AI in dance music: what do DJs and producers think about it?

  • By Megan Lawton
  • BBC Newsbeat

image caption,

Nuria has been DJing and producing for eight years

You’re in a club, the music is blaring and the lights are flashing.

You see the DJ booth, but there’s no one there because it’s an AI-generated mix.

As mixing software becomes more sophisticated and venues cut budgets, it’s a concern of some in the dance music industry.

But can a computer program ever replace the real-life interaction between a DJ and the crowd?

In a word, no. At least not in Nuria’s opinion.

AI programs have been available in his field for years, suggesting mixes of songs based on their tempos.

But they still haven’t taken Nuria’s job, and she thinks she knows why.

„Because it’s so hard for me to connect with my audience,” he says.

„Imagine a raver looking at me when I’m DJing and I’m sweating like them.

„At that point they realized that intimate connection that AI couldn’t.”

image source, Hannah Rose

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Hannah mainly plays garage and bassline in her DJ sets

Hannah Ross learned to DJ during the lockdown and is trying to turn it into her main source of income.

She has plenty of work to do, but the cost-of-living crisis has seen her cut budgets.

„There’s been a big shift from Covid towards people listening to stream sets,” he says.

Hanna noticed that several nightclubs already had a camera set up behind the decks for streaming.

Now she worries that will extend to virtual sets.

„They have a long way to go to match the emotional intelligence of a human, but as AI creates original mixes, it could be a very bleak future for DJs,” he says.

In March this year, AI Rave was held at an East London stadium Mixed reviewsAs some say, the music felt „dry and empty”.

image source, Good pictures

image caption,

Dance music is one of the UK’s favorite genres – but it doesn’t get the support DJs claim.

Humans can make great DJs but it’s not such a straightforward story for producers.

Being a DJ, Nuria creates her own music.

His creative process currently involves experimenting with different sounds in software before mastering tracks. It is at this final stage that AI comes in.

„To me, the conversation about AI in manufacturing is too late,” he says.

„There are already at least 10 different software programs that mix music and can put producers out of work”.

He wants to see a better dialogue between people in the music industry and AI developers.

„The danger here is that the work is done without discussion of what it means for the music industry.”

One solution, he says, would be to tax AI companies.

Phil Gear agrees. He works at a music union and worries that AI will impose limits on the amount people are willing to pay for recordings made by human creators.

„AI music will be cheaper,” he says. „And I think people will be tempted to use it, maybe bars.”

Though he says, its full influence only goes so far as humans allow it.

„A lot will be determined by the public’s willingness to accept AI or the quality of music it can produce.”

He doesn’t think the majority of commercial music will be affected, but highlights „background” music as an area at risk.

„With music in TV and movies, I think the public will be more willing to accept AI-generated music because there’s no personality associated with it,” he says.

„I think there’s a certain amount of investment in bars and clubs.”

Like many industries, the world of music has already been affected by advances in technology.

This development is the same for Nuria.

„Music has evolved rapidly over time. We’ve gone from tapes to CDs, from radio to streaming services, and there’s been disruption at every level. This is no different.”

„We need to rethink, find our footing and organize things so it’s an enthusiastic collaborator rather than an adversary.”

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