During the last few years the world suddenly realized that the artificial intelligence evolved quickly and is not able to do things that we couldn’t even imagine it could happen so soon. Every area will be afected and of course, the music business too. In an interview with Broken Record (Transcribed by Ultimate Guitar), The Who‘s co-founder, guitarist and main songwriter Pete Townshend talked about how the industry will be affected by this new technology in his opinion.
Pete Townshend talks about the rise of AI in the music business
“Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think it will help in all kinds of ways that that will surprise us when they happen, just like the Internet has. And of course, the internet has a very, very dark side. What’s actually been happening is that very, very few artists are starting to monopolize the majority of streaming, to the extent where the long tail, which was predicted when the internet started… [has] become so clogged up.”
“You go onto Spotify — Apple [Music] is the same — you go into an area, which nobody else is listening to. And you hear the most extraordinary stuff. You hear it on SoundCloud, Bandcamp you make discoveries, and you think, ‘Who the fuck is this? They’re brilliant!’ They’re a genius, but they’ve got 12 followers. It’s sort of tragic, what’s actually happened, because not that all of those people could ever have [have] been famous. We’re used to the star system being a place… where a ‘black swan’, that’s somebody that’s just extremely lucky to be in the right place at the right time.”
“But with respect to AI, I’m hopeful, but I’m not going to say is inevitably going to be a good thing, because I think it’s when it becomes what drives the machine, then we have to be careful. My major concern with it now is in the artistic area. I think by this time next year the landscape will be completely different. We won’t know which way is up.”
“We won’t know what’s been created by AI and what’s been created by humans. Everything is going to get very blurred and very confusing, and I think we might look back on 2023 as the last year when humans really dominated the music scene. I really think it could be that serious, and that doesn’t fill me with joy. It makes me feel apprehensive, and I’m preparing to feel sad about this,” Pete Townshend said.
Although there is really no way to predict what it’s going to happen in the music business in the next years with the use of AI, The Beatles recently showed what can be done. The tape of the unfinished John Lennon song “Now and Then” was “cleaned” by AI so that his voice could be heard and mixed into the recording of the track which also had guitar parts previously recorded by George Harrison.