How AI is changing music forever

Musicians and technologists Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst discuss the AI music revolution and the critical importance of artist consent in building this new future
“What does it mean to be an artist when anybody can create as you?” Mat Dryhurst asked Freethink’s Melanie Bencosme in a recent interview in the Berlin studio he shares with his partner Holly Herndon.

“Do you say, ‘Nobody should be able to create as me, and I’m gonna shut this down’?” he continued. “Or do you lean into it and say, ‘Let’s acknowledge that this is now a thing, and see how far we can take it’?”

That provocative question is at the white hot center of the debate artists around the world are having about the rise of new generative AI tools which promise unprecedented opportunities to democratize creativity and yet raise serious concerns over issues of consent, ownership, and control.

Holly and Mat are artists, technologists, writers, and hosts of the Interdependence podcast which explores the intersection of art, technology, and policy. A hallmark of their work is both advocating for artists in this changing landscape while also exuding excitement about what these new technologies could produce. As Mat explains, “I don’t see any conflict between being very, very excited about development and machine learning, and also being very loyal to or concerned about artist welfare. I think that to suggest that there is an inherent conflict there is to kind of foreclose a bunch of possibilities that are actually still on the table.”

We sat down with them last month to talk about these debates and explore what answers they have found through their experiments — from Holly+, an AI voice model trained on Holly’s voice that doubles as an experiment in consent in AI to the website “Have I Been Trained?”, which lets artists search for their work in major AI art systems and give artists the option to opt-in or out of their work being used in AI training.

The resulting conversation is a fascinating (and refreshingly nuanced) look at the frontier of an emerging technology from two deeply thoughtful creative minds.

AI predicts hit songs based on listeners’ heartbeats
A new AI predicts hit songs with 97% accuracy based on how a person’s heart beats while listening to the track.
Viewing abstract art causes notable cognitive changes
Abstract art causes the viewer to place more psychological distance between themselves and the art than with more typical works.
AI is already making “functional music” for major label artists
UMG has teamed up with an AI startup to turn its artists’ music into “soundscapes” designed to help listeners sleep, focus, and more.
Listening to the right tunes can prevent motion sickness in VR
Playing “joyful” music can reduce the symptoms of cybersickness from VR, according to a small study out of Scotland.
Will GPTs swallow NFTs?
The explosion of art made with GPTs and the new market created by NFTs will usher in a Virtual Renaissance that defines 21st century art.
Subscribe to Freethink for more great stories