Artificial intelligence is changing our way of life by the minute. While this technology provides an ever-growing stream of new conveniences, most scientists agree that the logical endgame of the AI drama is human extinction.
Before we all get nuked by the robots we’ve created a-la The Terminator, artificial intelligence will likely lead to economic catastrophe as corporations outsource human jobs to autonomous technology. While similar advancements have long plagued the manufacturing industry, new advancements have put artists in the crosshairs. For example, the current television writers strike is not just about wages. A major stipulation for the Writers Guild of America involves contractual guarantees that jobs won’t be lost to artificial intelligence. In predictably cynical fashion, the studios won’t budge.
In April, Universal Music had a song with deep-faked vocals from Drake and The Weeknd removed from streaming services. In a statement, the label claims that “the training of generative AI using our artists’ music” was “a violation of copyright law”.
Apocalyptic as this all sounds, not all artists live in fear of artificial intelligence. In the case of M. Shadows, the Avenged Sevenfold frontman is excited by the possibilities. He told Decrypt’s “gm” podcast (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.COM):
“If you’re looking at purely this data brick of taking information and regurgitating it to us in some way, whether it’s through music or art or novels, literature — whatever it is — you’re basically taking everything humans have ever done or discovered and you’re giving it to this thing that can distribute it to you quicker and in a different way, can mix it up and do it in a different way.
“I think if you actually look at music, most fans aren’t mad that all the drums are already being resampled and replaced,” he continued. “Pro Tools already will quantize your albums and make it perfect. You can Auto-Tune your voice to do all these other things. But for some reason, they have a problem… And by the way, if you think about it, how you write music, 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, I’ve listened to all these things, and now I’m gonna regurgitate it in this way and spew out my own version of that.’ AI can be incredibly useful if you have AI doing some of that work for you. ‘Give me 20 versions of this chord change,’ or, ‘I wanna hear a different top line there,’ and you take a little thing that interests you and you go somewhere with it. So now you’re using AI to not only spark ideas but you’re using it in a much quicker way to kind of get to some of these cool little nuggets of gold that you kind of are, like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. Let me see where I can take that.’ So that’s not really AI writing a song for you; it’s kind of giving you this kind of jumping-off point of, ‘Now where can I be creative with it?’ And I think that will be the next step.”
He elaborated that AI creates opportunities for fans to use the work of their favorite bands as a mechanized learning tool for creating their own songs.
“What I think is cool is that… Listen, there’s a lot of fans that don’t wanna hear new Avenged Sevenfold. We’re 40 years old now and we’re going places that are much more eccentric than they want — some of ’em. They might want another version of ‘Waking The Fallen’ or ‘City Of Evil’, which are our old records. Now, 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.’ And if I was to give up my voice and say, ‘Take my voice,’ and AI create an album that kind of sounds like that. I think that’s incredibly cool. I think it would be really cool if people can prompt their own versions of what Avenged Sevenfold sounds like. You get the sounds you want, you get all these things, but now you’re getting different versions of albums that you like. So I think there’s something really cool there and nothing that crazy or wrong about it. I back it. I think it’d be cool. As a human, I’m gonna be going my own way and making my own stuff that I feel is kind of breaking the mold or pushing things forward. I’m giving the AI more data for the future, wherever I’m gonna take it. But I think it’s kind of cool. And 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.”