Art has always been intertwined with the advancement of technology in a fundamental harmony. The two work together, bringing forward incredible innovation in the pursuit of expression. As microphones and studio equipment became more accessible, so did popular music and the revolution of the medium. For as long as there has been artistic expression, technology has transformed the way we create, consume, and interact with it.
AI has become the buzzword of this past year, but since the dawn of machine learning, entertainment has been at the forefront of propelling the toolset by incorporating it into creative workflows. With its recent exponential increase in usability, AI is reshaping the way we develop artistic work, allowing for simple concept synthesis and even delivery of these works. In this article, I’ll be focusing on audio, diving into the present and future of sound, music, and immersion.
Generative audio has emerged as a powerful tool for creating mesmerizing sonic compositions. By utilizing complex algorithms and deep learning techniques, AI can help develop music and soundscapes. Leveraging this, artists can compose and synthesize audio that used to require complicated and expensive recording techniques. Now, with the introduction of logic, sound can be randomized and varied automatically, allowing for ongoing and constantly changing experiences.
With the implementation of procedural audio, soundscapes can be played forever with or without human intervention, creating endless possibilities and incentivizing the exploration of new sonic landscapes. In the case of AI, algorithms analyze patterns and characteristics of existing audio data and generate new compositions based on that knowledge. Spatial allows research based content to be created programmatically so that it can adapt based on varying data and user input. With generative sounds and object by object control, this becomes personalized so listeners can dial in their exact preferences and access deep customization features.
This process can lead to the discovery of novel sounds, harmonies and textures that push the boundaries of traditional music; combining this with biophilic sound design melds natural and synthetic sounds which can create musical experiences beyond the song. As the rise of immersive experiences proves to be a model for further brand activation architecture, sound is still struggling to make its way to the forefront of design, but is an obvious component in the evolution of consumer expectations.
With AI-powered tools, musicians and producers can harness large quantities of data available to analyze and predict trends, create personalized recommendations and generate compositions on the fly. In 2021, artificial intelligence completed Beethoven’s unfinished Tenth Symphony, by pushing “the boundaries of what creative A.I. could do by teaching the machine Beethoven’s creative process - how he would take a few bars of music and painstakingly develop them into stirring symphonies, quartets and sonatas.” [Smithsonian Magazine].
In other use cases, Spotify, the largest on-demand music service in the world, is using data collected from its listeners to train the algorithms and machines to listen to music and leverage insights that impact its business and the experience of listeners. Spotify uses this same data to empower the artist with Spotify for Artists by providing streaming analytics as well as access to fan insights. [Forbes] The trends co-work with musicians and content creators, encouraging users to build stronger attachment to Spotify.
This technology has not only increased efficiency but has also democratized the creative process, allowing aspiring artists to access resources and tools that were once reserved for a select few. But one challenge as the AI content channel continues to flourish, who is protecting the likeness of musicians and producers?
In the clash between artificial intelligence's rapid progress and the creative domain, artists find themselves confronted with the daunting challenges posed by copywriting in an era where originality battles against algorithmic replication. It’s unclear today what is and what is not a derivative work, and how that plays into composition that utilizes AI; we’re beyond stealing a chord progression and into tone replication and synthesized recreation. In response, the US government has looked to the Copyright Office, launching an initiative to examine the copyright law and policy issues raised by AI technology. The Harvard Business Journal wrote, “While it may seem like these new AI tools can conjure new material from the ether, that’s not quite the case. Generative AI platforms are trained on data lakes and question snippets — billions of parameters that are constructed by software processing huge archives of images and text…. This process comes with legal risks, including intellectual property infringement.”
When it comes to audio files, the industry is no stranger to copyright infringement. Wombo’s Ryan Khurana told The Verge, “music has by far the most complex copyright rules because of the different types of licensing, the variety of rights-holders, and the various intermediaries involved,” he went on to say, “given the nuances [of the legal questions surrounding AI], I think the entire generative field will evolve into having a licensing regime similar to that of music.”
At the end of the day, both of those things need to be held in balance; creative technology and intellectual property. As companies implement AI, this standard should hold true in order to keep up with evolving technology and talent, to meet the demands of listeners, and keep with the incentives to protect the artists.
Object based audio software has advanced immersive audio by simulating realistic 3D environments, enhancing virtual and augmented reality applications. Looking ahead, the promising frontier lies in the applications of generative sounds in physical spaces, where AI-generated soundscapes can transform museums, interactive installations, and public spaces into captivating and dynamic environments.
With AI-driven audio algorithms, we can achieve higher sound quality in procedural audio and optimize the experience for individual users, blurring the boundaries between reality and virtual worlds and enhancing user control over said experience. As we continue to push the boundaries of AI and audio, we can expect a future where creative expression and immersive experiences reach new heights, enriching our lives and captivating our senses in ways we could only dream of before.
Wyatt Giampa is Spatial’s Creative Producer focusing on building an ecosystem for creative minds to succeed in the new world of immersive audio software. With a background in audio engineering and media arts, Wyatt has years of experience building real-world experiences with Spatial.