What Music Technology Wants To Do In Your Head


Here is a vivid memory from my childhood. My Grandpa has constructed a container similar to a large aquarium. It will be used as an incubator for chicken. After a couple deadly attempts (for unfortunate chicks), the grandpa found a correct low-power light bulb encased in a ceramic pot as a replacement of a hen.

This was my first encounter not yet with the AI or Artificial Intelligence, but with the technology replacing an actual live being. The lightbulb functioning as a warmth emanating and life-saving technology, instead of nurturing wings and feathers of a real mother hen.

This memory popped up in my mind, when I was reading about the AI getting trained to replace musicians, composers and music labels. In the name of a higher profit for the music industry and streaming companies in particular.

Music listening will act as a mood enhancer or mood changer in the first place. Once the machine learning and AI algorithms will be clever enough to properly read and react to your music preferences and mood changes, this technology will put together a tune tailor-made for you and your current state of mind. After some initial tweaking and adjusting, these artificial sound constructs will try to make you more happy, more energetic or more relaxed. All by reacting to your clicking a computer mouse or pushing a button. Learning from your past activities and from millions of similar listeners. And without any other human interaction or intervention.

Just you and a machine.

Will this be that proverbial El Dorado or a gold mine for the music industry and technology companies?

It is possible. Participating companies will not be exposed to dealing with moody musicians. No concert tour expenses, record release deadlines and other annoying work and responsibilities anymore. This will involve just the vast technology world of the internet, a few computer programmers and even less, but very rich music industry executives.
This is the ultimate “music as water” fairyland.

A successful business model already perfected by companies like Nestle, being able to sell millions of bottles of water without any real payment for the actual source of water itself.

I have no doubt that similar ideas appear in wet dreams of many music industry investors and power brokers.

To be fair, a new technology has always found its way to music. Whether in a form of new or improved instruments or reproduction technologies. So it is perfectly fine for the current technology people to try to push boundaries to find new ways for making and playing music.

The problem is when the human factor is left out completely. And when any cultural or aesthetic criteria become irrelevant. I dare to say that in such a situation we cannot talk about music anymore. Those are pure sound constructs.

With the growing power and efficiency of the technology and with the improved ability of the machine learning to mimic human approach to composing music, I have no doubt that resulting outcomes will soon be acceptable, even pleasing to some part of potential listeners. Especially to those already willing to get dumbed-down by the current media.
But I don’t think it will be so fast and so easy. Music has been with humans for tens of thousands of years. For the largest part of this long period, it had not been music to be primarily listened to, but music which people played for themselves and participated in with others.

Maybe music doesn’t play the same role in the society it used to play, but I don’t believe it could get relegated to some kind of a passive space-filler and mood enhancer run by computers.

On the other hand, I don’t think we could or should refuse attempts to include the newest technology in the music industry’s value chain. What I would prefer to see is the AI becoming another and valuable music co-player.

Instead of completely replacing humans in creating and playing music, AI could help them to do that to a larger satisfaction of active participants. Not only professional music creators, but truly everyone interested in music making. Results of such collaboration may not be exactly broadcasting worthy. But if done right, they may definitely be worth the effort and time of all participants.

This is what Musicably is about. In this scenario the value is in the process of creating new music every time music is played. Not like a process similar to dialing a radio to find a music genre suitable to your current mood and situation. Especially if the ‘radio’ knows more about your mood and your needs, than you are able to understand or willing to acknowledge.

As this could be a rather promising area for further development, among first attempts to combine Artificial Intelligence and music creation you can check Google supported A.I. Duet and also dowload Humtap.

What do you think?


1 Comment

  1. Brano says:

    I do pray and believe humans will not be replaced on 100%…. although 99% can be pretty achievable with today trends
    AI still needs power/electricity – generated by complicated process and with ease to be broken in some point…. humans can survive relatively easy with multiple simple natural resources
    Also it reminds me Terminator movie when computers/AI can overpower humans…. but humans still have something extra, provided by god – the soul, spirit which AI will never get as bonus from god, whos been donor. And this can support creation of music by humans which overpowers back AI.. at least in some scenarios which we will have to build…to be on equal level with overpowering AI back
    I do pray im not wrong at least in theory, otherwise…. 🙂