The Menace of Generative Music
Deeply provocative post. I was struck by the thought that Spotify could adopt an Amazon model fairly easily — viz., use their own analytics to track which songs by real artists are at any moment attracting streams and have generators produce simulacrums that enter the algorithms or playlists with a little extra heat. Since these generated songs would be "owned" by Spotify, the company wouldn't have to pay out for those streams that would, invariably, eat away at listens that might otherwise accrue to real musicians.
This move would be utterly evil, but they have little incentive NOT to be evil. The major labels might even be on board with such a practice, as it might increase the perceived value of their catalogs full of music from real human beings.
Great article. As one of the independent artists receiving less than 1000 streams a month, I can add a tiny bit of insight. I know a number of songwriters and musicians, some quite talented, and for them to achieve even a modest number of spins, they have to hire a promoter to get their songs playlisted. It’s pay to play, roughly $1000 per song, and there is little hope of a return on investment. And those plays may well be passive and not generate a fan of your original music. The flood of 100,000 daily uploads comes mostly from people who are paying distributors like Distrokid and Tunecore to have their songs heard. So the market has flipped, and it is the musicians who pay the listeners to hear their recordings. This was already in motion before the recent advent of AI generative music, because of the sheer volume permitted by digital streaming distribution for 20 bucks a year. However, excepting the devastating impacts of the pandemic on touring, live music survives. I can still get paying gigs and AI hasn’t taken that away. Yet. Last point, it seems that all artistic endeavors that can be represented and distributed electronically are being devalued by AI generative substitutes. Music, visual art, photographs, film (my cousin is a Hollywood screenwriter, currently on strike with major concerns re the impact of artificial intelligence on story and script generation, as well as directing and acting). Even weddings and parties, cornerstones of human interaction, can be experienced virtually, without the warmth of a true embrace. My hope is that consumers will, like JP Sousa, see the value and creativity within real in-person experience, and see the generative media for what it is. A tool.
Extremely well written, the ending in particular fucked me up. I'm going to ask my mom what music she likes.
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