AI in music is a tool, not a replacement

Emerging tech will certainly put some musicians out of business (if it hasn’t already). But humans in the arts are here to stay.

Jared Wolf


A popular podcast did a segment the other day about emerging technologies in music. The conversation centered around AI’s role in music, and the inevitable threat it presents to creatives. They seemed to think AI could one day replace musicians.

It got me thinking about the future of the music industry. How will robots and humans evolve with musical creation, consumption and performance?

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Computers making music

If you didn’t already know, computers know how to make music. In fact, computers knew how to sing 50 years ago.

Today, AI can write full compositions. As a musician, it is admittedly hard to tell the difference between your favorite composer and a well-funded software tool. And I’m not talking about an EDM instrumental track.

We’re talking about a brand new, original Beethoven symphony, or another Beatles album. These machines use historical data sets and neural networks to recognize patterns and produce novel compositions.

Let me explain.

If we decided to input thousands of hours worth of audio tapes from Lennon, Harrison, McCartney, and Starr, and blasted it into a computer, the AI could shoot out it’s very own Beatles album like it was 1967 again.

That includes lyrics and song titles, which are their own data set of words and replicable patterns, just like music notes.

Every song, every composition, no matter how innovative or genius it is, has a recognizable pattern.

What does it all have in common? A rhythm, a melody, an accompaniment, vocals, instruments. In fact, most modern songs even have their own common structure:

Intro, verse, pre-chorus, chorus (or refrain), verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge (“middle eight”), verse, chorus and outro.

Pick your favorite pop or rock song off your shuffle playlist, and it is more than likely that your song follows that very structure.