The future of music

Generative AI scares music fans

December 11, 2023
music fans
Source: Leonardo AI

Key takeaways

  • IFPI reports time spent listening to music has increased from 20.1 hours recorded in 2022 to 20.7 hours, which is the record for 2023.
  • According to IFPI’s report, 57% of people say it is important that they can access music from anywhere in the world.

More than ever, the attention to music is increasing—people around the world are engaging with music. IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry), in its global report, stated that the time spent listening to music has increased from 20.1 hours recorded in 2022 to 20.7 hours, which is the record for 2023.  

20.7 hours is the equivalent of listening to an additional thirteen three-minute songs per week. As one of the biggest industries in the world, music commands a universal acceptance — music artists, to their utmost dismay, have seen local tunes turn into global hits, smashing records on the billboard and other international charts. 

In 2021, CKay, a Nigerian artist, had a long-time release song, “Nwatiti,” which grew into a global, record-breaking hit because people could easily access it and share it with friends. The song became one of the biggest songs of 2021. Evidentially, music has benefited hugely from the initiation of streaming platforms. 

In the past, streaming was as difficult as getting a camel through the eye of a needle. Now, streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple, Deezer, and Audiomack have redirected the trajectory—IFPI reported that 73% of people say they listen to music through licensed audio streaming services (subscription and ad-supported). 

Barriers broken 

Spotify had 226 million premium members globally as of the third quarter of 2023, up from 195 million in the same quarter of 2022. Over the past few years, Spotify’s subscriber base has grown significantly, more than doubling since the beginning of 2019. 

In 2022, Apple Music had 88 million subscribers, up to eight million from 2021. With 101 million users worldwide in 2023—a 14.7% increase or 13 million more users than the previous year—Apple Music is accessible in 167 countries.

Music is incredibly important to people’s lives. According to IFPI’s report, 57% of people say it is important that they can access music from anywhere in the world. On average, fans worldwide listened to more than eight different genres of music. Looking back at some of the biggest songs in 2022, 2021, and 2020, the technological nuances of streaming platforms have undoubtedly reduced the barriers that deny the entire world of sophisticated music like Afrobeat, Amapiano, and so on. 

Technology has music on its shoulders. And like a toddler, music jiggles in the warmth of rest and support that it gets on the shoulders of technology. Several issues in the music industry are getting resolved via structures rolled into the shore by technology. Piracy was one of the prevalent bumps in the throat of music-making and distribution in the past. Now, it is a linen that has lost relevance due to technology. 

While the previous problems dowsed their flames, new ones emerged through the unattended loopholes in the advancement of technology. IFPI reported that 29% of people use unlicensed or illegal ways to listen to or obtain music. 

Frances Moore, IFPI Chief Executive, said,

“The use of unlicensed music remains a significant issue for the music community, especially as technologies continue to evolve. We need to continue to do everything in our power to support and protect the value of music.”

Music still has a long way to go as it persists in its deliberate adoption of technological and modern nuances, which has become a contentious debate in recent times. Where unlicensed music blotches the music industry’s embellishment, fans are gradually repelling its unabashed acceptance of generative AI in the art and act of music creation and distribution. 

Generative AI lacks authenticity

Artificial Intelligence is the gallantry of 21st-century charge, the town’s talk for 2023. In the music industry, critics agree the debate (ongoing round of talks) around the inventiveness of AI, the scares, the doubts, and its fallible gait is never-ending soon. 

In IFPI’s report, it is clear that fans deeply value authenticity — a feature that AI lacks. Nearly eight in ten music fans (79%) feel human creativity remains essential to creating music. They believe making music that ticks the boxes of humanness through generative AI is impossible.

They also fear generative AI’s peculiar ability to clone artists’ music or vocals without authorization and permission. 74% agree that AI should not be used to clone or impersonate artists without authorization. The vast majority of fans also support the need for transparency, as 73% agree that an AI system should list the music it has used. 

As much as artists pay attention to the advantages of exploring artificial Intelligence, they must maintain sight of what their fans and music audience think of these 21st-century tools. 

Assuredly, the fear that plagues the minds of fans is utterly justifiable, considering the questionable leaning of generative artificial Intelligence, which, according to records, is very far from being a finished product—- even at that, as a finished product, it can not replicate the enthusiasm, the seismic proportion of wow that decorates music produced and recorded by humans.  

Fans are down for music channeled into their paths from core human creativity because music to them is beyond the percussion, the royalties that artists receive, and the credits that go to the producers, songwriters, and vocalists. Music to fans is core to their existence. 71% say music is important to their mental health, IFPI reported. While 78% say music helps them relax and cope with stress. 

But when music becomes a plaything in the hands of generative AI, it becomes a disgusting rendition of cloned and plagiarized sounds (sometimes) hurriedly meshed up because it is easier to make music with generative AI. 

Fans don’t want this; they want pure human creativity in the hollowing resonance of RnB or the nerve-triggering cadence of hip-hop. Fans want music that is a spark of spontaneity — a picturesque of imperfect lyricism and hooks that satiate their ears with the reality that is the life they live and not some perfect songs made from a supposedly perfect tool called generative AI. 

AI-created albums are set for launch in the coming weeks and months. This experiment will provide either caution or a pat on the back for music artists. There are questions yet unanswered. When these AI-created albums launch, the public’s response (music audience) will determine what falls back on the leaflet, which is the ears of artists, as vital lessons. But going by IFPI’s report, AI-created albums and songs are bound for rejection. If this gets a long-lasting run, the hours spent listening to music might reduce, which many streaming platforms will frown upon. 

Tobi Opeyemi Amure

Tobi started as a crypto writer in 2017 and became a key crypto news editor and SEO specialist at Watcher Guru in 2021, significantly boosting their traffic. He enjoys Afrobeats, R&B, and Soul music in his spare time.

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