From Yona to Miquela: AI Artists Are On The Rise
Black Mirror may have given the music industry an idea or two with its episode featuring Miley Cyrus. In the episode, Miley plays Ashley O: a pop-star with limited creative control over her songs and appearance. Later on, we see a comatose Ashley O in a hospital bed wearing a helmet that’s able to extract her musical dreams. Her dreams get stitched together, are layered with voice recordings, and become full-blown pop songs.
What’s truly mind-boggling about this episode is that it’s not too far removed from what’s been happening within the music industry over the past few years. There have already been a number of AI-generated songs put out by AI personalities.
At first glance, the following AI personalities could easily pass for real human beings with their ultra life-like complexions and expressions. Meet Yona and Miquela.
Yona is an auxiliary human (auxuman), a virtual person powered by AI and digital technologies. Much of her lyrics, voice, chords and melodies are created by software, which are then mixed and mastered into a final product by her human creator. Yona’s lyrics are based on text generated by models which are trained on articles, poems, and conversations related to the subject of a song.
Miquela is a 19-year-old Brazilian-American model, musical artist, and influencer with 1.8M Instagram followers. She has released more than a handful of songs which have amassed millions of streams. In addition to her music career, Miquela has an active YouTube channel with almost 100K subscribers where she posts her music videos, interviews with celebrities like popular Latin artist J Balvin, vlogs, and more.
So Why Use AI When Creating Music?
There are a number of advantages to using humanoid artists:
1. They are immortal and untouchable, immune to sickness and accidents. These artists are able to go on tour 24/7, risk-free of coming down with a head cold or any kind of burnout which could lead to longer tour schedules.
2. New music could be produced with quick turnarounds as machines are able to create music in a fraction of the time. There is an entire industry built around these services that create AI-based music, including IBM’s Waston Beat to Google’s NSynth Super.
3. The use of AI when creating music could result in diversified musical compositions and lyrical generation. The ability to break down compositions to a granular level to get a specific sound down to the exact note becomes possible, which could lead to new genres as well.
What Are The Concerns of Using AI?
As with everything regarding the use of AI, issues of ethical concerns and drawbacks are prevalent with these bionic artists:
1. The question of rights and ownership of music: do the software companies creating these musical arrangements have as many rights as the “artists” releasing the music? As seen with the debate over robot citizenship in Saudi Arabia, drawing the line between humans and robots can blur lines regarding rights of property and rights to exist in the human world.
2. These electronic personalities run the risk of human civilization reaching “singularity,” or the hypothetical future point in time when technological growth becomes so advanced and irreversible that human beings will no longer be the most intelligent beings on earth. This moral dilemma has been shown multiple times in Hollywood in popular TV shows and movies like Westworld and Her.
Like Ashley O in Black Mirror, robot musicians pose an interesting potential regarding the future of the music industry. As machine-learning capabilities become more and more sophisticated, this sci-fi fantasy could realistically become a norm within our society.