Nowadays, when a musician or a band is active, the general lifespan of a record is on average 2 years, from release until the end of a tour. Only after this comes a new record. This means the fan must wait at least two years to listen 10 or 12 new songs of their favorite style or artist. This has always represented a massive long wait for a short amount of new content.
But all of this may soon change drastically to a completely new scenario.
Very soon listeners may immerse themselves in a world with an infinite amount of music tailored to their individual taste. No more waiting. And how? Through artificial intelligence (AI).
And more, all this new music may have a huge statistical probability of touching your emotions in a positive way to you regardless of the context that you are involved in.
So how could this happen?
Simple: One scenario is that you will upload songs you like of a specific genre (or it will simply be tracked from your devices). The AI (Artificial Intelligence) software will analyze your music and identify patterns of harmonies, chord changes, progressions, melodies, combinations of instrument sounds, lyrics, BPM and much more from your favorite tunes. This way it can statistically identify what is comprised on the songs that you usually listen to.
Following this, through highly developed algorithms, AI will be able to then generate infinite amounts of NEW songs based on the patterns identified.
One of the main characteristics of AI is that the software can “learn” historically from the process. In other words, every time you communicate that you have liked or disliked a song it has produced the software will be able to identify elements that have “worked” and that “haven’t worked” and fix itself, producing future songs with a greater statistical probability that you will appreciate.
Basically AI might become your favorite band, constantly producing new music that will most likely please you.
Recently the SONY CSL Research Laboratory released an amazing song produced by Flow Machines, an incredible project that generates music through AI. The song was fully composed by their AI software, and arranged and played by humans. You can listen to the song titled “Daddy’s Car” here:
But do we like the same type of music throughout our lifetime? Of course not. This is exactly why AI will also probably consider interest changes throughout our lifetime (which can be easily identified, for example, through our browsing history) and most likely will associate it with the development of music.
For example, as a teenager moves into adulthood and becomes more interested in politics or existential themes, the AI software might consider political and existential-related meta-data to create lyrics which addresses such topics.
It will be able to customize and generate new real-time music playlists according to the time of the year, time of the day, if you are on vacation or not, drinking or not by aligning. Simply by aligning it to your GPS location, for example.
But how do listeners currently feel about the prospects of AI producing music?
According to a recent study produced by MusicStats.org with 219 European respondents (109 female and 110 male respondents, mostly millennials) we have identified a very negative perception towards AI produced music.
Measuring through a 5-point Likert scale which ranged from 1-Fully Disagree to 5-Fully Agree, results revealed that participants are not excited (at this current stage – July 2016) about the prospects of AI produced music and they tend to believe AI songs are not as valuable as music produced by humans.
Additionally, an independent samples t-Test revealed NO significant difference between genders. This is an extremely important finding which supports that the deep societal change in the context of music is not gender biased.
However we must interpret these results with caution.
As technology changes exponentially, so does many of our perceptions and opinions towards it. For example, over the previous decades we have changed drastically the way we deal with trust online (e.g. online banking and online shopping) and attachment and behaviors towards different types of technology products (specially mobile technology). Consumers were once skeptical about conducting financial transaction through ATM machines and later online by inserting their secret credit card information in platforms that they had never seen. Today, such behaviors are completely normal.
Thus it is expected that we will also adjust to this new form of music making and attachment to AI music. In fact, Sony Music has announced that Daddy’s Car (the song displayed above) is an excerpt of a full AI pop album to be released in 2017. So the big paradigm shift may be extremely soon about to happen, with immense implications to humanity and music as we know it.
But at this stage, can you envision an AI software becoming your favorite musician?