An AI musician is getting its first album: A collaboration with Taryn Southern

This is the kind of heartwarming story that should give plucky young artificial intelligences everywhere hope for the future. Amper – a musical AI designed chiefly to collaborate with humans on royalty-free mood music for commercials – has been spotted, and will be making its first album.

Amper provides the music for the upcoming album, I AM AI – a collaboration with Taryn Southern, a YouTube personality and songwriter. Although the lyrics and vocals are Southern’s, the chord progressions, notation and instrumentation is entirely the work of Amper. This makes the project different from past music credited to AI, which tends to be adapted by a human curator to ensure it’s fit for human consumption.

In an interview with TechCrunch earlier this year, Amper’s co-creator Drew Silverstein stated that among the core beliefs of the company was that “the future of music is going to be created in the collaboration between humans and AI”. It looks like that theory is going to be stress-tested by Amper’s first album.

In Taryn Southern, it’s certainly picked an interesting collaborator. With more than 450,000 YouTube subscribers, she’s not exactly short of fans to promote to, and she does have two albums under her belt already: the first a “comedy” album (read into those quotation marks what you will), with song titles such as Coffee Makes Me Poo and Remarkable Vagina. Her follow-up was an album full of eighties covers, so it’s fair to say that Amper is at least pushing a creative change of direction, judging from the tone of the first single above.

This does, of course, raise interesting questions about the role of creativity. If AI made the music, but Southern the lyrics, does that make it her song? I personally can’t play an instrument, but if I did a similar trick and wrote some lyrics to sing over the top of an AI-generated track, karaoke-style, would that legitimately make me a musician? It’s hard to say.

But if Southern’s album gets more attention than her previous releases, you can’t imagine she’ll be the last person to get a little creative help from an AI maestro. The question is: will future collaborators be so open to credit their hidden helper for its part in the creative process? Or will this kind of outsourcing be seen as a hacky way of making it?

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