Twelve Brutal Truths about AI Music
Ignore the hype—here's what the bots will really do to our songs
It’s so hard to separate hype from reality. That’s especially true when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI).
Some experts insist that AI is launching a new age of efficiency, increased productivity, and economic growth. Other experts warn that unleashed AI will lead to the extinction of the human race.
Why can’t they make up their mind?
Those questions are definitely above my pay grade. I have enough trouble worrying about music. But I do have some ideas how AI will change our songs—provided the human race is still around to listen to a playlist.
The goal at The Honest Broker is to tell the unfiltered truth, even if it’s unpleasant or runs counter to official narratives. In that spirit, I’m sharing “Twelve Brutal Truths about AI Music.”
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(1) AI music might actually just disappear. Does that sound crazy? It shouldn’t.
Poof! And it’s gone.
It won’t be musicians who kill it, but lawyers. They have raised song copyright litigation to an art form. And it’s increasingly obvious that AI can only create new songs by learning (= stealing?) from old songs. It only takes a few court cases to destroy the entire economic basis for AI music.
Just this week, ChatGPT got served with its first defamation lawsuit. Suing robots could turn into the next gravy train for the legal industry.
And if I’ve learned one thing about litigation, it’s that nothing is crazier or more unpredictable than. . . . a jury. Let them brood over AI music even for just a few hours, and they’re liable to do anything.
But we can’t count on this, and in any event the legal status of AI music will take some time to sort out. So let me continue with my list.
(2) Dead musicians will come back to life.
I don’t think the music business has fully grasped the zombie angle. The potential profitability is huge. Just imagine a dead musician or dead band working for you—they never complain or go on drunken sprees. They just churn out songs on demand for every occasion.
A few goofy YouTube videos have played around with the concept—making an AI John Lennon sing a David Bowie song, for example. These smell like gimmicks right now. But sometimes gimmicks get turned into major trends.
A lot of people thought rock ‘n’ roll was a gimmick when it first emerged. The same for jazz—the first jazz record was actually a novelty tune, relying on horns to imitate barnyard sounds. And how many people listened to “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979, and dismissed it as a novelty record?
I did. And I was wrong.
The same thing will happen with AI tracks by dead musicians. It seems like a stunt today, but it can quickly metastasize into a whole industry.
That’s likely, because the greed level among corporate and individual owners of the estates of dead musicians is off the charts. I’ve met some greedy musicians over the years, but the great ones always cared more about artistry. The heirs often have very different priorities, and they will have superstars singing ringtones and radio jingles if the money is right.
So AI will lead to a Beatles reunion. Hendrix will jam again. Miles will make another album with the Kind of Blue band. Sonny will croon with Cher once more, and Simon will sing with Garfunkel. (Yeah, I know that three of those artists are alive, but the concept is the same.) When those things happen, remember that you heard about it here first….
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