Will AI make music boring?

the algorithms will favor music that “appeals to the greater masses,” just like the iPhone camera’s photos.

Pay careful attention to the wording …

I didn’t ask if AI will make boring music.

I asked whether AI will make music boring.

Big difference.

This question was inspired by a TikTok video where the creator compares algorithmic playlists on Spotify to the latest iPhone camera, which he describes as using “computational photography to produce an image that is appealing to the majority of people, which is to say everything is exposed perfectly, everything is perfectly in focus, everything is perfectly lit. But it spits out an image which isn’t true to life…”

He compares that to Spotify and its new “Discovery Mode” which relies on “algorithmic intelligence to decide what people want to listen to.” His argument is that the algorithms will favor music that “appeals to the greater masses,” just like the iPhone camera’s photos.

“You’re going to see artists you’ve never heard of getting millions of streams because they make average music that isn’t going to challenge you or isn’t going to sound [like] anything unexpected.”

He captions the end of his video with this: “Art Decided by Engagement.”

Ok, so, I don’t think this guy’s argument makes any sense at all but I’m taking up newsletter real estate today to address it because I’ve seen other people make similar claims.

The “mid-music” this guy suggests in his video would only be possible if there were one giant algorithmic playlist that everyone listened to. That’s not even close to the case. There are algorithmic playlists based on genre, based on my listening habits, based on your listening habits, based on moods, etc.

If I am listening to music from the fringes of society, then Spotify’s algorithm will continue serving up music from the fringe. If you like to play it safe, perhaps Smash Mouth, all day long, (nothing against Smash Mouth) then your algorithm is going to keep dishing out the safe jams— a Smash Mouth bonanza interspersed with … I don’t know O.A.R. or something. (Nothing against O.A.R.)

So if anyone else makes this argument, that AI music discovery is going to make music boring, just snidely say, “you don’t even get AI, bro” and send them this newsletter.

Happy listening.

📍 Tool of the Week

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AI-powered song recommendation engine.

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