AI music: Death of Fandom or a Huge Opportunity for Artists?

Fandom—a feeling of connection and admiration for an artist—is in decline. Is the rise of AI a death knell for fandom or an opportunity for artists to stand out?

I tortured one of my friends when he stayed the night at my house in 8th grade. I didn’t waterboard him or pry his fingernails off with little skewers of wood. I’m not a psycho. No, my methods of torture were psychological in nature. I made my friend Sean listen to the entire Nirvana discography in 15-second soundbites—pausing each song to impress him with my knowledge of Cobain’s lyrics.

“Do you know what he just said there?! He said, We can plant a house, we can build a tree! You get it? Ok, now listen to this next part…”

He never stayed over after that.

I was a Nirvana super fan. I adored Kurt Cobain and I adored the band. So, I enthusiastically drowned myself in the pool of information and mystery surrounding them, Kurt’s lyrics, and of course their music.

I was experiencing fandom. My friend Sean was not.

Fandom is in decline. The rise of passive listening contributes to this decline. That means people often don’t even know who they’re listening to. And when they do, they may only know a song or two from that artist.

Everyone knows that the music market is oversaturated. The stats are plastered into the hook of every music marketing twitter thread and TikTok video; 100,000 songs are uploaded to streaming services every day! Here’s how you can stand out!

Commodification of music was already growing like the fire from a match thrown into a dumpster filled with kerosene rags. AI-generated music is like a firehose of gasoline being pumped into that dumpster.

This means, as Tatiana Cirisano points out in her recent article for Midia Research, that fandom is more important than ever. She says:

If we assume that AI will eventually be able to make high-quality music, and everyone has access to roughly the same tools, then fandom — which is already somewhat divorced from musical quality — becomes the only way to stand out.

Tatiana Cirisano

In other words, as fandom become more scarce, it’s value increases. It’s like bitcoin. There are only so many bitcoin so as our traditional banking system collapses in on itself, bitcoin becomes more popular and more people buy it. As it grows increasingly scarce, fewer bitcoin exist on the market and each one becomes more valuable.

This is not a warning about the potential dangers of AI music or a prediction of destruction. AI has the potential to both add a lot of value to the music industry and ironically, while likely exacerbating the problem of oversaturation, improve music discovery.

This is an observation on the undeniable impact AI will have on the music industry.

The rate at which new music is uploaded to platforms will continue to rise—like a gasoline-fire-hose. Artists should take note and double-down on their efforts to create real fans.

Forget the passive listeners. Seek connection. Seek fandom.

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