent artists to determine their awareness of AI and how they’re most interested in engaging with it. TuneCore’s main priorities lie in the interests of our artists, so the responses to this survey will help us enable them to utilize AI on our platform with consent, control, transparency, and fair monetary compensation.”

Despite the unexpectedly large number of musicians who are on board with AI, the report stresses that 39% of those surveyed were “unaware and apathetic toward AI” and/or “have fears and concerns with the technology”.

Although some results of the survey seem questionable, certain numbers sound plausible. More and more artists, indeed, rely on AI as an assistant in their marketing campaigns. Bassist Jah Wobble, whom The Music Void interviewed in June this year, admits that artificial intelligence is often more efficient in creating effective content than humans. “I did a thing with AI sending it a request “Please publicise the next Jah Wobble tour on Twitter”. Bam! Immediately it did a great tweet. It put a tweet out, people responded, and it’s the first tweet I haven’t written, by AI, it’s amazing”.

Whether the creative capacity of AI is as on-demand as the survey shows, is still debatable. However, there have been examples recently when popular artists attempted to set a standard of how technology can be used in that respect. The overall enthusiasm about AI among independent music-makers has been fuelled by such formerly lo-fi artists as Grimes. The Canadian electronic music producer revealed earlier that she had launched a new AI voice software. Dubbed Elf.Tech, the programme allows people to duplicate Grimes’s voice and use it in their music. According to Forbes, the artist has been enjoying the idea of “open-sourcing all art and killing copyright.” Yet, this move, which is creating her own AI brand, cannot be interpreted as any other than an attempt to copyright material and artistic approach before it becomes part of the public domain.

While many things have been said about the negative impact on creativity, it’s really up to people to interpret the effect of the technology. As one artist, a friend of The Music Void, said recently, “I retrieve ideas from my brain just as if it was AI”. The process is, indeed, very alike as, in a similar fashion, human minds accumulate knowledge and experiences. Hence, the eclecticism of contemporary, often retromaniac, music which sometimes combines contrasting genres such as punk and disco. The only difference is that humans face the challenge of making an effort, subconsciously activating their memory and selecting from a multitude of tunes or vocal and instrumental parts, whereas, with AI, this process is effortless. One leaves the mental processing to the technology which explains to some extent the ignorance and lack of curiosity on behalf of some jaded artists. Does that mean that less thinking implies better creativity? This is still a rhetorical question. Yet, one should be curious and creative enough to use the technology for his/her benefit.

Author

  • Irina Shtreis

    Irina Shtreis is a music writer, researcher and musician. Her byline has appeared in British publications such as MOJO magazine, The Quietus and Louder Than War. Irina has been a news editor of the latter since 2020.

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