Why AI-made Song Will Not be as Popular as Human-made One
Tue, 30 Apr 2019 || By Janitra Haryanto

Art is not human-exclusive

AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been immensely growing in less than a decade, and it is understandable for us to be worried about its capability to substitute the jobs we rely on today. Cases have shown that AI has not only capable of carrying the role of a human in the industrial sector but also in creative industries, such as music production. For instance, we have been aware of Amper[1] moreover, Flow Machine[2] – AI-based music assistants which can compose a harmonious musical arrangement without human interference. In the other side, we have also been aware of the existence of virtual creators, such as Bermuda and Miquela[3], which can earn social status as Instagram influencers.

Today, virtual personality is still short of songwriting skill. They are still run by a man and cannot learn and create something independently. However,  the integration of virtual personality and AI-based music software which can independently produce a song in future time has the opportunity of becoming real – How if, one day, without the interference of man, a virtual personality like Bermuda can make music by its own and becomes more favorable to music enthusiasts rather than Taylor Swift’s song? Assuming that such condition would exist, I argue that it will not be competitive to the human-made song because, in the pop music industry, the popularity of a song is not only determined by the quality of the product, but also the stories of the artists.

Personal stories and pop songs

            Drake and Pusha T have been squabbling for years, and the bad blood has reached its peak in midst 2018. Right when their conflict reached its peak, Google Trends noted that the search of Drake had been quadrupled and the search of Pusha T had increased nearly 50 times greater than the previous weeks.[4] Next to the height of their conflict, Pusha T’s “DAYTONA” was the highest-charting album on the Billboard 200 and Drake’s “Scorpion” reached its platinum status. Both sides put criticism upon each other in their songs – Pusha T’s “THE STORY OF ADIDON” and Drake’s new album.

            The story of how Drake and Pusha T made use of their personal experience to boost their record sales and streams tells that the popularity of a song is not only determined by the quality of the song alone. Their personal story was the fuel of the song marketing, aside from the song itself. This is the gap that will divide AI personality and human-being.

How AI-made songs will be short of marketing strategy

AI personality will, nevertheless, be a machine. It will not have a real-life story that could be exploited to gain massive attraction among listeners. Even when the AI personality is going to be branded as a fellow human-being, complete with an illustrated human-like life, its song will still be unable to compete for the popularity of human-made song because of its lacking element of reality.

Take the example of Miquela Sousa – a digital, human-made personality and Instagram public figure who has produced several songs, including the song “Hate Me” which was co-produced by music producer Baauer.[5] The lyric of "Hate Me" tells just about what other human songs tell– love and relationship.[6] With over 1.5 million followers on Instagram and 3 million listeners of "Hate Me," Miquela is arguably the most famous digital pop personality. However, when compared to real pop personalities such as Ariana Grande, the number is still far beyond equal.

Ariana has over 151 million Instagram followers and 700 million listeners of "thank u, next." After being debuted, the song which tells about how she rose from a series of unfortunate events that involved her ex-boyfriend’s passing and her breakup with her ex-fiancée was situated comfortably on the first rank of Billboard 200 and earned the reputation as the biggest streaming week ever for a pop album.[7]

Looking at the comparison between "Hate Me" and "thank u, next," it is arguable that the upper hand of Ariana's song is due to the personal story which is heavily exploited by the media and abundantly sympathized by the public. Ariana's grief and desperation were such an international phenomenon that it earned so much attention by many fans and communities. In the other hand, the coverages of Miquela’s personal non-existent life by some internet media[8] are not more than stories of how the life of virtual personality can somehow be tailored to look real.

In the future when virtual personality can already produce a song by its own, the famous story will also revolve around the amazement on how a virtual personality can independently make music by its own. Despite its newness, just like another story of technological advancement, it expires when the new technology turns common.

Even when someday AI personality is perceived as an independent being which can portray feelings within its artwork, it will harness less sympathy among the public due to the lacks of a human-being element within the portrayal. Since AI does not have a real life which undergoes the phases of human life, it is programmed to learn from the reality and thus, the sense of feeling it represents will be fabricated – it is the product of deep learning by crawling and analyzing data from human interaction on the internet. 

Finally, with the missing element of human-being, it may possess, it will be challenging for AI personality to gain more loyalty from the public, and consequentially, the song it may produce will be lacking an exploitable and relatable personal story – an indispensable variable to garner popularity of a song.

Editor: Anisa Pratita Mantovani

Read another article written by Janitra Haryanto


[1] Deahl, D. (2018). How AI-Generated Music is Changing The Way Hits are Made. The Verge (Online). Available at: https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/31/17777008/artificial-intelligence-taryn-southern-amper-music. [Accessed on April, 16th 2019].

[2] Ibid.

[3] Robitzski, D. (2018). Robot Showboat: Now Even Our Celeb Feuds Are Automated. Futurism (Online). Available at: https://futurism.com/robot-revolution-even-celeb-feuds-automated. [Accessed on April, 16th 2019].

[4] J.S. (2018). Music feuds can be a Lucrative marketing tool. The Economist (Online). Available at: https://www.economist.com/prospero/2018/08/17/music-feuds-can-be-a-lucrative-marketing-tool. [Accessed on April 12th 2019].

[5] Love, T. (2017). Do androids dream of electric beats? How AI is changing music for good. The Guardian (Online). Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/oct/22/ai-artificial-intelligence-composing. [Accessed at: April, 16th 2019].

[6] A.n. (2017). Hate Me. Genius (Online). Available at: https://genius.com/Baauer-and-miquela-hate-me-lyrics. [Accessed at: April, 16th 2019].

[7] A.n. (2018). Ariana Grande's 'Thank U, Next' Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200 Chart With Biggest Streaming Week Ever for a Pop Album. Billboard (Online). Available at: https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/8498762/ariana-grande-thank-u-next-debuts-at-no-1-on-billboard-200-chart-album. [Accessed at: April, 16th 2019].

[8] Stutz, C. (2017). Virtual Singer & Internet Star Miquela Shares Debut Single 'Not Mine.' Billboard (Online). Available at: https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/7898117/miquela-virtual-singer-instagram-not-mine-song-stream. [Accessed at: April, 16th 2019].