Ricky Rubin Wrote a Book

The book is about creativity and how to access our innate creative abilities as humans. It comes out right as everyone is starting to notice AI entangling itself into… sh*t, everything

I can hear you murmuring now, “what does Rick Rubin’s book have to do with AI?”


Rubin’s book is called, "The Creative Act: A Way of Being”. I listened to it over the last week and enjoyed it so much I bought the hardcover version too. Let’s just say, if I had an Oprah-esque book club, it would get a big orange robot sticker on the cover signifying my approval.

Parks and Recreation screen grab, Joan's Book Club

Parks and Recreation, Leslie holds book with sticker from Joan's Book Club

The book is about creativity and how to access our innate creative abilities as humans. It comes out right as everyone is starting to notice AI entangling itself into… shit, everything, I guess — work, art, culture, and more specifically, music. This “AI-entanglement” is forcing us to reimagine what it means to be creative and, perhaps even, redefine art.

I’d be surprised if Rubin was thinking about AI at all while he wrote his book, but with AI fever running rampant, the timing of its release is kind of beautiful.

I recommend reading the whole thing but, for today’s newsletter, I want to draw your attention to one chapter called “Collaboration.”

Rubin begins the chapter by saying,

“Nothing begins with us. The more we pay attention, the more we begin to realize that all the work we ever do is a collaboration. It’s a collaboration with art that’s come before and the art that will come after. It’s also a collaboration with the world you’re living in, with the experiences you’ve had, with the tools you use, with the audience, and with who you are today.”

Rick Rubin, The Creative Act

This passage is perfect for talking about AI in art and music. I realize it is easy for me to appropriate a paragraph that has nothing to do with AI and make it so, but please hear me out.

A collaboration with the world by definition includes all things in that world, right? Right!

Obviously, that would include AI, be it generative music, a chatbot assistant helping you with lyrics, AI-assisted mastering software, or something else really cool that I can’t even imagine.

For the sake of this discussion, I am not talking about an AI that allows one to “press a button and get a completed song”. Pressing the button doesn’t count as “collaborating” in this scenario.

Collaboration requires creative input.

But whether it is creative input into an AI program or creative input on the neck of a guitar, it’s still creative input and I don’t think the discussion needs to go any further than that.

The AI culture war is over. I did it!

In the same chapter, Rubin says this about the artist’s experience vs. the viewer's experience of a work of art:

“If the artist is happy with the work they are creating and the viewer is enlivened by the work they are experiencing, it doesn’t matter if they see it in the same way.”

Rick Rubin, The Creative Act

I’ll force Rick’s words back into my AI box to add, it doesn’t matter what tools were used either. If the artist is happy making music with AI and the listener is happy listening to it, then… what’s the problem?

📍Tool of the week

🔸Drayk.it (Link)

Drayk.it is ridiculous but maybe also a sign of things to come. Dear god, what have we done!

It was made by Mayk.it, an app and "Virtual Music Studio" who say they are "redefining what music genres are, and anything goes." (Link)

📍 Random Curated Links from around the web

🔸Rick Rubin asked about AI and creativity on the Tim Ferriss Podcast (Link)
🔸Rick Rubin's Book The Creative Act: A Way of Being (Link)
🔸Rick Rubin on the Huberman Lab Podcast (full episode link)
🔸Flavio Schneider's Tex-to-audio diffusion samples (Link)
🔸Moises.ai : an AI Music Platform. Isolate vocals & instruments, add a metronome, change speed, pitch, and more. (Link)

(also, the keyboard player from Dream Theater endorses it, so, there's that...)

🔸 Video2Music Demo on Huggingface, by Qosmo (Link)
🔸 Msanii: High Fidelity Music Synthesis on a Shoestring Budget (Link to paper)

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