For me, one of the most exciting aspects of the recent wave of generative AI technology is the democratizing impact it has on creativity. We’ve seen how anyone can use tools like ChatGPT or Midjourney to express their ideas with words or pictures. And the way we create and listen to music is about to be turned on its head, too.
In recent years, we have seen a plethora of AI music platforms emerge, including Meta’s Audiocraft, OpenAI’s MuseNet, Soundful, Soundraw, Boomy, Amper and Loudly, among others. These allow anybody to create and customize music.
Recently, I was joined by Loudly founder and CEO Rory Kenny for my podcast, covering a number of topics that I personally find fascinating.
Does AI threaten human creativity by ushering in a future where all of our art and entertainment is conjured up from digital data by super-smart computers?
Or does it allow us to augment and enhance our inherent human creativity in new and exciting ways, breaking down social and technological barriers to creativity and enabling us to express ourselves in new ways?
This was just one of the questions that Kenny and I hoped to get to the root of—while also taking an overview of the fascinating technology and the business model behind the platform.
Generative AI And Music
Generative AI holds transformative potential for the music industry, acting as a catalyst for creativity and innovation. In this domain, it can create new compositions, generating novel melodies, harmonies and rhythms that can inspire or aid musicians in their work. Artists and producers can leverage AI tools to explore diverse musical styles and experiment with unique sounds, thereby expanding the boundaries of musical genres. Moreover, generative AI can personalize music for different audiences, tailoring tracks to individual tastes and preferences.
Different platforms are emerging, each with its unique capabilities and focus. For example, Soundful offers a straightforward approach, providing producers with more control over basic musical parameters, making it ideal for those requiring more than just a finished AI-generated song. Aiva, in operation since 2016, targets individuals and businesses aiming to craft soundtracks for different media, allowing for customization and versatility. Beatbot distinguishes itself by using text prompts to generate short songs, focusing on enabling users to be a part of the music creation, particularly within the hip-hop and rap genres. Each of these platforms caters to a unique need in the market, showcasing the expanding horizons of AI in music.
As for Loudly, it is an advanced AI-driven music creation platform with an extensive training set of 10 million songs and a sound bank containing 200,000 human-generated recordings. It empowers users to produce royalty-free music tailored to their needs using simple natural-language prompts, allowing them to specify the style, tempo, mood, and even individual instruments. Embracing the concept of "music as code," Loudly enables deep interaction with music at a micro-level, facilitating the creation of a myriad of unique sounds. Notably, the platform holds the copyrights to all the music it's been trained on, ensuring no concerns of copyright infringements or artists feeling their original works have been misused.
AI And The Democratization Of Music Creation
Kenny strongly believes that the integration of AI into various creative tools is inevitable. He points out that AI is already influencing image generation and predicts that music creation will follow suit. Kenny anticipates that tools used for video creation and digital audio workstations will also incorporate AI features, improving user accessibility and enhancing the output.
Such advancements will provide an avenue for countless individuals who have a passion for music but might not possess the technical skills. It's an opportunity for them to express their creativity. This is a significant move in the music industry, mirroring the transformation brought about by streaming services. These platforms, such as Spotify and Soundcloud, have made music distribution accessible to everyone. As a result, a vast number of songs are being uploaded daily.
Kenny describes the forthcoming phase as the "era of mass creativity," which has already commenced. He wonders about the future of this era and its implications for traditional artists. He introduces the term "AI-first artists" to describe the new generation of creatives who will leverage AI's capabilities. These artists can use AI-based music creation tools to produce music, design synthetic artist profiles, and even fabricate their entire career narrative. With emerging technologies like mixed reality, they might also host live performances.
So, while that may give us mere mortals a chance to live out our dreams of becoming synthetic pop stars, what about actual artists who already have the technical skills to create music but want to supercharge them with AI?
Kenny illustrates the potential here with an example from the past—when Bob Dylan famously went against convention by playing an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. For his attempts to innovate, he was jeered and booed by conventionalists. But the occasion is now celebrated as a pioneering moment in the history of popular music.
Kenny remarks that the artist's decision was contentious. By stepping away from traditional methods and embracing new technology, the artist yielded to the allure of innovation and creativity. This move allowed him to tap into a new genre, reach a broader audience, and employ an enhanced toolkit. It also enabled him to refine his story and musical legacy, which, according to Kenny, enriched our musical history.
The theory encapsulates Kenny’s ideas about how music—and creativity in general—will evolve as new tools and technology come onto the scene. It’s what’s happened throughout history, after all. So it makes sense that AI, perhaps the most revolutionary new “toolkit” of all time, will have a similarly transformative effect. Right?
Of course, despite the hype, excitement and optimism, we certainly shouldn’t ignore the fact that there are many people out there who are concerned that AI might impact music and creativity in less positive ways.
This is hardly surprising as the emergence of AI, and generative AI in particular, has prompted fears ranging from a decline in demand for humans in creative jobs to a “dumbing down” effect on culture stemming from a surge of AI-generated art.
Kenny speculates that the willingness to use AI tools could be influenced by age. He references surveys indicating that younger individuals, particularly those aged 16 to 25, are more inclined to use AI as an initial point of interaction to understand processes, such as identifying high-quality writing or determining the structure of a well-crafted song.
For those who might be hesitant, potentially from older generations, Kenny's main advice is not to shy away. Instead of fearing or avoiding the technology, he suggests embracing challenges and venturing into the unknown. By actively exploring, they can demystify AI for themselves.
He says, “Be like Bob Dylan, you know, pick up that electric guitar and plug it into your amplifier to hear what your music sounds like.”
You can click here to watch my webinar interview with Rory Kenny, founder and CEO of Loudly, in full, where we cover more questions about AI and the future of music, as well as look at his plans for how the service will evolve.
You can read more about future tech and business trends in my books, The Future Internet: How the Metaverse, Web 3.0, and Blockchain Will Transform Business and Society, Future Skills: The 20 Skills And Competencies Everyone Needs To Succeed In A Digital World and Business Trends in Practice, which won the 2022 Business Book of the Year award. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on X (Twitter), LinkedIn and YouTube for more on the future trends in business and technology.