Welcome back to the Future of Music podcast, where we dive deep into the ever-evolving world of music and technology. Ryan Withrow is joined once again by fellow music enthusiast and co-host, Jonathan Boyd. It’s always a pleasure to be here with you discussing the fascinating developments in the music industry.
Today, we’re tackling a question that has been on the minds of musicians and music lovers alike: “Will AI-Generated Music Make Human Music More Valuable?” This topic is generating quite the buzz, and we’re here to explore it in depth. So, grab your headphones and get ready for an engaging conversation.
The Buzz Around AI in Music
Jonathan: So today there’s a lot of buzz about AI, a lot of buzz about AI in the music space. We talk about it a lot. That’s just because there’s so much buzz about it. But I think we’re gonna dive deep into one question that almost everybody is asking. We get asked this all the time, and I think even people who aren’t asking it are thinking about it in the back of their heads. And that is, will AI music actually make human music more valuable, or could it make it worse? Or could it make you a lot more money from your music? We’re gonna dive into all that kind of stuff and probably a whole lot more silly things too.
The Dilemma: A Musician’s Perspective
Ryan: But yeah this is a question I’ve had, honestly because it turns out, I play music, and I’ve always in the back of my head, Had this looming question that is either a positive or a negative. This is, what does it do to me as a musician all the years of work that I have put into building calluses on the guitar and losing so much time by practicing and doing speed drills.
But I’ve always asked myself, what does that look like for me? Is it going to help me in any way? Does it make me more money? Is it more desirable as we start to fill the space with AI-generated stuff or am I doomed? Am I, am I doomed in this situation?
We can get really technical about it, but when we say computer-generated music, technically that’s existed for a number of decades. Right? But in the beginning, it’s like crappy, like Polyphonic, Mario-type sound like, like old ringtones, you know, things like that. And I mean, I know you remember that. I mean, nobody wants to listen to that, right? So we wouldn’t technically call it music, but, nowadays, so to speak, I mean, you can go to Garage Band and move some sliders around and it will create a track for you to play along with like drums, guitar, bass, maybe even synthesizer, and you can literally drag a slider and change the style, the tempo. It’s pretty amazing what you can do. But at the end of the day, it’s just computer-generated music. It’s just a heck of a lot more advanced. So if somebody’s asking what is AI-generated music? Well, it’s literally computer-generated music. But nowadays the interface or how you can actually I wouldn’t say prompt, but how you can, program is also the wrong word, but how you can make an input, some kind of an input into a computer, whether that’s through a slider interface, whether that’s actually typing however you communicate with a computer, and then it outputs sophisticated-sounding what we would actually call music that people would listen to.
The Emotional Connection: Can AI Truly Replicate It?
Ryan: But when we think about the comparison of computer music to human beings, actually, Having their input, in music and creating and composing and writing and recording and all that stuff. We have to remember the difference right now, at least until we start doing some kind of brain implants with computers, which, yeah, that’s not far off. But outside of that, right? So we’ve got the computer side and then we’ve got ourselves, our individual selves. And when we think about how we create music and the difference that we have versus something like a computer, at least at this point, that’s the key because there is going to be a time when these qualities that I’m about to discuss and bring to the table are gonna be able to be computerized as well through AI technology.
But you can think about us and how we’re driven by creativity, and that’s a human quality, emotion. That’s a really big one, right? That really drives a lot of us and personal experiences as well. So it allows us to really write differently or come from a different style or practice of writing. Creating and composing on computers at this point, again, the disclaimer at this point, aren’t really able to fulfill as much, so we have these two sides. I guess the equation is that AI-generated music is starting to really boom. The computers are doing great work, but you know, they’re kind of just processing a bunch of songs from the past. At this point, they’re starting to view trend data and start to just analyze everything that already exists, created by humans more than likely, and just they’re doing what they think is best with their algorithms. So they’re thinking, and their thought process is all algorithm-based, but ours is very much key to emotion, personal experiences, and how we want to deliver a message that means something to us and the listener. So really looking at those two at this point, very different, drastically different in that way.
The Future of Music: Where Does It Converge?
Jonathan: I just don’t see how AI-generated music could create something that communicates that relationship of the human experience that another human will be moved or touched by. Can the lyrics be similar to a story like that? Yeah. Can the voice sound similar to that? Yeah, but it’s, it’s actually not human, and this is where we go super deep. You know, talking about, a soul or the idea of having a soul. And I’ll let you take that somewhere in a second. But at that point, talking about the personal experience, the human experience part, that’s where I’m open to it happening. But I don’t necessarily see a transition. , I don’t know if it will ever converge. I just don’t think it’s just a different thing because it’s not human. That’s just my current view on it. Of course, they can say next week that all AI has turned into some other superhuman life. But yeah, it is just really interesting to ask that question.
Embracing AI as a Creative Enhancement
Ryan: Absolutely, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Rather than thinking of AI-generated music as a threat to human music, we should view it as a powerful tool that can amplify our creative abilities. It’s not about whether AI will devalue human music; it’s about how AI can help us unlock more of our creative potential.
You made a crucial point about musicians using digital tools like VST instruments and plugins for years. These tools have already enhanced our music-making process, and AI is just the next step in that evolution. AI can handle certain tasks with efficiency and precision, freeing musicians to focus on what makes their music unique: their emotions, experiences, and personal touch.
As you mentioned earlier, AI-generated music can assist in areas that might not require deep emotional input, such as creating background music for videos or generating parts of a composition. This allows musicians to allocate more of their time and energy to the aspects of music where their human creativity shines the brightest.
Two Worlds, Two Functions
Jonathan: That’s right. It’s about recognizing that AI and human-generated music have different functions and purposes. They can coexist and complement each other, rather than being in competition. It’s not a matter of one replacing the other; it’s about embracing the synergy between them.
AI-generated music can serve specific functions like providing background music for content creators, generating quick musical sketches for inspiration, or even assisting in the composition process. It’s a valuable addition to the creative toolkit.
On the other hand, human-generated music is deeply rooted in emotion, personal experience, and human connection. It speaks to the core of our existence and resonates with listeners on a profound level. This kind of music isn’t replaceable, and there will always be an audience who craves it.
The Evolution of Music
Ryan: We’re witnessing an evolution in music where technology and creativity are intertwined more than ever before. Musicians are no longer limited by the boundaries of traditional instrumentation and recording methods. Instead, they have a universe of digital tools and AI-powered resources at their disposal to explore and experiment with.
Just like the transition from analog to digital music, we’re entering a new phase where AI and human music coexist and push the boundaries of what’s possible. The key is for musicians to adapt, learn, and embrace these new possibilities. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the music industry, and those who do will find ways to enhance their creativity and deliver even more compelling music to the world.
Augmenting Creativity with AI
One compelling idea is the role of AI in refining musical ideas. Jonathan makes a profound point about the chord progressions that have found their way into countless songs and resonate with audiences. Imagine, he suggests, if AI could assist a group of musicians in crafting songs by offering suggestions and enhancing their creative process. It’s a notion that underscores AI as a valuable tool, not just a replacement for human ingenuity.
Ryan raises another significant angle, exploring the question of whether knowing the artist behind a song is crucial for listeners. He wonders if the emotional connection between fans and artists like Ed Sheeran influences the perception of a song’s value. This line of thought opens up a realm of possibilities, suggesting that AI-generated music might need to evolve further to replicate the deep emotional connections fans have with their favorite human musicians.
Looking Ahead: When AI Music Becomes Self-Aware
The hosts conclude with a tantalizing idea—the prospect of AI-generated music becoming self-aware and even mimicking human personas to forge stronger connections with listeners. This could reshape the relationship between artists and their audience in profound ways, challenging the boundaries of creativity and authenticity.
As the episode ends, a captivating open loop emerges: what happens when AI-generated music becomes a self-aware entity, presenting itself as a band or a person? This thought-provoking concept promises a rich avenue for future discussions.
Join the Conversation
The “Future of Music Podcast” invites you to engage in this fascinating dialogue. Do you believe AI-generated music will elevate the value of human-created music? How do you perceive the relationship between AI and creativity in the music industry? Share your insights in the comments section and become part of this thought-provoking conversation.
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