AI: Sunset for Musicians

A word of caution:  Avoid the temptation to blast co-humans with  the catchier tracks linked in this morning’s report.
A bit longish, sure – especially if you listen to all the music links.  This is a study of music that reveals a great deal of the general processes involved in obsolizing/obsoleting humans.

Music’s a marvelous context for understanding computational encroachment into the human domain as we call out the technical <and in turn monetary drivers> that are moving toward the Sunset for Musicians.

First, our usual main news stories (especially the NOAA temperature and global warming fraud now breaking) along with our ChartPack view of markets.

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22 thoughts on “AI: Sunset for Musicians”

  1. “Can you do it live?” That’s my measuring stick for artists. Rush is a great example. If you have ever seen them live, you’d appreciate how it takes only 3 people, highly skilled at their craft, to absolutely emerse your ears with stunning complexity. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they absolutely pass the “live” test.

    A word of advise for musicians… ditch the keyboard. Nothing dates a tune more than electronic tones. Cool sounding midi back in the day evokes thoughts of cheap video games now. Use the piano instead. That sound hasn’t changes in hundreds of years. And if you think about it, AC/DC’s Back in Black album still sound good today for that one reason. Even though it is 40 YEARS OLD. Although my kids say the tempo is slow. I just shrug…

    • Rumor has it that the Petro Yuan will go live next Monday, 3/26. Perhaps OM2 and others know more.

      • Whatever the trading side thinks of the opening, it will not affect the underlying fundamentals of exploration budgets and production. It’s geopolitical, and thus can be a black swan or a nothing burger.

        If you are trying to trade oil, you need to find another sounding board than me – trader games are all about insider info, that traders talk about amongst themselves. Contango is just one of the more easy to spot ways that traders play games.

        I do imagine that a petro-Yuan would make it far easier for China to play with the exchange rate, wouldn’t you? They have a huge impetus to keep their balance sheet highly positive WRT the ROW.

  2. What about 440 Hz vs. 432 Hz? Interesting story of conforming to standards, with a bit of the ol’ woo.

  3. AI will liberate musicians from efforts like commercial drivel, and from holding us all hostage to their financial model.

    “Alexa, please provide some up tempo music for this video, I don’t have any money for licensing a song, and I am not a musician, and I can’t find suitable public domain material.”

    “Got it, up tempo and not already in public domain. Would you like me to copyright that for you?”

    Because once you teach a computer to paint Rembrandt, or write Beethoven (or Rush), or play pong, then all computers can do it. The question for humans becomes, how much do you value other humans? Right now, on this planet, I could care less if some schmuck in LA is getting paid to tinkle out a new jingle a la Charlie Waffles.

  4. 1928 chart lining up nicely for the blowoff top in May. I would expect you to click long later today.

  5. Does the prohibition of making idols extend to the images of women? Does that include sex robots?

    I always enjoyed “bubble gum music” on the radio and miss it. “Daddy’s Car” was very good too, though the visual gave me a headache. I never really hear the words in music, which is why voice over’s are such a bad idea.

    Sadly, a car radio can receive nearly nothing of value these days, so you have to bring your own media.

    • One of the differences between Christianity and Islam is over images.

      Islam prohibits making images of any living creature as mimicking god’s creative ability (as I understand it). Check their architecture, geometric shapes only.

      Whereas in Christianity the issue is are you using this image as an object of worship in place of worshiping god?

      I don’t know the rules of Judism enough to opine.

  6. I foresee a revolt against AI music and formulaic crap in the future. There are already a substantial number of folks who go to a concert and come back in shock, because the artists sound nothing like they do in media. THAT is the reason so many have been busted lip-syncing – trying to deliver a performance that reproduces what their studio engineers created, and what got them the money in the first place.

    There is also a huge push for labels to pay artists popcorn wages, and the entire AI/lip-sync/audio editing thing makes that more possible than ever before. Many of those out there today are far less talented than people you find playing or singing in churches, streets and local clubs in cities. They are essentially pretty faces for AI and audio engineers.

    This started out in the Top 40 pop venue, and has now migrated firmly into C&W as well. If you close your eyes and listen to the top 5 songs in either category over the last few years, you can hear myriad similarities regardless of artist. Formulaic is the best adjective for this, as they do try and vary it within narrow bands, yet it is the same rhythm, beat, harmony and keys shifted here and there for the undiscerning ear.

    THAT is why you can’t find anything worth a listen on the radio between 10 minutes of commercials.

    I recommend you support your local artists by going and listening to them – until the next revolt in music comes, it will only get worse.

  7. Harry’s was more-polished, but I prefer Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, and (for a good, “modern” version) Steve Earle, for “John Henry.”

    ‘Loved both Seeger and Dylan. IMO Dylan couldn’t (can’t) carry a tune in a basket, but damn, that man could write! I never paid attention to their politics…

    The picture you posted of that Revox gave me a serious flashback — Drove a number of Studer and Ampex decks back in the day — everything from 2 to 24 channels, using Ampex 406 and 456 tape. I sometimes wish I’d bought one when every studio and school went digital and dumped ’em, because there is no way to duplicate the warmth and “presence” of the tracks they laid.

    The advantages to multitrack are the engineer can create a precise balance of the instrumentation, and musicians like Todd Rundgren, Imogen Heap, and Mike Oldfield (does anyone besides me still have “Tubular Bells” on vinyl?) who typically play many instruments, can lay tracks of a number of different instruments on the same piece. The disadvantage to multitrack is the end-product is wholly dependent upon the engineer’s interpretation of “precise balance,” which is why the aforementioned musicians are also recording engineers who do their own engineering and mixdown.

    • BTW in a past life I was an engineer, and in both my practice and opinion, the recorded track should be balanced, but not tweaked. I consider the toys on my computer console as just things with which to extract tracks, mostly vocals, which someone else “buried.” IMO if a group is not putting out a quality product, it is not incumbent on the engineer to make it seem so. It’s probably a good thing that I moved on when I did…

    • Spoken as a true ear-man, Ray. Yup – when I met Everlast at Encore Studio in LA I was impressed – he did his own engineering – hence his unique style and sound.
      OM2 has a great point elsewhere – you can’t “live” a 96 track mixdown with any degree of accuracy – but that’s where the door opens to AI’s in at the FOH desk

      • In studio, solo wind instruments would get bell mics, woodwinds except the double-reeds would also sometimes get neck mics or pickups. Percussion and strings, the sky’s the limit (I think I once mic’d a single guitar with six.)

        We played with live setups for years, and even brought in a physicist who was an audio specialist (hey, it was the ’70s. We had steno pads, he had a mainframe.) Thus came our rule of 12s: The best setups for live begin with 2 unis, 12 feet apart and 12 feet off the floor above the 4th-7th row of the crowd, each aimed about 12 degrees offcenter, between center stage and its respective stack (straight forward for an unamplified performance.) The setup will add from two to six omnis for crowd and fill, and their placement is critically dependent upon the venue and its specific acoustics, but the two unis are the actual concert recording mics.

        As you know George, microphones and speakers are not perfect transducers. It is the very imperfection of the speakers which makes a live concert sound “live.” This is why we’d mic instead of just taking a patch off the console. The console gets the raw feed, balances it, and pipes it to the stacks. Its output is “clean,” and is what the road engineer believes the concert should sound like, but IT IS NOT WHAT THE AUDIENCE ACTUALLY HEARS. The speakers and hall acoustics color the clean sound. The mics pick up this coloration, the board feed does not.

      • If I were to do recording today for pay, I’d probably use 3-4 ambient mics and take an “all channel” patch off the board, along with my live mics, just to give the unfortunate engineer (which I guarandamntee would NOT be me — I have my own sense of “honesty” and “integrity,” to which today’s music scene is in apposition), the opportunity to play with the input from each individual mic and pickup, autotune the singers who can’t, soften that sour rhythm note, and all the other stuff which sells records, but doesn’t convey an actual live concert experience.

        …And to OM2: Absolutely! You can’t “live” any mixdown, because once the engineer tweaks this and jiggers that, the result is a single-take studio album, with an audience track.

  8. People don’t listen. If it’s loud, with an agonizingly repetitive eight beat hook and an overbearing bass line and beat, it must be good, right?

    I get cold chills every time I hear the tympani line and Chinese bell tree licks from the Doobies’ “South City Midnight Lady” or the trumpet duel in “I Cheat the Hangman,” or Paul Simon’s or Frank Zappa’s creative use of a contrabass sarrusophone. I accept the fact that I’m a relic. My only regret is few people born after 1975 will ever realize what they’re missing, and never know when it’s gone forever…

    The major difference in lyrics between the mid 1950s to mid 1980s, and that which came later, is subtlety. “Rock and Roll” is a euphemism for “sex.” ANY mention of sex, drugs, politics or antidisestablishmentarianism, communism or socialism, violence (except that which is “gallantly inspired” — see “Barry Sadler”), or the use of any word or term which could be construed to be profane or indecent, got a song banned from the airwaves.

    Since writers wanted to comment on the above, they found extremely-creative ways of couching their thoughts. Because the ’50s and ’60s folk writers are too easy, to demonstrate the concept of subtlety with my eldest daughter, I used Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight,” explaining it is one of the “dirtiest” songs ever written; and I used Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair / Canticle” to demonstrate how a real songcraftsman could be “in your face” with a “censorable” message, and still pass NAB muster.

    Thanks predominately to Tipper Gore (that’s AlGore’s wife, for you young’uns) today’s popular music lacks both subtlety, and the intelligence and creativity required to either author or understand the underlying meaning of subtle lyrics. The rock/pop industry has been dumbed-down, as has the listener base, and the result is LCD-targeted, vituperative, vulgar, and profane lyrics which are devoid of creativity and lend themselves perfectly to both AI-generated music and WordAI authored lyrics…

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