Music Industry

Is this the future of music? Jeebus, I hope not.

I’m in the midst of preparing for a TEDx talk in Winnipeg on the topic of the symbiotic relationship between music and technology. But when Bobby sent me this article on the possible future of music, I stopped dead in my tracks.

Business Insider reports on a fireside chat at Creative Destruction Lab’s Super Session event. Vinod Khosla, a billionaire venture capitalist, was asked for his opinion on music. He came back with this: “I actually think 10 years from now, you won’t be listening to music.”

Say again?

Khosla thinks we’ll be listening to “custom song equivalents” that are created by AI for individual listening preferences and tailored for each person’s brain. In other words, bespoke music for each of us composed by machines.

I can see why he’s thinking along these lines. There are new stories about the strides made in the field of AI-created music every month. And then consider all the mood- and activity-based playlists already available on Spotify, Apple, Google, and YouTube. Granted, these songs are composed by humans, but with enough data points combined with machine learning…

And then there’s the financial incentive. How much cheaper would it be for, say, Spotify, to play machine-made music than having to pay all those pesky meatbag composers? This might be a way for a streaming music service to drastically reduce their licensing costs. Spotify is already getting around that by offering podcasts (no licensing costs while still retaining listeners!) and its foray into custom playlists featuring newscasts.

And consider Endel, a German app with a deal with Warner Bros. It parses personal data including your location, the time of day, and even the weather to create appropriate soundscapes.

What if you were also add something like a headset that can tape into your brainwaves? See where this is going?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38168 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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