Warner Music Group‘s Chinese dance label Whet Records has signed a deal with Ha Jiang, in a first major label record deal with a virtual artist. "As with any form of fame, there are stars that cross over into music. ‘Virtual idols’ won’t be any different" - Jon Serbin, the CEO of Warner Music Greater China and Head of Whet Records tells in the MBW interview.

"A voice is inherently communal. I learned how to use my voice by mimicking the people around me through language, through centuries of evolution on that, or even vocal styles. A pop music vocal is often you're kind of emulating something that came before and then performing your individuality through that kind of communal voice. So I wanted to find a way to kind of reflect that communal ownership" - experimental musician Holly Herndon says to The Fader about her audio deep-fake AI Holly+. Herndon encourages her fans to upload audio files so they can be sung in her voice. She goes into the metaphysics of it: "I mean, we've been able to kind of re-animate our dead through moving picture or through samples, but this is kind of a brand new kind of field in that you can have the person do something that they never did. It's not just kind of replaying something that they've done in the past. You can kind of re-animate them in and give them entirely new phrases that they may not have approved of in their lifetime or even for living artists that they might not approve of. So I think it opens up a kind of Pandora's box".

Berlin-based musician and sound artist Holly Herndon has released a new artificial intelligence tool Holly+, which she refers to as her “digital twin”, that allows fans to upload any polyphonic audio and receive a new version of that music sung in Herndon’s own voice. Holly+ is as much a technological and artistic experiment, as it is a response to, and embrace of, the rise of deepfake technology, The Fader reports.

The A.I. Song Contest is an international competition exploring the use of A.I. in songwriting, which started last year and uses the Eurovision Song Contest’s format for inspiration, the New York Times reports. The contest welcomed 38 entries from teams and individuals around the world working at the nexus of music and A.I. They used deep-learning neural networks — computing systems that mimic the operations of a human brain — to analyze massive amounts of music data, identify patterns and generate drumbeats, melodies, chord sequences, lyrics and even vocals. The resulting songs included punk thrash, electronic dance, and folk. After an online ceremony broadcast on Tuesday from Liège in Belgium, a judging panel led by the musician Imogen Heap and including academics, scientists and songwriters praised 'Listen to Your Body Choir' for its “rich and creative use of A.I. throughout the song".

Mashable explores the incoming reality where artificial intelligence make music. Their main idea is that the evolution of technology always included some kind of progress in music. With AI in music the plus side is - "they're never late. The downside? Creepiness, obviously".

Art-efficient intelligence
April 03, 2021

FN Meka - a robot with 9 million followers on TikTok

Factory New is a "virtual" record label with a roster comprised exclusively of virtual artists. Their first ‘signing’ is AI-powered robot rapper, FN Meka, who has 9 million followers (and over a billion views) on TikTok, MBW reports. FN Meka is voiced by a human, but everything else about him – from his lyrics to the chords and tempo underpinning his music – is based on AI. Anthony Martini, co-founder of FN, asks himself quite sensibly - “what is an ‘artist’ today? Think about the biggest stars in the world. How many of them are just vessels for commercial endeavors?”.

Toronto organization Over the Bridge has created “new” Nirvana, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, Doors songs using artificial-intelligence software to approximate their songwriting, Rolling Stone reports. In "new" Nirvana case, everything other than the vocals - the work of Nirvana tribute band frontman Eric Hogan - from the turns of phrase to the reckless guitar performance, is the work of computers. The tune, titled 'Drowned in the Sun', is part of Lost Tapes of the 27 Club, a project featuring songs written and mostly performed by machines in the styles of other musicians who died at 27: Cobain, Jimi Hendrix ('You're Gonna Kill Me'), Jim Morrison ('The Roads Are Alive'), and Amy Winehouse ('Man I Know'). Each track is the result of AI programs analyzing up to 30 songs by each artist and granularly studying the tracks’ vocal melodies, chord changes, guitar riffs and solos, drum patterns, and lyrics to guess what their “new” compositions would sound like. Over the Bridge helps members of the music industry struggling with mental illness.

Statues coming alive

South Korean companies are using artificial intelligence to make new music by dead pop stars, Korean or global. AI is being used to learn and then extrapolate the style of certain musicians, like Kim Kwang Seok, who died 25 years ago, and Freddie Mercury who is dead for 30 years now. It is part of the Korean government's push to harness the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, using technology to transform the way we live and work.

Shed Eeran coming soon...
November 09, 2020

Google and Spotify getting into deepfake music

“As a piece of engineering, it’s really impressive” - an electronic musician and academic dr Matthew Yee-Kin says to the Guardian about audio deepfakes - “they break down an audio signal into a set of lexemes of music – a dictionary if you like – at three different layers of time, giving you a set of core fragments that is sufficient to reconstruct the music that was fed in". The G in convinced, rightly so, deepfake music is set to have wide-ranging ramifications for the music industry - any company that wouldn't want to pay the market rate for using an established artist’s music, they could create their own imitation. And big companies are getting into it: Google is working on it within their Magenta Project; startup Amper Music is producing custom, AI-generated music for media content; Spotify employed François Pachet, former head of Sony Music’s computer science lab, in its AI research group...

NME's Mark Beaumont made a list of eight songs made by artificial intelligence that qualify for "the best least worst" among them. It's fake Nickelback, Strokes, Morrissey, Nirvana, etc. songs. Check out the full list here.

An artificial intelligence bot was programmed to take in all of Metallica's lyrics using Markov Chain (a computer model for a certain type of probability), and wrote an old school Metallica-styled song 'Deliverance Rides', Loudwire reports. YouTuber Funk Turkey wrote the music for it, in style on '...And Justice For All' and 'Black Album', and sang the lyrics, here's some: "I can’t believe the death of day/The dark of wretched pain/Where I see the one thousand deaths/Never free in vain".

Consequence of AI sounds
May 16, 2020

Audio deepfakes and the future of music

Stereogum jumps into the audio deepfakes wagon discussion with a long read about human creativity and the future of music generated by artificial intelligence. The story kicked off on April 30 when audio deepfakes were made public by an independent research organization out of San Francisco called OpenAI. It took recordings of real artists - Jay-Z, Elvis, the Beatles, and thousands of others - a total of 1.2 million songs, entered them into its open source model powered by a neural network, which was then given various levels of guidance and instructed to generate new works. The artificial intelligence finally made some deepfakes. General Intelligence and Pitchfork already published their takes on the story.

What will the future bring for the audio deepfakes - AI-generated imitations of human voices, Pitchfork tries to find answers in an analysis of Jay-Z deepfakes. YouTube channel called Voice Synthesis posted several Jay-Z deepfakes in April - Shakespeare’s 'To Be, Or Not to Be' soliloquy from 'Hamlet', Billy Joel’s 'We Didn’t Start the Fire', and a decade-old 4chan meme. They were removed two days after due to a copyright claim, but soon they returned. The software has to be “trained” with audio samples and text transcripts, and the actual voice is used in the creation but from there it’s all ones and zeros from the AI, so it's a legal grey zone. Musicians and fans could potentially be grappling with the weird consequences of AI voice manipulations long into the future - the P is guessing, with high probability actually.

A new new album by Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley
May 12, 2020

AI-generated fake music - so good it's nearly illegal

A great article by General Intelligence about music generated by artificial intelligence, so good it's nearly impossible to tell the difference. What these algorithms do is they analyze large collections of an artist’s songs, find patterns in the audio data that humans would correlate with hallmarks of music style, and then use those patterns to generate new audio. One such is Jukebox, an algorithmic system able to generate music - complete with lyrics - in the style of famous musicians like Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

Snafu Records is a California startup officially launched this week, with $2.9 million in seed funding, and their approach, as its founder and CEO Ankit Desai said, is using technology "to essentially turn everyone listening to music into a talent scout on our behalf". The company’s algorithms are supposedly looking at around 150,000 tracks from unsigned artists each week on services like YouTube, Instagram and SoundCloud, and evaluating them based on listener engagement, listener sentiment and the music itself - Desai said the sweet spot is to be 70 or 75% similar to the songs on Spotify’s top 200 list, so that the music sounds like what’s already popular, while also doing just enough to “break the mold”. AI should find 15 do 20 tracks per week, and then the human team gets involved.

Mom's little helper, only clever
February 11, 2020

AI in music - helps create otherwise impossible new songs

There are many musicians who feel that the onset of AI will spur a new golden era of creativity. Over the past several years, several prominent artists, like Arca, Holly Herndon, and Toro y Moi have worked with AI in order to push their music in new and unexpected directions. Musicians working with AI hope that technology will become a democratizing force and an essential part of everyday musical creation, just like with all the previous technologies.

Björk has created a generative score for the boutique Manhattan hotel Sister City, using AI tech from Microsoft to pull a selection of snippets of her favorite choral arrangements from her archive. Björk said this in a statement: "My choir archives, written over 17 years that will float through the pinball of artificial intelligence by the grid of bird migrations, clouds, aeroplanes and that voluptuous thing called barometer".

“The ideal of technology and automation should allow us to be more human and more expressive together, not replace us all together” - Holly Herndon shared her thoughts about the effects of artificial intelligence on music (urged by that silly Grimes-Zola Jesus feud). Herndon proposes that AI might be used to move towards an “interdependent” […]

Berlin-based app Engdel last week had signed a deal with Warner Music Group, becoming the first algorithm to sign with a major label. Endel uses various inputs — weather, heart rate, time of day, and person's circadian rhythms — to craft soundscapes out of stems with the intention of boosting the listener's mood, enhance focus, […]

Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence make music composition easier than ever – because a machine is doing half the work. Could computers soon do it alone? Artificial intelligence is an industry, and the utopian synergy of the experimenters’ projects will undoubtedly give way to manipulation – even outright exploitation – by commerce. You can imagine a […]