AI is the new buzzword taking over the news.
And although it’s something we should pay close attention to, I believe it will ultimately not hurt the music industry as much as many fear.
Hey there! This is Ramiro from GearAficionado, and apart from being a music lover, I’m also an economics researcher with an interest in the impact of automation on the job market.
I’m here to explain why apps like Boomy, Soundful, or Soundraw are unlikely to make a dent in the number of jobs available for musicians out there.
In fact, I will argue quite the opposite. Here are three reasons why AI will not take over the music industry:
We, musicians, like to think of ourselves as special creatures. However, as much as our mothers still tell us so, automation has already shaken other industries.
Have you ever seen a horse? These quadruped animals, at the start of the twentieth century, and for thousands of years until then, had been the preferred mean of transportation for humans.
When the automobile started to gain traction (no pun intended), many people thought it was the end of the world.
Particularly, those working in industries related to these animals. The thing is, although a lot of companies went out of business, the productivity increase in the overall economy that the car generated greatly offset the first downturn.
You see, we still measure a car’s power based on its horse equivalent. And nowadays, it’s quite common to be driving around 100 horsepower machines as if they were nothing.
But not only are they more powerful, but they are also more reliable and better at carrying people and things. Not to mention driving a car is quite less cruel.
Automobiles were so much better than horses that the industries that generated around them were big enough to absorb all the unemployment that the phasing out of horses generated and even create quite some more opportunities.
But what has this to do with music?
Well, one can imagine something similar happening, but at a smaller scale. As music becomes more accessible to create, although at first, some people will lose job opportunities, in the long run, there will be more music-related work required.
Even if machines start writing songs, musicians will still be needed to perform them, arrange them, and even market and promote them.
But a big thing about the current state of AI is that it is great at imitating, way better than any human, but it sucks at coming up with new things.
So musicians still will be needed for innovating. And hey, someone will have to program and tweak these algorithms, and those people better know a bit about music theory.
A big principle derived from labor economics is that you can use technology like ChatGPT to automate tasks, but rarely complete job positions.
A job is made of a number of tasks, and while some can be reassigned to a machine or computer, there will still be a set of others that only a human can perform. At least in the foreseeable future.
So, if you can imagine an artificial intelligence taking over the creating new music part of being a composer, the human in that loop will still be in charge of deciding what’s good and what’s not.
They can also tell what needs a different arrangement, and what styles or specific inputs will be given to the computerized tool to come up with something.
This will ultimately make that composer way more producer, and enable them to finish songs or even complete soundtracks faster.
Just as Melodyne and Autotune democratized singing in the last decade, AI will eventually make making music more accessible to the masses.
And you might have your opinions on these tools that modify vocal performances, but what you can’t argue against is that they changed music forever.
Is an autotuned vocal performance as valuable as the best take a great professional singer can record? That’s for the public to decide. And the same will happen with AI-generated music.
Many people will be ok with it. As the quantity of music out there floods the streaming services, the biggest part of it will shift from being an artistic expression to a commodity.
And as music is commoditized and the supply greatly exceeds its demand, most music will become incredibly cheap, and anyone will be able to afford to license it or even create it.
This will be the next step towards the democratization of music, and whether we are ready for it or not, we better know it will happen sooner or later.
But again, with more music out there, more musicians will be needed to play it live, more venues will be required to book concerts, more people will buy or subscribe to music-creating software, and many other new jobs we still can’t imagine will be created.
We’ll be just fine.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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