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  • Writer's pictureJohn Ennis

Eye on AI - May 21st, 2021

Welcome to Aigora's "Eye on AI" series, where we round up exciting news at the intersection of consumer science and artificial intelligence!


This week, we’ll be looking at how AI is being used by streaming services and musicians alike to unlock new avenues of music sharing and creativity.


AI Is Pushing Music Toward New ‘Golden Age’

“Progress in AI music is accelerating rapidly, thanks to researchers and musicians at major tech conferences and universities who want to integrate widespread AI into the music world,” writes Bernard Marr in his Forbes article, “How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Is Helping Musicians Unlock Their Creativity”.

As we sit here, we’re in the midst of an AI-driven revolution in music consumption thanks to streaming services. It’s never been easier to find, share, and discover new music. Want a personally curated playlist for that exercise? No problem. How about a mood playlist for relaxation? Just a click away. But there is a catch: while streaming services are excellent for music consumption, they’re notoriously bad at artist compensation.

In 2019, streaming accounted for 80% of record music revenues, giving streaming providers a veritable monopoly on album distribution. Album sales plummeted as streaming became more popular, forcing musicians to make the difficult decision of submitting their music for streaming at lower royalties or keep hammering away at declining record sales. But there’s hope for both sides yet. According to Marr, smart musicians, creators, and record companies are starting to better use AI to their advantage.

“Audio-on-demand streaming like Spotify totaled $534 billion in the United States alone, according to Buzz Angle Music’s 2018 report,” continues Marr. “So how do promising new artists get discovered, with all that competition? Artificial intelligence helps the music industry with A&R (artist and repertoire) discovery by combing through music and trying to identify the next breakout star.”

In the same way, streaming uses AI to look at individual listening patterns to make recommendations, record companies have begun looking at group listening patterns to predict the next big thing. Warner Music Group purchased a tech startup that uses AI to look at things like social media, concert sales, and streaming numbers to predict the next big act. And in 2018, Apple acquired Asaii, a startup specializing in music analytics, to help boost their A&R. That expands the ways in which artists can be discovered beyond streaming providers.

Contributing Artist of the Year Goes to: Artificial Intelligence

Where record companies use AI to find their next big artists, artists use AI to predict better themes, scales, and tempo for their music.

“Grammy-nominated producer Alex da Kid used IBM Watson to analyze five years’ of hit songs, as well as cultural data from films, social media, and online articles to figure out a theme for an AI-generated song that fans would enjoy,” continues Marr. “The final song, ‘Not Easy,’ reached number four on the iTunes Hot Tracks chart within 48 hours after its release.”

Big budget composers created Amper, a consumer-friendly online tool that helps non-musicians and online content creators with small budgets make royalty-free music. AIVA, a similar AI solution, helps mainstream users compose their own soundtrack music and scores for things like Youtube, Twitch, Tik Tok, and Instagram. And composer David Cope even used AI to create Experiments in Musical Intelligence, which uses AI to help him overcome “composer’s block.”

From consumption to creation, streaming to hit-song creation and even bionic gloves that allowed a renowned pianist crippled by arthritis to play at his peak again when only weeks before he could hardly lift a pen, AI has a role in nearly every aspect of the music industry. And I for one can’t wait to hear where it takes us next.

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