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🔵 Could music journalists and PR people be the future of music?
Turns out two challenged roles in music might have the last laugh after all...
Hi there -
As I wrote in yesterday’s Network Notes, I think no one would deny that music journalists have damn-near been put to the sword by the absolute collapse in music websites due to ad income drying up. There’s a reason you now find the likes of, , Muggs and others writing on Substack; it has provided a means for them to directly reach audiences and monetise that, which is amazing.
Similarly, I see that PR people are equally challenged - not a shock when so many music websites have vanished and the general impact and influence of them has diminished but for a limited few.
But what if I told that you that in fact these two professions may soon prove to be key players in music?
Allow me to elaborate….
Right now, pretty much everything in AI is led by the prompt: a text-based input to describe to the platform what you are envisaging. It then takes this information and processes it into an output, be that copy, an image… or music.
I am firmly of a view that in time, sample platforms like Splice will get threatened (if not wiped out) by AI music creation platforms. However these platforms exist on a “Garbage In, Garbage Out” basis, and therefore your ability to get a great result hangs on your means to describe something extremely well.
Hence the ironic turning of the tables here: I’d argue that in time, music journalists, who have spent their lives writing about music in all manner of beautiful creative ways, will soon be the prized authors of the next wave of AI-generated music and samples.
It may sound like anathema now, but in a few years this might well be the norm - and if only because I hate how music journalism has suffered in the last ten years, I’m all for it. There’s something karmic about it.
“What about the PR people then?” I hear you ask.
In my experience, great PR people know their artists inside and out. They understand everything about their vision, and the values they carry. What I think a lot of people miss about that is that in reality, this makes them phenomenal brand managers for that artist.
Case in point: I have worked with Ben Harris here in the UK across all things Run The Jewels for a good 6 years or more. But Ben has worked as El-P’s PR man for… longer than I remember. I believe it might be the entire duration of El’s solo career.
For this reason though, Ben knows everything about what works and what does not for El. If I need a sense check on something, Ben is the guy I’d ask. I still laugh at the memory of him patiently explaining to someone at a label once that “El has built his entire career on never compromising. Ever. So if you think he’s prepared to compromise here, you are wrong. It will never happen.”
And Ben was absolutely right.
The world of press might be increasingly threatened, but those involved in it may just have glowing futures. Music journalists might be drafting the mind-blowing music of tomorrow, letting words turn into insane aural experiences, and PR people could be guiding the brand values of artists, especially those they have been around for some time now.
Proof if proof was needed that everything happens in cycles.
Have a great evening,
🎶 listening to “Blood Sandwich” by Aesop Rock. I could listen to Aesop rapping alllllll day. His delivery is wonderful, and he’s now officially recognised as the most articulate rapper out there. All of which is great, but great music “just works” without a need to justify it. That’s the case here; a brilliant tale being told - with huge amounts of humour - a killer hook… just incredible. Hearing a rapper run through the dramas of turning up in a Ministry t-shirt and horrifying the parents is… well, take a listen. It’s gold.
🤖 playing with RipX DAW Pro, the latest update to the RipX platform, now with even more AI (surprise surprise!). It’s too early to say how much better this is as I’ve not had time to really get into it, but by all accounts it’s an even bigger step up on the stem separation front, which is exciting.
An irony I see around me now is that music is everywhere, and yet the storytelling around music - those personal tales about why an album means so much to someone, or how it affected them, or otherwise why it just warrants anything from 30 to 90 minutes of your time - seems to be getting harder and harder to find.
So, I have started a second publication,, which will highlight albums considered by the author to be a slept-on classic; a real gem worthy of your time.
I also won’t be writing this one alone. No, I have asked all manner of friends and colleagues across the music industry to also get involved.
Stories from the Music Industry:
Music funding platform beatBread launches advances of up to $3m for songwriters, hires BMG’s Spencer LeBoff
beatBread uses an AI algorithm dubbed ChordCashAI to analyze an artist’s streaming and social data to generate an offer. Its automated system means the advance can land in an artist’s bank account within days of applying. The artist then repays the advance as a percentage of their revenue, over a period of time the artists can choose for themselves. The platform currently offers advances ranging from $1,000 to more than $3 million, and as of late last year, the company had paid out advances to some 500 artists and labels across multiple genres, six continents, and a broad range of career stages via chordCashAI.
👆🏻Hot take: after seeing a presentation from BeatBread at FFWD last year I’ve been fascinated by them. After all, why sign to larger label if you can secure necessary funding through this platform instead?
The latest example is artist Lauv’s partnership with AI startup Hooky and K-Pop artist Kevin Woo. It involved creating a Korean-language version of his new single ‘Love U Like That’. Woo translated the lyrics, re-cut the vocals then added a ‘Lauv AI effect’ to make his singing sound like Lauv. Cue a new version of the track that has been released, including a making-of video showing how it was done.
👆🏻Hot take: not the first artist I’ve heard of doing this (I believe the other is not public yet), but in time I’m expecting AI re-recorded vocals in local languages to become a norm sooner rather than later.
It will launch on 14 December in North America, with its centrepiece being a $9.99-a-month ‘Streaming All Access Plan’ that will combine music, talk and podcasts, and sports. The new app has redesigned discovery, playback and search features. CEO Jennifer Witz described the launch as “a pivotal moment in our history, one that kicks off a new era of innovation at our company”. Besides being a key component of the new app and subscription tier, music is the focus for a number of new guest channels and shows on SiriusXM’s network.
👆🏻Hot take: as Music Ally note, this must surely leave questions over Pandora and where the two services differ (if at all).
Reading between the lines, it sounds like Spotify is getting some sort of special treatment and that other app developers would want the same if they learned the terms of the deal. In discussion, Epic lead attorney Gary Bornstein said as much. “There is a rate set much much lower than the rates you’ve been hearing about at trial, and that is going to be an important part of what you’re going to be hearing about,” he told the judge.
👆🏻Hot take: the suggestion here is that Spotify broke from the anti-App Store mob to do a backroom deal that suited it, leaving everyone else to their own battle. Curious, if so…
Stories from the Broader World of Tech:
YouTube is debuting a new For You section for creators’ channels, personalized to whoever opens the page. It will start showing up on November 20th, according to a post from YouTube’s support account, which says the section will recommend “a mix of content from your channel to viewers based on their watch history.”
👆🏻Hot take: really curious to see how this manifests on artists channels. A chance to unearth deep cuts, live versions and other potentially slept-on clips maybe?
Anna Thomas, the director and co-founder of the Institute for the Future of Work thinktank, rejected Mehta’s analogy. “Clearly, equating ‘beasts of burden’ with human workers is wrong,” she said. “Yes, the adoption of new technologies has always brought about changes and transitions to new jobs. But our research offers strong evidence that engaging worker expertise through the process of AI adoption supports net job gains and improvements in job quality. “Complaints and strikes are made more likely when companies fail to treat workers with respect.”
👆🏻Hot take: a pretty indefensible analogy here, but it is yet another lesson in correctly handling change and ensuring you’re not spreading fear and loathing. Hopelessly failed on that front here.
Launched earlier this year, SGE is Google’s answer to Bing Chat, the OpenAI-powered AI chatbot experience available through Bing search and Microsoft’s Edge browser. Similar to Bing Chat, SGE lets web users interact with an AI using natural language. Users can ask questions and receive responses that aren’t just a list of links, as Google has historically offered, but are fully-formed answers delivered in complete sentences, with references cited.
👆🏻Hot take: I cannnot wait for this to get integrated to Google Assistant, which is feeling painfully archaic now when compared to something like ChatGPT.
Need something else to read? Here you go:
Retailers would rather complain about shoplifting than invest in fighting it.
👆🏻Hot take: I really noticed how in NYC pretty much everything was getting locked behind cabinets in spots like CVS. According to this article though, most chains are doing precious little about shoplifting, which I find truly odd.
There are scientific reasons why we’re so drawn to lakes, rivers, and oceans.
👆🏻Hot take: I don’t think its a massive shock to learn that being closer to elements of nature relaxes us. Nonetheless, this is still an interesting read.
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