Pete Townshend discusses the emergence of AI in the music industry

The world has just come to the abrupt realization that artificial intelligence has advanced rapidly and is now incapable of accomplishing tasks that were before unthinkable. All domains will be impacted, including the music industry naturally. Pete Townshend, guitarist and main songwriter for The Who, discussed how he believes this new technology would impact the business in an interview with Broken Record (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar). “Oh, yes, without a doubt. Like the Internet, I believe it will be helpful in a variety of ways that will surprise us when they occur. Of course, there is a very, very dark side to the internet. As a matter of fact, the long tail—which was anticipated at the outset of the internet—has gotten so congested that a very small number of artists are beginning to control the vast majority of streaming. You access a section of Spotify (Apple Music works similarly) where no one else is listening. And you hear the most amazing things.

You find it on Bandcamp or SoundCloud and hear it, and you’re like, “Who the fuck is this?” They’re outstanding! They may be brilliant, but they only have twelve fans. The actual events are rather unfortunate, as not all of those individuals could have ever achieved fame. We are accustomed to thinking of the star system as a location where a “black swan” is someone who is incredibly fortunate to be in the right place at the right moment. “But in terms of AI, I’m optimistic, but I won’t say that it will always be beneficial because I believe that we need to exercise caution when AI takes over as the machine’s primary driver. Right now, the artistic aspect of it is what worries me the most. I predict that the scenery will be entirely different by this time next year. We won’t be able to tell which way is up. “We won’t be able to distinguish between human and artificial intelligence-created content. Everything is going to become very hazy and unclear, and in 2023, we may look back and realize that was the last year where humans truly controlled the music industry.

It doesn’t make me happy to think that it might be that serious. Pete Townshend remarked, “I’m getting ready to feel upset about this because it makes me feel nervous. The Beatles just demonstrated what can be done, despite the fact that it is really impossible to anticipate what will happen in the music industry over the next few years using AI. AI “cleaned” the tape of John Lennon’s unfinished song “Now and Then” so that his voice could be heard and blended into the recording of the song, which also featured guitar parts that George Harrison had already recorded.

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