With the latest advancements in AI technology, such as ChatGPT and Midjourney, many people are starting to grasp what these tools can signify for our futures. Automation has always been a looming threat to jobs, but the consensus was that creative work would always be safe. Now things are starting to change, and it’s clear that nobody is absolutely secure. Especially musicians.
Hi, this is Ramiro Somosierra from GearAficionado, an online music magazine. I also have a Master’s Degree in Applied Economics, and I’m particularly interested in the effects of computerization on labor.
In this article, I will discuss what the future might look like for music creators and some actionable ways to stay relevant, even when machines take over.
Let’s get to it!
This Has Happened Before Elsewhere
To understand what the future might bring for the music industry, it’s a good idea to study what has already happened in other sectors. For instance, in the early 1900s, the horse was the preferred medium of transportation, and many businesses depended on this animal. When the automobile started gaining popularity and demand shifted away from livestock, it was natural that workers from horse-related industries started panicking.
However, what happened is that due to the increased productivity of the car, the amount of business it generated significantly offset those lost by leaving the horse behind. With the resources generated by the efficiency of cars and motor vehicles, many new industries were born. Of course, some people had difficulty adapting to this new reality. But the majority of workers laid off sooner or later found new activities.
Another interesting example is that of ATMs in the 90s. Since the popularization of these machines, most bank employees have been tellers. Depositing and withdrawing cash was done by hand and through personal interaction.
When ATMs flooded the market, most tellers were unemployed or relocated to different positions within the financial entities.
But the thing is, as Automatic Teller Machines made bank branches way cheaper to run, due to them requiring fewer employees, many more locations started opening across the country. By the end of the decade, bank jobs not only didn’t decline in number, but they even grew.
You Can Merely Automate Tasks
An important point to remark on while discussing automation and work is that you can only automate tasks, not whole positions. Computers and robots will be way better than humans at performing specific tasks. Still, when these duties are taken over, people can start focusing on higher-level responsibilities or even new things to emerge.
Technology Democratizes Music
Now, focusing on the music industry, let me go through two other very important moments for the business. First, introducing the digital workstation led to the ubiquity of home studios. Until then, recording music was a task that could only be performed professionally in a costly and exclusive environment. Records took weeks to make, and the process was way more cumbersome than we have today.
Home studios made making music available to many people, and with more music out there, the industry inevitably grew. The second important moment for me is the popularization of Autotune and Melodyne.If DAWs democratized recording, pitch-correcting software would do the same for singing. And yes, you can’t fake a Freddy Mercury performance, but anyone can create listenable tunes with these tools.
And so much so that the whole culture shifted towards styles of music where the sound of these enhancers is natural and even expected.
AI Will Further Democratize Music
Artificial Intelligence tools will ultimately have an effect similar to home studios and vocal enhancers. More people can enter the scene, such as composers, performers, lyricists, promoters, marketers, or any other role where they could take advantage of the new technology.
Actual musicians will also benefit from the advancements, and if they implement them into their workflows, they will be able to take their craft to the next level. The important here is learning how to live together with the robots rather than be mad at them.
The future is taking us in a specific direction; the best thing we can do is enjoy the ride.