We’re Already Bored of AI Pop Music. And That Might be Dangerous

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We have officially entered the uncanny valley of fully AI generated content. Sora, a video generator from OpenAI, can make any style of video from a prompt. Type a sentence, and get the result as a video.

The results are, frankly, stunning. It’s utterly convincing half the time, especially in aerial drone-style shots, which are indistinguishable from the real thing. Humans, animals, and other complex moving subject matter is a little hit and miss – but some examples are ridiculously good. And considering this was the best that AI generated video could muster just a year ago, the future of this tech is all but sealed.

It’s going to be everywhere. We now live in a world where pretty soon, CGI artists, actors, camera and drone operators, writers, score composers – and even on-location shoots – are a thing of the past.

The implications for the creative sector as a whole are as frightening as they are promising. Sure, production of even large-scale blockbusters can be accomplished by tiny teams, with the weight of the work outsourced to an AI.

But thousands of creative jobs, possibly all of them, are under threat. And given that AI influencers are a thing now, even the film stars of the future might be fake.

Are we right to be worried about all this – when the creators of AI have assured us the world will become a utopia, with universal basic income giving us all the spare time to… perfect our arts? Arts that obviously won’t matter because AI is doing a better job?

Call us sceptical, but at least in the short-term, AI is yet another cash-grabbing, power-consolidating technology. Much like the web 2.0 and crypto eras before it, AI stands to make a few people very rich in a very short time. And the rest of us?

To hell with us seems to be the overall attitude.

Doom and gloom might be the outlook we’re painting here, but we promise we’ll brighten things up in a bit. In fact, if you’re reading this, you’re probably part of the solution. But first – let’s talk specifically about AI pop music, and whether jobs on the music industry are at threat, too.

What about AI pop music?

Audio or compositions of pop and rock music are far simpler to generate than those of video – time, timbre, pitch, amplitude… We’ve had arpeggiators and drum machines doing this for us for decades. Putting them all together, tied up with an AI generating midi files “in the style of [insert pop act] is, by today’s standards, actually kind of easy.

Read more: “A Grotesque Mockery” – Is AI-generated Music a Step Too Far?

The variables of making pop music are comparatively few, compared to having to fully reconstruct physics to make a convincing video.

And because it’s easier to make, AI music is already everywhere. You’ve heard it on YouTube videos, TikTok, Facebook ads, maybe even on TV. You just probably aren’t fully aware of its origin. 

It has passed you by, because it has all the impact of a simple decoration – like a picture hanging on the wall. It doesn’t really do anything – but it’s there, adding to the vibe. You wouldn’t know if it was spat out by a machine or lovingly crafted by a person. You’d only notice if it were gone altogether.

There are fans of it – particularly when AI does Drake or The Weeknd, or The Beatles. And as a novelty, it’s quite cool. But it can only make what it’s prompted to make, and it can only draw on past compositions.

And maybe that’s true of people too. We’re inspired by the giants whose shoulders we stand on.

But AI doesn’t know how to generate counterculture, progressive, groundbreaking work. And even if you told it to, it would just regurgitate the old stuff it’s been fed. We won’t get another Hunter S. Thompson, Grace Jones, Andy Warhol, Vivienne Westwood, Sex Pistols – or any other revolutionary artistic output from AI.

And here’s the problem. This is the danger of AI music. Stagnation, sameness, boredom – humans mimicking machines to stay successful.

It could become our cultural deletion.

The sameness of AI music has already created a new wave of muzak for the TikTok generation – elevator music without an elevator.

We are already bored of the same “chill vibes” soundtracks to influencer videos, “ambient music 10hrs” playlists on YouTube – we are numb and immune to what was once one of our strongest emotional triggers.

But in this state of numbness, there’s hope.

A 21st century artistic Renaissance 

There’s a new Renaissance in art and music that’s more analogue, and shuns artifice. And it’s being led not by crusty old boomers and Gen X-ers, but by the online generations; millennials and Gen Z – those most comfortable and capable with AI.

The polaroid, analogue 90s aesthetic is back in style. Imperfection is a sign of authenticity and vulnerability. And what matters most to these generations is authenticity – whether or not AI was involved in the creation of a work.

If the creative impulse that triggered it was authentic, they will embrace it.

And while live shows and performances aren’t untouched by AI, they’re still human-led and authentic experiences that people can have in person.

This human-first approach is all that really counts.

We’ve had machines making music and art for decades. Today, they’re just faster at getting to the finish line. It’s the starting gun that we need to focus on, that innate human need to create.

As long as we have it, we’ll still be in control of art and music.

Urban Rebel – pop music PR 

Urban Rebel does pop music PR for the most exciting emerging talent and established acts.

Contact us: call +44 (0) 161 298 6650 or send your message to [email protected].