Unleashing Creativity

Exploring generative AI’s impact on the music industry

Volume 124, No. 3March, 2024

William Meade

Musicians are increasingly worried about the impact of generative artificial intelligence on their careers and job prospects. While generative AI has already made its mark, the future implications remain uncertain. Many speculate on its effects, but definitive answers are elusive at this stage.

Generative AI is revolutionizing recorded and live music, rendering traditional business models obsolete. The rapid pace of change means that the old ways have become outdated. It’s crucial for all musicians to stay informed and engaged.

At the same time, musicians and all artists demand consent and compensation when it comes to AI. Indeed, this is something that writers, actors and musicians are fighting for in their new agreements (read about the AFM’s tentative agreement with the AMPTP).

Starting with this edition of Allegro, we’ll explore AI’s impact with articles written by industry experts directly impacting our membership.

In addition, on the Local 802 website, we have posted library of articles and information where you can independently read about the changing world of AI. There is a lot of misinformation roaming around the internet and we will strive to have the most up-to-date and accurate information available.

We will be also launching forums (both online and in person) for questions, personal experiences, and information sharing, with some of the world’s brightest minds in the industry.

We’ll keep you posted on when these resources will be available.

This inaugural article below is penned by long-time member William Meade, who is serving as chair of Local 802’s new AI Advisory Committee. It will serve as a general introduction to generative AI.

This is not a time to sit back and hope for the best. Let’s get educated and let’s get involved!

— Local 802 President Sara Cutler

The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” — Albert Einstein

Innovation in technology has always played a pivotal role in shaping the music industry. From the advent of recording technologies to the rise of streaming platforms, each advancement has ushered in new possibilities for artists and listeners alike. One such transformative force making waves in the music world is generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). As musicians, producers, and industry professionals, it’s essential to understand how generative AI is revolutionizing music creation and consumption. It is essential to understand the creative opportunities it enables, as well as the commercial challenges it presents.

What is generative AI?

Generative AI is a fundamental change in technology and digital capabilities, like the invention of the internet. The accelerated pace of generative AI development has never before been seen.

Generative AI refers to algorithms and systems capable of producing original and creative content autonomously. Unlike traditional AI, which is often used for specific tasks like classification or prediction, generative AI is designed to generate new content, such as music, images, and text. It achieves this by learning patterns and structures from vast datasets and then generating novel outputs that mimic human creativity.

The rise of AI in music creation

In recent years, generative AI has emerged as a powerful tool for musicians and producers, offering new avenues for creativity and exploration. One notable application is the use of AI-generated music in composition and production. AI algorithms can analyze vast libraries of existing music to learn patterns and styles, allowing them to compose original pieces in various genres and moods.

Additionally, generative AI enables real-time collaboration between humans and machines, blurring the lines between artist and tool. Musicians can now interact with AI systems to generate melodies, harmonies, and rhythms, sparking new ideas and pushing the boundaries of traditional music creation.

Enhancing the creative process

Generative AI isn’t just about automation; it’s about augmenting human creativity. By leveraging AI tools, musicians can overcome creative blocks, experiment with new sounds and styles, and uncover unexpected musical possibilities. AI-generated music can serve as inspiration, providing starting points for compositions or sparking fresh insights into arrangement and production.

Moreover, generative AI empowers artists to explore diverse musical landscapes, transcending conventional genres and conventions. Whether it’s blending genres, experimenting with avant-garde compositions, or creating personalized soundtracks, AI offers endless opportunities for artistic expression and innovation.

Challenges and considerations

While generative AI holds immense promise for the music industry, it also presents several challenges and considerations. One concern is the issue of originality and authenticity. As AI becomes increasingly proficient at mimicking human creativity, questions arise about the distinction between AI-generated music and compositions created by human artists.

One of the biggest challenges is that over time audiences will be, in effect, “dumbed down” to the point where they will not be able to tell the difference human and AI generated music — but, more importantly, they won’t care.

Furthermore, there are ethical and commercial considerations surrounding the use of AI in music, including questions of ownership, copyright and attribution. As AI-generated content becomes more prevalent, it’s crucial to establish clear guidelines and frameworks to ensure fairness and transparency in the creative process.

Embracing the future of music

How can we engage with generative AI in a way that is meaningful, creative and productive? This is the question we all need to ask ourselves. This is the question that leads to the path of understanding the benefits, potential uses and challenges of generative AI.

Despite the challenges, generative AI represents a transformative force in the music industry, offering new possibilities for creativity, collaboration, and exploration. As musicians and industry professionals, embracing AI technologies can enhance our creative process, expand our musical horizons, and shape the future of music in exciting and unforeseen ways.

In conclusion, generative AI is not merely a tool; it’s a catalyst for innovation and evolution in music. Harnessing AI’s potential can unlock new dimensions of creativity and redefine what’s possible in the ever-evolving landscape of music creation and consumption. As we embark on this journey, let’s embrace the opportunities that AI presents and continue to push the boundaries of musical expression.

In the coming months, Allegro will publish a series of articles that will delve into the key opportunities and challenges presented by generative AI. Generative AI is not a passing fad. If we understand and embrace it, we will be able to position ourselves strongly for the future.

This is a first of many articles to come. I welcome your feedback.

p.s…Check out the A.I. research page on the Local 802 website.

Multi-instrumentalist William Meade, a member of Local 802 since 1985, is the chair of the union’s new AI Advisory Committee. William is a seasoned performer and producer with over three decades of experience in television, Broadway, concerts and global events. During the last 12 months, he has spent considerable time and effort to understand the accelerating impact AI is having across all professions, including that of musician’s. His knowledge of AI encompasses practical, academic and regulatory aspects, all of which continue to evolve at a rapid pace. E-mail William Meade at: