The rapid growth of AI is forcing writers, artists, and musicians to grapple with how artificial intelligence will change the way they work.
One musician who’s enthused about the possibilities is Avenged Sevenfold frontman Matt Sanders (a.k.a. M. Shadows), who told Decrypt’s gm podcast that “AI can be incredibly useful” for songwriters. “You're using AI to not only spark ideas, but you're using it a much quicker way to kind of get to some of these cool little nuggets of gold,” he said.
“If you think about how you write music," Sanders added, "it's like you're going into your own database of, ‘I've listened to Bach, I've listened to The Weeknd, I've listened to Kanye,’ and now I'm going to regurgitate it in this way and spew out my own version of that,” he explained.
AI, he said, can streamline that process: “Give me 20 versions of this chord change, or I want to hear a different top line there. You take a little thing that interests you and you go somewhere with it.”
“That's not really AI writing a song for you,” he added. “It's kind of giving you this kind of jumping off point.”
AI Little Piece of Heaven
AI also opens up the possibility of fans using the work of their favorite acts as a machine learning library to create their own songs. Electro-pop artist Grimes has already created an AI-powered voiceprint that fans can apply to their own recordings, and announced that she’ll share royalties on AI-generated songs using her voice.
It’s an idea that Sanders is enthused by. He recently tweeted his support for Grimes’ plans, adding that he’d “love to help facilitate our 'sound' to producers and fans” so that they can create their own Avenged Sevenfold tracks using AI.
If fans don’t like the “eccentric” direction Avenged Sevenfold has taken with their new record “Life Is but a Dream…” he explained, they could use the band’s early records “Waking the Fallen” and “City of Evil” as training data for an AI.
“What's wrong with someone throwing in a prompt and saying, ‘Listen to these two records, and send me a new record with 11 songs'?” he said. “I would love to give up my voice to where people can create their own versions of our songs or whatever they feel would be cool.”
Blinded in (Block)chains
Blockchain could be used to authenticate the band’s own songs and distinguish them from AI-generated fan efforts, he said. “I would authenticate the ‘us’ on the blockchain, and I would authenticate the AI on the blockchain,” he said. “This is AI, and this is the real thing. And this is immutable, right?”
That blockchain-powered authentication could also protect singers if someone were to create a song with objectionable lyrics using their voice, Sanders said. “I wouldn’t fight it; I would just say, ‘These are authenticated on the blockchain and people are free to do whatever they want,’” he explained. “I'm okay with somebody using an AI-generated voice as long as you could see that some jerk made that—and that's where I think the authentication comes in.”
Avenged Sevenfold have enthusiastically embraced blockchain technology, launching their own NFT collection, Deathbats Club and partnering with Ticketmaster for NFT-gated ticket sales for their upcoming tour.
Meanwhile, the record industry is already investing in AI companies “to get a handle” on the technology, Sanders said. “The music industry, if they were smart, learned a lot from Napster,” he said. “If you think you’re going to fight this thing, or put it in a box, you’re gonna be wrong—so you're going to have to mold it to something that works within your business model.”
Artists and the record industry have to learn the lessons of the streaming media era, Sanders said. With the rise of platforms like Spotify, “artists still kept the same percentage of royalties, even though there was no physical product to make any more—so all of a sudden, the artists kind of got the shit end of the stick.”
“We need to make sure that whatever comes out next, it's actually artist-friendly, and not the same people buying up the companies and creating the actual legislation that's going to run whatever AI music is,” Sanders added.
H-AI-l to the King
Ultimately, Sanders said, “AI is going to be an incredible tool” for creators: “It will give people a lot more artistic freedom, and a lot more ability to hear things and explore things.”
“I think it's going to be artists working hand in hand with AI that are going to be able to work quicker, faster, stronger—sounds very Daft Punk,” Sanders joked. “I think this is going to be a new paradigm shift, and it's just gonna be, ‘How do you adapt to it?’”