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How AI unlocks areas of the music industry

By Kevin Zhang April 7, 2022

Beomhee Kim Art

Uncertain about how to best articulate emotionally resonant lyrics, a songwriter scraps another draft of their current project, turning instead to a sentence randomizer app on their laptop. Entrusting artificial intelligence (AI) to generate lyrical inspiration seems counterintuitive, given the subjective nature of songwriting, but several artists have nonetheless facilitated their experimental process with this technology. A time-consuming and creativity-demanding task, songwriting requires singers to consider genre, meaning and personality, as well as listener response. Recent AI programs have served as the springboard for creating lyrics and other song elements.

AI’s implementation in music began before its commercial ubiquity. Vice reports that in 1995, rock musician David Bowie used his own custom digital lyric randomizer to guide him in writing his song “Hallo Spaceboy.” The program relied on the “cut-up technique”—dismembering sentences of a certain excerpt and rearranging the fragments to produce a different meaning.

AI was able to memorialize musical artists who died relatively young

Boasting its versatility, AI was able to memorialize musical artists who died relatively young, including Jim Morrison and Amy Winehouse. Rolling Stone states that in 2021, mental health organization Over the Bridge employed Google’s music AI program, Magenta, to pay tribute to famed singers silenced by tragedy. It analyzed the compositional styles of artists’ previous songs to recreate tracks similar in lyrical, rhythmic and melodic fusions. Yet, even with AI’s assistance, musical expertise still holds the reins; lifeless technology cannot capture emotion, so it is up to the artist to create an authentic song by adding a human quality.

“I think AI’s ability to recreate songs opens up a new path within the musical industry. I think that AI replicating music of deceased artists is a good way of honoring talent, but could be negatively viewed if done poorly. However, the intent in celebrating an artist is something I find admirable,” Sophomore Nathan Shen said.

“characters appear as holograms in live performances”

Besides song creation, AI has been used as a platform for artists to release their music behind a virtual avatar. Popular multiplayer video game League of Legends re-dimensioned their character “Seraphine” into a virtual popstar that leads what seems to be a physical existence through a fictional social media presence. Her online music career is voiced by an actual singer who simultaneously maintains real-life anonymity and a dynamic social media persona; she is able to release music while concealing her true identity. Alternatively, music producers use “vocaloid” software to self-produce songs with not human, but computer-generated vocals, which are personified as Japanese animated characters. These characters appear as holograms in live performances, according to Virtual Humans. Vocaloid Hatsune Miku’s far-reaching fanbase not only testifies for AI’s potential in the music industry, but also the idea that musical legacies can be created with symbolic abstractions rather than single persons.

AI Music, an app bought by Apple, adjusts the music playing to match the user’s current mood by measuring factors such as heart rate and temperature.

On the other side of the singer-listener relationship, AI has applications for the audience as well. Bloomberg states that AI Music, an app bought by Apple, adjusts the music playing to match the user’s current mood by measuring factors such as heart rate and temperature. A higher pulse and temperature during workouts could call for energizing, upbeat music, while more moderate levels could indicate relaxation or studying, resulting in lofi-esque music. To suit users’ fluctuating preferences, music streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora operate with intelligent systems that record listening enjoyment, which is then used to customize recommended songs. Spotify also personalizes a playlist called Discover Weekly, regularly updated to fit the genres of the user’s recent listening history.

“The anonymous aspect of vocaloids benefits singers who want to debut before revealing anything about themselves. Since their appearance is not revealed, they can create music without worrying over being judged for their physical image. A good example of this is Yonezu Kenshi, who started his musical career using vocaloids and was able to garner a large fanbase while staying anonymous,” Senior Tabito Sakamoto said.

AI has impacted music in multiple ways, from recreating the lost sounds of late singers, generating lyrics ideas or personalizing recommendations for listeners. But its development is yet to arrive at its coda—music is a bifurcating garden of both new and old horizons, giving AI the space to “remaster” new generations of artists and songs.


About the Contributors

Kevin Zhang

Staff Writer

Kevin Zhang is a junior at Leland High School. He is indeed clinically sane, although his actions might occasionally suggest otherwise. In his free time, he enjoys playing video games, blood rituals, reading, and watching the sunset.

Beomhee Kim

Art Director

Beomhee Kim is a senior at Leland High School and the Art Director for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys drawing, listening to music, and spending time with her friends.

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