Is AI Going to Destroy Music?

Is AI going to destroy music? 

Will lyric-writing bots, and track-making bots have an orgy and put songwriters out of business?

There are two important reasons why this is a non-issue.

Reason #1

Everyone is always scared of new technology. It always seems to spell the demise of music, and then give it 10 years, and it turns out that it wasn’t the anti-christ, it was like all other technology: a tool to use, to give you an outcome that wasn’t available before.

And like most of the new technologies, it’s always the people that use it in some way that it wasn’t intended to be used that end up creating something new and beautiful.

People ridiculed Suzanna Ciani, the electronic music pioneer who invented the vocoder. David Letterman publicly made fun of her for inventing something that made “people sound goofy”. Oh, David.

Pioneers aren’t afraid of it. They embrace it, and treat it playfully like a new instrument, because that’s all it ever is.

AI is auto-tune going by a different name.

Yes – autotune can make anyone sing a perfect melody, but it turns out that humans still like hearing other humans sing, because we’re all human.

People thought T-Pain ruined music (Usher told him so to his face on an aeroplane), but you know what? He didn’t ruin music. Music is still great. And there’s so much more of it than there was before. And also? As T-Pain himself says, he didn’t get successful because of autotune. 

He got successful because he is:

  • A great singer
  • Who found and embraced a signature sound; and
  • Wrote damn good songs
  • And worked so so hard

Which leads us to…

Reason #2

People respond to art not really because of the output. The ‘thing’ itself is kind of an avatar for all of the humanness that is poured into it, which is what people really respond and connect with. 

As Man Booker Prize winning author George Saunders says, “If a work of art is overflowing with energy, and with human life and it’s been beautifully organised to contain that energy and present it, that’s actually what sends us out of the theatre or out of the book happy.”

Same is true with music. 

So please don’t worry or despair. Keep making art and writing songs. Robots can’t (yet) auto-generate human connection. In that sense, I agree with Nick Cave. In another sense, however, I do believe it is the people who embrace a new technology rather than deriding it that will end up as the new captains of the ship.

End rant.

Free Songwriter Split Sheet

Co-writing is such a creative, fun, and often essential part of songwriting; we go into great depth on it in our Udemy course, The Art of Co-Writing and Collaboration.

One part of a great collaboration is an open and honest agreement on how to share the ownership of the song’s copyright (hint hint: split it evenly if the song was essentially written from the ground up together). 

However you land on your splits, having a written document of your agreement is essential.

Here, we offer you a standard written split sheet that you can print and use in your co-writes. Make sure all co-writers sign the sheet, and retain a copy for their records.

Registering the copyright of a work is a different process, but this split sheet gives you a written record of your agreement that you can refer to when it comes time to formalising your splits when registering copyrights.

How to decide Songwriter Splits

Songwriting splits are an important part of being a professional songwriter and musician – but what is the best strategy when it comes to royalties and copyright? Well, if you’re the Red Hot Chili Peppers, just split everything evenly (hey, it’s been working for 40 years).

For in-depth discussion on how to determine songwriting splits, check out this video:

Transcript excerpt:

Songwriting splits are essentially a division of copyright. It’s where you agree on who is going to own what percentage of the song once it’s complete.

Our basic advice and our basic approach is really to start with 50/50. If you are writing a song with one other person and you’re writing the song from the ground up, you start from a basic assumption that it’s 50/50 and that basic assumption is something you do not revisit: you don’t retroactively change that depending on what happened in the co-write. When you start to quibble about the specifics retrospectively, it is the fastest way to completely end that relationship. 

It’s really important to understand that if you’re starting from the ground up, even if it feels like one person did something more than the other, in reality none of it would have happened but for both of you sitting in that room together at that moment in time. And that goes for bands co-writing as well…