The rise of AI and electronic music

Trevor Jackson recent tweet helped prompt this, but it was something I was already thinking about posting a topic about - the rise of AI in music making.

I’ve been playing around with things like Dall-E and ChatGPT and figure it’s only a matter of time before this starts to impinge on music. What do people reckon - the death of creativity or a chance for DJs to go out with a bag of remixes unique to them?

Personally I’m not convinced about it’s ability to create brand new killer tunes from scratch (yet) but could easily see a situation where you chuck in some stems and train it on the style of a remixer/producer and it produces something interesting.

Early days but if anyone wants a play around I noticed this was recently released - https://www.riffusion.com/

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100% AI music will happen (for some genres/style its pretty much there if you’re using via AVIA, Boomy, Soundraw, Riffusion etc.).

Now, when AI masters singing (again, its close but not yet), and ChatGPT’s already winning on the lyric writing side… couple these three elements (lyrics, music, vocals) then your hit song (ie: probably a pop hit) is less than a few years away. Stick some Gorillaz/Crazy Frog type Avatar to front the track and Boooom!

Akin to Fruit & Veg that have to have an “Organic” sticker attached - if it contains no man-made shite, it would be good if record labels were mandated to place a similar label on AI-generated music. If any part of the making process contains AI then it doesnt qualify.

On the positive side, live music will become more relevant and respected once AI-Generated music is standardised (ie: AI could have its own chart, away from non-AI generated music)

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Been looking at the development of AI copywriting, and the results are scary. Likewise, some of the AI-generated art I see on Twitter. Inevitably, AI-generated Drumcode tech-house tosh is just around the corner, and with it, tracks that are the calibre of DJ tools for most modern genres.

What will it mean? At its worst, industry teams putting together packages based on metrics. Celebrity DJs honed for their looks and mass crowd appeal, placing a name to the music they’ve had zero input in. We’re there already with EDM and business techno, and the ghost producer is the only person getting put out now.

And as a producer or a DJ, getting listeners on YouTube or Spotify will be even more challenging, which are massively saturated platforms anyway and will only get worse. The same with any other major platform that comes along to replace those.

And what’s saddest is that most of the public won’t even care. In my experience, most people don’t really care about music. You only have to look at the amount of YouTube channels set up for “Chilled Beats 8” and “Music To Study To”, and we’re practically here already.

On a slightly more positive side, we will see the rise of the aforementioned “organic DJ”. The DJ revered for their curating abilities along with their ability to keep the party going. And there will always be a place for real music radio shows. As always, commerce will dictate matters, and these endeavours will operate on the sidelines with a fraction of the budget and profit that AI-generated music will generate.

If society truly drowns in this shit, then one thing that might counter it is the rise of the collective. 2 or 3 producers and 2 or 3 DJ’s and the only place you’ll hear their own produced music is at their nights. A bit like the reggae sound systems of old.

Of course, this means a consistent output of quality to pull people in, but AI will never replace talent in an individual or said individual’s desire to make music or DJ simply for the buzz. And yes, it’s going to 300 capacity nights that break even at best. They’ll probably be excellent and shit all over the mega-fucker one-day raves and festivals that dominate things financially, but as mentioned, we’re essentially there already.

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One of my friends has made an AI-powered radio station. He curated the collection of tracks, the AI decides what track to play next (based on key, tempo and a bunch of other stuff) and how to cross fade. Worth checking out just for the transitions, I think it’s really impressive.

https://midtempo.net/

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Some lovely, considered replies here. I think I remain glass half-full. The thought of an even more colossal number of weekly releases doesn’t sound great, but you’ll just end up focussing on the labels you know deliver the goods.

Some of the music I’ve really loved this year has sounded like nothing thats come before (or at least a decent iteration on it). I’m not sure AI will ever be able to pull that difficult new tune out of the bag in a dj set and persuade the crowd to love it.

I do think it could make an impact with much more personalised remixes though. Nothing I’ve seen so far has given me that killer Dall-E moment yet.

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An interesting take…

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I work in art education and have been having discussions with my colleagues about AI generated art over the past few months. What I have found is that with many creative industries we have moved from skill based to idea / influence based.

What I mean is that if you go back 30 or so years pre digital technology and look at a job such as a photographer for example, it was skill based and highly specialised. I’m using this as an example as it is my field. To master photography you had to spend a long amount of time learning the craft; aperture, shutter speed, exposure, processing, printing etc. Now with digital technology it is so much easier to create high quality images without having had to master the techniques because the camera and software automates them, this means that a photographer today can also be a graphic designer, film maker, editor, web designer etc.

So now to stand out it is much more about the ideas and influences you bring than your technical ability, I guess you could say the same about djing actually. So coming back to AI generated music and art I think that someone who is educated to a high level in aesthetics and culture is going to be able to generate more interesting and unusual output.

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And of course when photography was first introduced in the 1800s, many warned that this would mean the death of painting. Erm …

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I get that, and it can make me feel a bit like an old luddite throwing my shoes into the machine.

I think what makes this different though is the possibility that very rich individuals backed by a few very clever Phd AI students could replace huge numbers of jobs very quickly without enough corresponding new ones.

Your cutting-edge hugely talented creatives might be fine, but theres a load of people still very creative but maybe doing much more day-to-day stuff who may be affected.

Anyway, maybe I’m getting a bit deep - back to the music!

i found AI art depressing when i first saw it and now i read this.
sounds like hell to me

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I do t think it is. I’m not sure it’s that different from what Warhol was doing in the Factory or Damien Horst did with his dot paintings. AI is effectively an automated version of a pre-existing idea. My daughter is just about to start an art foundation course but she’s been experimenting with some AI ideas incorporated into some of her installations for A Level. I think there’s potential for exciting uses of it. Of course, there will be people who use it to take short cuts but I think it’s uses are only as good as the person inputting the information.

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