The Origins of ‘The Concept A.I.bum’

Credit: Photography by Aijani Payne
Credit: Photography by Aijani Payne

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you’ve probably been hearing a lot of talk about artificial intelligence. Is AI a passing trend or will it change the way we live? We’re about to find out.
Among musicians and producers, the debate over AI has been quite the hot topic. Some fear that AI-generated music could put artists and songwriters out of work, and lead to a decline of quality and innovation.

That being said, I feel that if we can get in front of AI technologies and use them responsibly, we can support the future of music while maintaining its integrity. I think that one of the best and most obvious ways we can accomplish that is by harnessing the power of AI to create new ways for established players to work with rising talents and share their skills.

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That’s what my third and latest Music Liberates Music collaboration with BACARDÍ is all about. Our goal is always to uplift and expose up-and-coming new artists, and up-and-coming ideas to discover how the evolution of technology can catalyze positive change in our communities. In 2021 we focused on how NFTs could create an entirely new revenue model for artists. In 2022 we revolutionized how fans could discover music through a one-of-a-kind apparel collection. This time around, we’re harnessing the power of generative AI to create a cool little record called The Concept A.I.bum. We’re training a generative AI program on a selection of my beats, enabling it to create music in my style.

From there, we’ll work with five emerging artists hand-picked from around the globe who will each have the opportunity to test out multiple demos using those AI-generated beats. Finally, I’ll enter the studio with them one-on-one to finalize a single incredible track. I hope The Concept A.I.bum will show that when used responsibly, AI can inspire new music, increase collaboration, and help rising artists take their careers to the next level by improving the quality of their demos while preserving that ever-important human touch.

Over the past year or so, I’ve become increasingly interested in the capabilities of AI: How it works, what can be done with it, and how I can use it to complement what I’m already doing as a producer. Music technology is always evolving, and just as synthesizers and DDJs (Digital Disc Jockey) have revolutionized music making in previous decades, AI is starting to change the game for today’s generation. There’s so much potential to use it for good that I’m excited to unlock and explore.

The AI tool that we’re building with BACARDÍ for this year’s Music Liberates Music campaign will take my music, my stems, and my catalog, and program it in a way that can compute hundreds of outputs I never even thought possible. It takes my brain and supercharges it, as it mixes tracks that I might not even have thought possible. It helps not only with efficiency, but scale as well, and since we’re only using it to work on this EP with these five artists, our work is still meticulously managed and protected. This technology wouldn’t function without me, and it’s so much just an extension of my own self, so I find that this AI tool is a new, more efficient way of doing work. By working with AI, we have the power to unlock near-limitless creative possibilities and provide opportunities to collaborate in ways we could never previously imagine.
Musicians and artists can embrace AI responsibly by using it to improve productivity, and to make music of a better quality while maintaining its integrity. You’re feeding your best into the AI [program], so it’s just going to come out the best quality every time. Whereas, as a human being you might get up one day, and think, “I don’t feel like doing this. I don’t feel like doing that.” So, AI can be a complementary tool, and not just on days where you’re feeling off your A-game.

As a producer, I often wish I could do more—be in more than one place at once, collaborate with more people, work on more tracks—but there are very human, physical limitations to doing so. Through the AI technology I’m building with BACARDÍ for this campaign, I can work with a wider group of artists at the same time, before still getting into the studio with them to put that final magic human touch on the track.
It’s always important to protect the integrity of your music, but at the end of the day, nobody’s going to be able to do what I can do—or what any artist can do—and that’s what makes music so relatable to our fans and transcendent for generations. AI will never be able to replicate a person’s unique human experiences and the deeply complicated, never linear, human rollercoaster of emotions.
You’ll always feel the authenticity of a true artist, and a true artist will always find their voice, regardless of technology.

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