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He’s the Piano, Man

AI is learning to write pop music. Hide your ears

DISRUPTION

@kmaney

TECHNOLOGY THREATENS TO make musicians about as essential as draft animals. Artificial intelligence is showing it can render songwriters moot, and now it seems that a robot Elton John loaded with AI could go on tour after the real one is gone, performing songs the Elton-bot writes based on that day’s news.

Musicians are already reeling from the shift to streaming music, which pays artists a fraction of what they used to make on CD sales. Yet even though pay is down, artists have been able to feel that the world still needs people to write and record new music. Now that’s in jeopardy too. Spotify, IBM, Google and a smattering of startups, such as Jukedeck, are working on AI-driven song creation. By next decade, a Grammy for song of the year might go to a piece of software.

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