Will Computers Someday Replace Artists and Musicians?

Many people worry that artificial intelligence, abbreviated AI, will one day replace humans, even in creative areas such as composing music. In a step in that direction, YouTuber Taryn Southern has created a song with the help of AI software.

Southern’s inspiration came from an article about Sony programmers who tried to compose a new Beatles song using AI. In January 2017, Southern began downloading programs that claimed to write songs from scratch.

These programs work by analyzing songs similar to the one they are asked to create. She asked one of the programs to use Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” as inspiration for a reggae song. Southern didn’t think the program’s song was very good, although she noted a recognizable bounce in the baseline.

In another attempt, Southern wrote original lyrics and a melody for a ballad she called Break Free. After telling her computer the song’s mood, tempo and instrumentation, the program produced the songs backing track. The song, created from her lyrics and the programs background music, was a successful human-AI collaboration.

According to Southern, it takes a lot of fine-tuning and human guidance to make an acceptable song using AI software. Southern is currently collaborating with companies who developed the software in order to improve the program. Southern thinks there will be legal issues of song ownership in the future if more musicians start using AI. Programmers who write the software code may argue for some of the songs royalties as well. In Southern’s case, she gave the software company Amper some of the money she made after releasing the “Break Free”.

In the near future, Southern plans to release more songs made using AI. She is even working on an album, called I Am AI, which will be released some time this year. While some artists worry that AI will one day replace them, AI may just become another tool for musicians. “It requires a fair amount of human collaboration.” Southern said, “You can't just press a button and create magic.”

[Sources: BBC News; YouTube]