To speed up and simplify music production, many artists now employ artificial intelligence to create AI-generated music.
In the past few years, AI has matured as a compositional tool, allowing musicians to discover new sounds derived from AI algorithms and software.
As a result, AI-generated music has become mainstream and is adding another dimension to the music industry.
How Does AI-Generated Music Work?
AI-generated music works when you feed large amounts of data to AI algorithms that study chords, tracks and other data to determine patterns for creating music similar to the information the algorithms have processed.
Artists have started to embrace this technology and its capabilities, revealing both the upsides and shortcomings of artificial intelligence in music.
AI-Generated Music Leads to New and Different Forms
The rise of AI-generated music has led to companies and individuals offering unique takes on renowned songs and artists.
For example, the piece “Drowned in the Sun” is the product of Google’s Magenta and a neural network inputting data from dozens of original Nirvana recordings and crafting lyrics for the singer of a Nirvana tribute band to perform. Although the audio is a bit muddy, AI has impressed even those in academia with its abilities.
“It’s able to coherently generate a multi-instrumental piece of music with metrical structure, musical phrases, progressions that make sense, all while doing it at a granular audio rate,” said Oliver Bown, author of Beyond the Creative Species.
Increasing in complexity, AI-generated pieces have showcased their talent for closely mimicking the styles and sounds of musicians. However, artists are taking it a step further by employing the technology to enhance their tracks.
AI-Generated Music Offers Artists More Creative Options
Musicians are adopting AI for composition in ways that resemble a collaborative, forward-thinking tool more than an imitation-focused machine.
Writer Robin Sloan and musician Jesse Solomon Clark created an album using OpenAI’s Jukebox, which, like Magenta, can predictively continue a musical snippet. Holly Herndon’s 2019 album, Proto, described by Vulture as the “world’s first mainstream album made with AI,” incorporated a neural network that generated audio variations based on hours of vocal samples.
“[Herndon is] working with AI as this sort of extended choir,” Bown said.
Inspired by these applications, artists and technologists hope for an even greater step forward. One possibility for AI in music could be models that respond to artists in real-time performances. Rather than edit down the interesting bits offered by a model, humans could bounce off musical ideas with AI, just like a bass player and drummer in a rhythm section.
“It’s a long shot, but it could have a huge impact,” said Roger Dannenberg, a professor of computer science, art and music at Carnegie Mellon University.
While these scenarios seem promising, there are uncertainties and possible downsides that artists need to consider before buying into these visions.
AI-Generated Music’s Lack of Originality
AI has been able to replicate the sonic qualities of artists, but the innovation that defined famous musicians has remained elusive.
“Nirvana was famous for doing things in a different way than had come before, but machine learning is really good at doing things the way that humans have already done them before,” said Jason Palamara, assistant professor of music and arts technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
The effect of AI producing songs that sound similar to previous works is a lack of variety and quality in AI-generated music pieces.
Hope persists for a not-too-distant future where AI moves beyond mimicry and riffs with human musicians, but rudimentary versions of this technology are flawed by a lack of sophisticated real-time musical interfaces. This means simple details for humans (like synchronizing and beat tracking) are a major challenge for models, Dannenberg said.
The data limitations are pronounced, too. The “Drowned in the Sun” Nirvana track stems from hours of rich MIDI data, but a live performance generates scant audio in comparison. So, for live music generation, “you have to kind of dumb it down,” Palamara said.
Copyright Concerns Over AI-Generated Music
Along with a lack of originality, the legal framework for AI in music remains murky. Those who produce AI-generated music may not be able to copyright their music while musicians whose songs were analyzed may not know when it’s appropriate to sue someone for copying their lyrics or any other musical elements too closely.
The issue of who owns what has plagued AI in writing and art because of tools like ChatGPT and Lensa, and it’s likely to continue to stir up arguments within the music industry. Particularly in the world of AI-generated art, questions about the accuracy and authenticity of pieces will likely spill over into debates around AI music.
AI-Generated Music and Job Losses
Job losses due to automation are a major worry when it comes to AI, and music is no exception to this trend. AI that produces beats, rhythms and melodies may take over the roles of drummers, bassists and other musicians.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to have artificial intelligence supplement musicians, serving as collaborators for adding fresh sounds and techniques to the creative process. However, AI causing job losses in the music industry is a very real possibility that artists, technologists and other parties need to weigh when relying on AI music generators.
11 AI Music Generators and Tools
While advanced compositional AI remains the most interesting AI-in-music endgame for many, artificial intelligence has already been impacting the music industry for years. AI-generated mindfulness ambient music, rights-free music generation for content creators and automation-assisted mixing and mastering have all matured into major industries in the last five or so years.
Here’s a closer look at some notable players.
AI Music Generators and Tools to Know
- OpenAI’s MuseNet
- iZotope’s AI assistants
- Aiva Technologies
- Amper Music’s Score tool
Location: San Francisco, California
Notable features: Ability to pivot between music styles and analyze musical elements
Among its AI research projects, OpenAI has developed a tool called MuseNet for composing AI-generated musical pieces. With its ability to decipher patterns among style, rhythm and harmony, MuseNet can pivot between music genres while including up to 10 instruments in tracks. Both professional musicians and casual music-lovers can experiment with OpenAI’s AI music generator, mixing and matching musical elements to craft distinctive tracks.
iZotope’s AI Assistants
Founded: 2001 Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Notable features: Collection of AI music assistants
Cost: Products range from $29 to $1,999
iZotope emerged as a pioneer in AI-assisted music production back in 2016, with the release of Track Assistant. The mixing feature uses AI to generate custom effects settings based on the sonic palette of a given track. Today, it hosts a full suite of assistants that tailor starting-point suggestions for vocal mixes, reverb application and mastering. Because of its software and AI-centric products like Spire Studio, iZotope software has been used to mix and master records by artists such as Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar and Foo Fighters.
Founded: 2003 Location: Chicago, Illinois
Notable features: Music that caters to certain mental states, product backed by neuroscience and psychology research
Cost: $6.99 per month or $49.99 per year
Brain.fm is a web and mobile application that provides atmospheric music to encourage rest, relaxation and focus. Created by a team of engineers, entrepreneurs, musicians and scientists, the company’s music engine uses AI to arrange musical compositions and add acoustic features that enable listeners to enter certain mental states. In a pilot study led by a Brain.fm academic collaborator, the application showed higher rates of sustained attention and less mind-wandering, which led to a boost in productivity.
Founded: 2016Location: Fully Remote
Notable features: Ability to quickly produce variations of a musical work, full usage rights
Cost: Free plan with additional plan options
Aiva Technologies is the creator of a soundtrack-producing artificial intelligence music engine. The platform enables composers and creators to make originals or upload their work to create new variations. Depending on the plan chosen, creators can also forgo the worry of licensing because the platform offers full usage rights. Rather than replacing musicians, Aiva wants to enhance the collaboration between artificial and organic creativity.
Amper Music’s Score Tool
Founded: 2015Location: New York, New York
Notable features: Web app tool that helps customize music pieces, unlimited music plan
Cost: Plans start at $19, with more advanced options
Upon acquiring Amper Music in 2020, Shutterstock adapted the company’s Score program as a browser-based tool and an API. The web application enables creators to choose composition style, mood and length, crafting it to fit their content with no additional musical knowledge or skills. Shutterstock has built on this development to offer an unlimited music plan for customers to access a variety of beats.
Location: San Diego, California
Notable features: Royalty-free music, broad selection of moods and templates, licensing and monetization plans available
Cost: Free plan, with option to upgrade to premium or enterprise plan
Soundful is an AI music generator that produces background music for social media, video games, digital ads and other formats. Users choose from a broad range of music templates and moods, adapting tracks to their specific needs. Larger organizations can select Soundful’s enterprise plan to establish licensing terms and ways for monetizing templates, ensuring their creative endeavors remain profitable.
Founded: 2014Location: New York, New York
Notable features: Library of music samples, independent music distribution
Cost: All-in-one subscription for $12.50 per month, with additional plans
LANDR is a creative platform that enables musicians to create, master and sell their music. The company’s mastering software uses AI and machine learning to analyze track styles and enhance parameters based on its reference library of genres and styles. Beyond AI-enhanced mastering, LANDR enables musicians to create quality music and distribute it on major streaming platforms while avoiding the costs associated with a professional studio.
Founded: 2012 Location: San Francisco, California
Notable features: Range of automated features for music operations, fast analytics
Cost: Free plan with options to upgrade
Muzeek is a music-generating AI-powered platform that automates and simplifies aspects of music operations. Teams can automate paperwork tasks, calendar updates, booking settlements, ticket data and payment invoices. Muzeek’s platform can also track variables like webpage engagement, event revenue and expenses. With instant analytics, musicians and companies can make adjustments on the fly and improve their processes for future bookings.
Founded: 2017 Location: Fully Remote
Notable features: Available on Roblox, generative AI quickly produces customized songs
Since its 2017 launch under the name “Popgun,” Splash has remained focused on bridging AI and music production in an amusing, intuitive fashion. Popgun’s intelligent digital instruments, which interacted with users and each other, gave way to Splash’s game-based, AI-assisted music tools that found a big audience in Roblox. Now, the company aims to focus on the intersection of smart, user-friendly music composition and the metaverse.
Output’s Arcade Software and Kit Generator
Founded: 2013Location: Los Angeles, California
Notable features: Track-building software, AI tool for creating collections of sounds
Cost: Free trial available for a limited time, prices may change
Output’s signature software Arcade lets users build and manipulate loops into full-length tracks. Users can access audio-preset plug-ins, then adjust sonic details like delay, chorus, echo and fidelity before minting a track. The software also features an AI-powered tool called Kit Generator, which lets users generate a full kit, or collection of sounds, from discrete audio samples. Output’s technology has supported music by artists like Drake and Rihanna and the scores of Black Panther and Game of Thrones.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Notable features: Royalty-free music, options for customizing songs to fit video sequences
Cost: Free plan, with a more in-depth plan available for $16.99 per month
Soundraw is a royalty-free music platform that uses AI to tailor songs to the needs of creators. Selecting and molding factors like mood, genre, song length and chorus positioning, creatives can develop personalized musical tracks that align with video sequences. Soundraw users also avoid some of the copyright issues that arise on other platforms, making it even easier to create and distribute music.