How AI Is Transforming the Music Industry
See how AI is transforming the music industry.
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Anyone that remembers buying a copy of Rumors by Fleetwood Mac on vinyl, cassette, CD, mini disc, and digital download will testify that the music industry has always continuously evolved, usually at the expense of fans. Thankfully, the days of repeatedly purchasing the same album over ten years are long gone. But this doesn't mean that the brave new world of music streaming can stand still and fail to adapt to its user's continuously changing tastes and rise in expectations.
Since its arrival in 2008, Spotify has built a platform enjoyed by 200 million active users who are enjoying instant access to around 40 million music tracks. According to the Spotify website, it has become the music industry's single most significant driver of revenue. But in a digital world where anyone can record their own content, the industry and our needs as users are changing.
At the heart of Spotify's success is user-generated content. Carefully curated and shared playlists are one of the big reasons why some will refuse to migrate to other services such as Apple Music. But many users are expanding their horizons and are choosing to learn and enhance their knowledge by listening to podcasts rather than the trending top ten songs in their country again.
However, if we look a little closer, it’s easy to see that technology is transforming every element of the music industry from the creation process, delivery, promotion, and consumption of audio content. It’s easy to dismiss artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), machine learning, and blockchain as another round of tech buzzwords. But it’s much more than that.
How AI Is Transforming the Creative Process
AI artist and filmmaker, Taryn Southern turned to emerging technologies to enhance the entire creative process. Her album, I AM AI leveraged AI software including Amper Music, IBM’s Watson Beat, Google’s NSynth, and AIVA. But Taryn was just getting started with the digital transformation of the creative process.
The accompanying music videos for Taryn's singles used AR, VR, and 360° video technology too. Not content with creating the first solo artist and AI collaboration, Taryn also went on to create a blockchain anthem that was the first song to be tokenized with Ethereum smart contracts.
Over 240 people were able to collaborate on lyrics and own a portion of the song. Every participant received royalties from the track's sales and streams through the Trust Token, which was then delivered to their Ethereum wallet. We often read how technology is encouraging global collaboration in the workplace. But Taryn has proved the artistic possibilities of introducing AR, VR, AI, and smart contracts into every stage of the creative process.
The Rise of the AI DJ
Pandora's Music suggestions, Spotify's discovery weekly, and JioSaavn's mixes features are all examples of how media streaming companies are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to build powerful personalized features. There are over 300k songs uploaded to the internet every day. Unfortunately, up to 99 percent of them go undiscovered merely because they are off the radar of music fans or often just miscategorized.
Algorithms can help cluster the songs that match our listening preferences and scale it for millions of users. There are applications (for ex: muru music) that are taking personalization to a whole new level by claiming to be the first AI DJ brain. These apps have leveraged technology to learn the art of being a good DJ and translate the craft into a series of algorithms and rule sets. They enable any user to generate personalized playlists within seconds by simply connecting their streaming service of choice and selecting genres and artists as a beginning and ending point. Although the mixtape is just a distant memory, the art of perfectly tailored music experiences is being kept alive by a new breed of AI-driven DJs.
How Spotify Has Evolved From a Music Service to a Streaming Business
In a world where digital natives are feeling guilty about not having the time to read, podcasts and audiobooks are enabling people to learn during the so-called dead time in our daily routine. The commute to the office, the dreaded gym session, walking the dog or even your household chores can all be transformed into learning opportunities. But what do these changes mean to music streaming services such as Spotify?
Spotify raised a few eyebrows when they spent over $430 million acquiring Gimlet, Anchor, and Parcast in a podcasting shopping spree. The company also advised they expect further deals will take their spending up to between $400 and $500 million this year. It's clear that Spotify has set its sights on evolving from merely being a music service to a streaming business.
The creative process and distribution of music is just the beginning of how the music industry is continuing to evolve at breakneck speed. Our playlists are now carefully curated by virtual DJs, and the global community can collaborate seamlessly to create albums that can be enjoyed all over the world.
However, our love of audio is not restricted to music alone. The rise of unique and authentic user-generated content is forcing music streaming services to promote podcasts and audiobooks too. It is often said that technology works best when it brings people together and learning from people's stories, and experiences on the commute to the office is a perfect example of just that.
If we look back to 1877 when Thomas Edison first invented the phonograph and follow the journey that got us here, it's easy to see that the music industry is much bigger than a Spotify or Apple Music subscription. Technology has always driven innovation and helped the industry evolve to what it is today. But I have a feeling we are just getting started.
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