In the age of advanced computers we are at the cusp of true artificial intelligence. It should be no surprise that the music industry is tapping into that technology. Just thinking about all of the algorithms that go into picking the next song in our daily listening habits can make your head spin. But in the future, it might do more than pick from a bunch of “popular” songs.
According to Axios, Apple has acquired the music analytics engine Asaii in a deal worth reportedly less than $100 million. The part you should pay attention though is what the company does. They refer to themselves as an “automated A&R and music analytics platform.” It’s a machine that talent scouts for music.
No matter how many people out there love music, we’re never going to be able to listen to the entire world’s music catalog (as much as we wish we could). This machine might be able to do just that. And if it does a good job, that means it could find a lot of smaller artists out there and give them a shot at the big leagues.
Asaii could be incredibly skilled at using predictive analysis to find music we will like and bring it to our attention. It could generate a new music explosion over the next few years. The most exciting part about this, in my eyes, is that we might be hearing music from tiny little towns across the world that we might have never heard about because there wasn’t an A&R search party listening, but Asaii was.
However, if Asaii does work, and it works well, it could imperil the jobs of A&R workers at labels. As this program advances, it will necessarily decrease the human interaction required to create and discover the music that we all know and love.
Also, if there is an algorithm for pop music, what does that say about our listening habits? Are humans programmed to like certain bells and whistles as long as they’re in a certain order? Are we basic? It could be an indictment of our music taste if the algorithm ends up delivering us similar sounding pop tunes.
If it only understands the pop music genre, will the program be able to discern other genres? There are many differences in the spectrum of human music taste that may not be captured fully by a simple averaging of “what humans like.”
What do you think is going to happen with “pop music” in the future if a machine is behind the wheel in the A&R department? Tell us on Twitter!