Music’s ChatGPT Moment

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

April 17, 2024
Nue Agency

Back in the day, as a young, hungry agent, I had a rule of thumb: if I heard about a new artist three times in a week, I’d stop whatever I was doing and find a way to introduce myself to that artist or their team. It allowed me to meet and work with a lot of up-and-coming artists and stay on the pulse of what was next.

The music business has changed since then, but the strategy has legs. At present, it can be more easily applied to the music tech space than the artist space, as few things get hotter more quickly than emerging tech products and ideas.

Now, I’m not talking about Airchat, Naval’s new Clubhouse voice social app, although that does seem to have caught fire this week. What I’m referring to is the launch of Suno and the announcement of Udio. Both of these companies are popping up in client meetings and conversations, and being forwarded to me from every corner of my network.

It’s exciting to see music generate this type of excitement and once again be at the forefront of the tech revolution. So, what are these companies, you ask?

Suno is an AI music generator that creates songs with original lyrics and beats using a text prompt. The tool can be accessed via its free standalone website or via Microsoft Copilot by enabling Suno’s third-party plug-in. What makes Suno unique is it abstains from generating music that mimics the voices of real artists.

Udio, founded in December 2023 by an all-star consortium of backers from A16Z to Common and Will.I.Am, is a bit different. This one specifically offers celebrity “sounds like” capabilities. So, in theory, you can text a prompt such as, “make a song that is 15 seconds long, sounds like Will.i.Am wrote and performed it, and is about my favorite car brand releasing a red convertible that can jump over traffic,” and actually have Will’s blessing and real elements of his voice and music in the LLM input “sauce.”

I’m impressed by these new AI features. They are undoubtedly cool and I see a lot of ways in which AI is a game changer across the music, IP, and brand marketing worlds. This is not hype. The AI revolution is real but I don’t think it will affect artist demand as it relates to high profile campaigns, movies, shows, or games, certainly not in the short term. If anything, it will boost demand for the real thing because real artists making real music is the most compelling storytelling a brand can create. That drives connection, shows creativity, and carries tremendous cache.

AI music is functional, but real music is cultural. If I hear an AI version of Anthony Bourdain is involved in his documentary movie, I immediately lose interest in seeing it. It’s a useful tool and is novel right now, but can actually reduce the oh-so-important authenticity of a project. People are not willing to forfeit this and I’m not sure they ever will be.

I also believe that beyond the PR push, these music AI apps will certainly have trouble connecting to older audiences the way real music does. What we don’t know is how this will resonate with Gen Z and Alpha, the generations that have only known digital and grew up in a different ecosystem. That’s a cohort that helped make Lil Miquela, a digital Instagram influencer, an icon. That said, no one has been able to recreate her relevance since.

If you’re looking to drive product and attention that lasts in 2024, there’s nothing like the real thing, baby. Real artists will remain the apple of marketers’ eyes!

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Also published on Medium.