Music Business

What I Learned About The Future Of Music By Playing Around With AI Lyrics Generation

As AI technology continues to develop, questions are being raised in the music business over what kind of impact it will have on the industry, and whether it could eventually replace flesh and blood songwriters entirely. Here Bas Grasmayer helps answer some of these questions via his recent experimentation with AI lyric generation.


Guest post by Bas Grasmayer of Music x Tech x Future

Will AI replace human artists? What would the implications be? These questions grip many in the music business and outside of it. This weekend I decided to explore some lyric generation apps and see what I could get out of them – learning a thing or two about the future of music along the way.

Below I’ve posted the most coherent lyrics I managed to get out of one AI tool. I’m dubbing the song Purple Sun.

Image with a purple sun
What I imagine the song’s artwork to look like.

You can make the sun turn purple
You can make the sea into a turtle

You can turn wine into water
Turn sadness into laughter

Let the stars fall down
Let the leaves turn brown

Let the rainwoods die
Let wells run dry

I love the turtle line. I guess the algorithm struggled with rhyming purple.

Two lines down is a wine / water line. Initially I was impressed by having a western cultural reference. But hold up… turning wine into water? That’s just evil.

Read it over once more. Or twice. By reading it over more, I became convinced that obviously humans are the superior songwriters.

But you know what, I’ve been lying to you.

The origins of the above lyrics are actually human, from a 90s rave song called Love U More by DJ Paul Elstak.

And they carry meaning. A lot of meaning to a whole generation of people in The Netherlands and other parts of Europe. Myself included. The meaning comes not necessarily from what the intent of the lyrics is. It comes from the music, nostalgia, memories, associations.

This is listener-assigned meaning. As soon as you release music, you give over control of the narrative to an audience. Artistic intent may have a lot of sway, but sometimes a song that’s a diatribe against fame turns into something stadiums full of drunk people chant.

A few statements to consider:

  1. AI has a role as a tool to be used by people to apply their creativity.
  2. Not all successful human created art objectively requires a lot of skill.
  3. Creativity doesn’t end with the creator. The creator sets intent, the listener assigns meaning.

Let’s pair #1 and #3. In the first statement I talk about people, rather than mention specific roles as in the thrid statement. That’s because AI allows more people to be creative, either as listener, creator, or the space in between.

It’s this space in between that will be impacted and shaped by AI. Think of the dadabots projects, such as their infinite neural network generated death metal stream, apps like JAMJambl, and Endlesss which allow people to express themselves musically in easy ways, or technologies that turn music into something more adaptive like Bronze and FLUENT (disclaimer: I’m an advisor to the latter). Not all of the above use AI, but all cater to this space in between listener and creator.

The reason why I added statement #2 is because AI-created music doesn’t necessarily have to be objectively good. Music is subjective. Its sucess depends on how well it can involve the listener. That’s why AI is destined to be the most important force for the future of music in a more creative world.

Credits for the lyrics above: Lucia Holm / Paul Carnell. Thank you for the wondrous energy, the memories, the music.

Image via Rising Sun.

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