Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal – these playlist platforms aren’t the only music-related companies that rely on artificial intelligence to suggest new music and hits.
As a student who studied the ins and outs of music business operations as part of my undergraduate degree, the reliance on AI technology in the music industry has accelerated dramatically over the past few years. Although beneficial for the entertainment sector, it has also been considered controversial for the reason it restricts new music disruption/experimentation and relies simply on analytics.
During my time as an intern at Atlantic Records, every other month a new “influencer” star was added to our roster of clientele. These artists had prior fame in a Tik-Tok/Instagram environment and had just begun to launch their music career with Atlantic.
It has become so profitable for the music industry to launch the music careers of influencers within these past few years, it feels as if previous “music talent” is at the bottom of the list of artist requirements. And it’s all due to artificial intelligence and data monitoring.
Why build a young artist from the ground up, when we can save the trouble by pursuing an already established social media presence and fan following?
The big 3 record labels – Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment – each are putting in billions of dollars into the development of machine learning for their respective Artist & Repertoire departments. (The A&R department is responsible for finding and developing musical talent.)
One of these AI-based platforms, named Sodatone, has been acquired by Warner since 2018. The Toronto-based startup combines streaming, social and touring data with AI to identify the unsigned talent that it believes is the next future success. Besides providing key metrics in terms of social following and social interaction for current roster artists, Sodatone can help A&R professionals find out the next big breakout star – who can sell tickets, who can sell records – all based on analytical data and machine learning.
The NYC based startup Amper Music is an artificial intelligence composer, performer, and producer. Amper Music lets users set measurements in genre and length, then creates an entire song for the user’s respective project. Each song is unique and broadcast-ready, and comes with a royalty-free, global, and perpetual-use license.
With the use of AI, songs can be created with a push of a button without the need of musical talent. In fact, Taiwanese company KKBox is creating an AI platform for musicians that will create the next pop hits based on current trends and data.
Since the early 2000s, the music industry has been battling a financial crisis with music piracy. With artificial intelligence as a helping hand, the music business has been boiled down to a slim science. Now, the industry is more data driven than it has been in the past. It heavily relies on AI technology to predict the next best financial decision: who is worth investing into, who is best in terms of artist collaboration, and what music can we create that is already guaranteed to be catchy?
From a digital marketing perspective, AI solutions have provided a clear idea in how to ensure successful campaigns. But for some major label artists – the idea of a chat bot being created with your artist personality feels artificial for a fan experience. And for some long-term musicians, the idea of labels not relying on “demos” and simply social engagement “numbers” as the reason to sign talent makes the industry feel too robotic.
With this direction of artificial intelligence in the music industry, it has certainly shaped the business into a clear-paved, technical direction. Scary or not: AI is currently making our next pop sensation.
Ingham, Tim. “Warner Buys A&R Scouting Tool Sodatone to Boost ‘Search for the Superstars of Tomorrow’.” Music Business Worldwide, 28 Mar. 2018, www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/warner-buys-ar-scouting-tool-sodatone-to-boost-its-search-for-the-superstars-of-tomorrow/.
Jem, I. “How Social Media, AI And Data Is Changing The Way People Explore Music.” Sound of Life, 21 Apr. 2020, www.soundoflife.com/blogs/experiences/how-social-media-ai-data-changes-music.
Pinchefsky, Carol. “4 Ways AI Is Helping Musicians, and the Entire Music Industry.” HPE, 26 Nov. 2019, www.hpe.com/us/en/insights/articles/4-ways-ai-is-helping-musicians-and-the-entire-music-industry-1911.html.
Stassen, Murray. “Can AI-Driven A&R Transform the Music Business?” Music Business Worldwide, 27 Feb. 2020, www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/can-ai-driven-ar-transform-the-music-business/.