In the last 10 years since Spotify was launched in Sweden, the music industry has changed dramatically. Since we all gained smartphones with the launch of the iPhone and Android devices, we’ve been glued to them. But how has that affected the music industry? Well, streaming platforms such as Spotify, and more recently Apple Music, have changed the way we as an audience consume our music as those paying a subscription fee to an online music platform rocketed to 176 million in the US in 2017. With the technology going even further, and Artificial Intelligence rapidly rising, we have to ask: how long will real and physical music last? And will AI succeed in the creative industries?
I’m sure we’ve all noticed artificial intelligence’s rise in popularity in the recent years. With Amazon’s Alexa being one of the most sought after Christmas gifts this year , it’s important to note how AI is taking over human roles, even on a small scale, like turning the TV off. More significantly in the wider picture, AI’s influence over technology could be considered frightening by some of us. Spotify’s popularity has soared as well with more people than ever streaming content, Drake’s chart topping Nice For What being listened to a huge 41.78 million times in the month since it’s release being a prime example of this.
AI and ‘robots’ may be very good at doing mundane tasks none of us like doing, such as making shopping lists or even driving (check out Google’s sibling company Waymo), but can their technology be creative enough to replace traditional artists? But within this new digital music landscape we have created, the real question is will technologies replace us humans as a creative source? The problem with AI being creative is they’re based on technology, which ultimately relies on maths and equations that generally are not considered particularly creative. In fact, IBM have created an artificial intelligence platform to do just that, having made 2016’s Morgan trailer using these AI’s algorithms mimicking previous horror film trailers. Can we consider that as creative though? Or just learned behaviour randomised to form an output of already used techniques? Aiva Technologies disagree having already used artificial intelligence to create a software capable of composing classical music, earning it the title of the first AI to be given the status of Composer. While at the moment the company states the AI still needs help to perform the music, they hope in the future their AI platform will be able to create music indistinguishable from human capabilities.
Despite all of the incredible technology involved in the creation of AI, I find it hard to believe it will ever completely overtake human artists. The complex emotional reactions and connections to music that humans have is something huge populations of people can relate to, which AI generated music lacks.
Spotify is undoubtedly affecting the music industry, as is AI in all industries, but I’m sure we all knew that anyway. AI might have the physical capability to create sequences of notes and instruments that can be deemed music, but what it lacks is the complex human emotional reactions to music that develop and improve the music we know and love. The main concern, I think, is whether AI is going to affect the creative industries society has grown to rely on, can it replicate human creativity? Or will they just create the same monotonous tones continuously coming second to human creativity ? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!