How AI technology is revolutionising the world of music

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AI technologies are seemingly advancing day by day, with companies all over the world utilising them for a host of purposes. We recently spoke to Jessica Powell, CEO and Co-Founder of Audioshake, an AI technology that breaks music down into its stems, about the role of AI technology in the world of music.

What were you doing before you co-founded Audioshake, and what were the reasons behind forming the company?

I ran Google’s global communications department and was on the company’s management team. I left because I wanted to do something more creative. My co-founder and I are both musicians, and we wanted to build something that could help musicians and the music industry make more money for their work.

What are stems and why are they so important for the future of the music industry?

Stems are the component parts of a song–for example, the vocal stem that might be used to create a remix, or the sum of the instrument stems, which can be used as an instrumental in a movie. There are tons of uses for stems–remixes, spatial audio, VR/AR, gaming, and all kinds of new uses in social media that are only starting to emerge. Creatively, they also offer up all kinds of opportunities for artists, producers, and songwriters, to re-imagine their work and introduce it to new listeners.

Aside from stems, in what other ways is Artificial Intelligence revolutionising the music business?

The vast majority of recorded music doesn’t have its stems, so for record labels and other rightsholders, it’s pretty revolutionary to be able to upload a song, and then seconds later, have the song broken into its stems. This opens up songs for entirely new uses. We’ve created stems for songs from the 1930s–and even songs from last year. Even though music is now recorded digitally, stems are still often missing.

Are there any barriers in the music industry, particularly where implementing Artificial Intelligence is concerned?

At Audioshake we are always thinking about technical challenges–for example, how to break a song into even harder instruments and sounds. But more broadly speaking, the uses of A.I. in music are wide and at various stages of readiness. A.I. can already do a lot to recognize songs, for example. But using A.I. to generate the next big pop song may still be a ways off.

What can be done to overcome these barriers?

Specific to stems, I think rightsholders should expect that the stems to their music are going to be widely available to consumers in a few years’ time, due to stem piracy. So the question they will grapple with is how to have a proactive strategy to take advantage of consumers wanting to remix and reinvent their favorite songs. Audioshake partners with labels and artists to make sure they are armed with their stems and can decide how best to distribute it in the future.

How has the music industry changed in the past 10 years?

I think the industry has learned a lot from the transformation to digital. Stem piracy is on the rise, but I’d be surprised to see the industry take exactly the same approach as they did with song piracy on Napster, where they seemed to largely view it as a litigation challenge rather than as a market challenge. I think people are much more open to experimenting with new ways to distribute content both to licensees and your average consumer.

Has Audioshake been affected by the pandemic? If so, what have you done to get around these challenges?

While the pandemic certainly presented challenges, in some ways it was much easier to connect with music companies as people were more open to remote meetings. We were lucky in that for most of 2020 we were still building our software, so we were not as susceptible to the ways that the pandemic likely affected our customers’ budgets.

What are your future plans for Audioshake?

Right now we are really focused on helping music businesses create their stems and start opening new revenue for their songs. But we are already thinking of how we can help them get more mileage from their stems, and reach new audiences as well.

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