Will Technology Ever Replace Musicians?

robot on piano

No matter how cool it might sound to have a robot as your bass player, you have to admit there would be something a little eerie about having an autonomous droid on stage in front of thousands of fans. But with AI taking over jobs all over the world, will musicians’ careers ever come under threat?

In truth, technology has been part of music for quite some time now. Drum machines, synthesizers, and even the pedals we use on our guitars have been helping us create our own distinct sounds and tunes for years. Hell, we even have auto-tune to thank for the many, many less-than-talented ‘stars’ we hear on the radio day in and day out.

In reality, this tech does nothing more than help us either find our own voice and sound or enhance our talents. But what if technology evolved in such a way that AI could create music without the direction of us humans? We never thought we’d see driverless cars, but it’s all over the news right now. Is music next?

While the likelihood of robots replacing drivers is ridiculously high at 97.8%, we’re not quite sure that musicians need to worry too much just yet. Last year Sony released a song that was entirely composed by artificial intelligence. And while it’s by no means an amazing tune, it’s not entirely dreadful either.

Sony’s Flow Machines software just needed a style (they chose The Beatles), and off it went composing away and coming up with something that certain people may actually find appealing. Composer Benoît Carré wrote the lyrics, but it’s strangely unsettling to listen to the melodies created by algorithms working away on one of the computers at Sony HQ.

The worrying thing about all this is that our ability to create masterpieces and original works of art is what sets us apart from all other life on Earth, even artificial intelligence. The arts (and music, in particular) have always been the one thing that was sacred — the one thing that we could do that nothing could imitate. In fact, many people couldn’t even manage it right. Just look at all the writers it took to create Beyonce’s ‘Who runs the world?’, and it’s still a terrible song.

Yet now, following Sony’s foray into the realm of AI music, are we on the verge of an industry-changing moment? Nope, not at all. You see, music (and all art for that matter) is about communication. The artist wants to convey a feeling or tell a story, and the audience wants to hear it or feel it. We’re all music fans, and as fans, we want a connection with the band or musician that we are listening to. We want to wonder how they felt when they wrote that song or what they meant by those lyrics. What we don’t want is music with no soul. People use the word robotic in negative terms for a reason, you know.

Here at Prog-sphere, we’re all for new ideas and bending the so-called rules of songwriting; we are progressive, after all. But allowing AI to create the music that we listen to is taking things a step too far. Sure, you can drive our cars, build our phones, and even make our coffees, but you’ll never make our music. So, to all the composers out there toying with the idea of jumping on board the AI bandwagon, we say this: Don’t do it! Music is our soul, and without it, we’re nothing but machines.

Cover photo: Wikimedia

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