AI in Music: Distinguishing fads from trends

Oh good god, please not an AI Kanye!

You might have come across the viral video in which YouTuber Roberto Nickson recorded a rap verse and seamlessly swapped his voice with Kanye West's (Ye). He accomplished this with the help of an AI model specifically trained on Ye’s vocals.

It’s impressive. The quality is there; it really sounds like Kanye.

In his post, Robertson declared it as the moment the music industry was forever changed. (To be fair, I think he was referring to the technology as changing everything, not necessarily his own clip.) But the comments posted on the now-viral clip (over 30 million impressions on Twitter alone) seemed to agree, music is now changed. Really? This is the future of music; using AI to listen to your choice of vocalist on any song?

There was another one recently featuring AI-generated Jay-Z vocals. Producer and engineer Young Guru voiced his concerns on Instagram and called for quick changes to relevant laws saying, “People should not be able to take your Name, Image and Likeness without permission.”

While I agree with Guru that legislation needs to keep up with changes in technology, I don’t agree with Nickson that this particular use is the future of music.

In fact, I’m making the call now; this is a fad.

This stuff is fun, exciting, and fascinating, no doubt. But I see this particular use as no more than a fad, a novelty. A cheap, plastic, party-favor version of AI music.

To clarify, I don’t think AI in the music industry is a fad. In fact, I think it’s obvious that it’s just getting started, especially the use of generative AI in music. I am writing this newsletter after all.

I think personalization via AI will eventually find its place in music, and as the tech gets better we’ll surely see apps come and go that will allow anyone to quickly hear Billy Corgan butcher Cohen’s “Halleluja” or Tom Waits tear into “Enter Sandman” (wait, that one might actually be good). But the novelty will wear off and most people will return to passive listening.

I have little doubt that AI is going to disrupt music in numerous ways. I expect Web3 and AI will team up soon and blow our minds.

But I think this use of vocal replacement tools will be little more than a fun way to pass the time while we wait for the real disruptors.

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🔶 Random Curated Links

  • AI-generated music inferior to human-composed works (University of York Article)

  • New AI-powered search tool helps creators find music without copyright risks (Music Tech Article)

  • Generative AI Can Be a Co-Songwriter, Not a Copycat: Guest Post by Endel CEO Oleg Stavitsky (Variety Article)

  • If AI Starts Making Music on Its Own, What Happens to Musicians? (Scientific America Podcast)

  • 4 Free AI Music Generators to Create Unique Songs to Use In Your Projects (MakeUseOf Article)

  • Life after Daft Punk: Thomas Bangalter on ballet, AI and ditching the helmet (BBC Article)

  • U.S. Copyright Office Says Some AI Can Be Copyrightable (Music 3.0 Article)

  • Twitch channel Automata Radio blends music with ChatGPT AI (Music Ally Article)

  • JAY-Z AI Verse Sparks Concern From Young Guru, 9th Wonder & DJ Clark Kent: “My God” (HipHop DX Article)

  • A Word, Please: Did AI generate a post listing Lou Reed’s best songs? (LA Times Article)

  • Eminem AI 'Cat Rap' Creator Hit With Video Copyright Strike (HipHop DX Article)

  • New Text-to-Music AI Dubbed 'The Midjourney of Music' Outperforms Google's MusicLM With Unmatched Precision (Newswires Article)

  • In generative AI legal Wild West, the courtroom battles are just getting started (CNBC Article)

  • Timbaland plotting collaboration with an AI artist (Axious Article)

  • End of the Musician? New AI Program Can Create Dozens of Half-Finished Guitar Riffs in Voice Memos, Write Lyrics for Half a Verse and a Chorus (Hard Times Article)

🔶 Something to make you think

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