Last week, Warner Music Group became the first major record label to sign a distribution deal for music created by an algorithm. Endel, the German audio company that designed the algorithm, creates “personalized, sound-based, adaptive environments” (their words!) to help people focus and relax. The partnership will see the release of 20 albums, featuring 600 tracks, on streaming services during 2019. Titles include ‘Rainy Night’ and ‘Cloudy Afternoon’.
The original press release overhyped the deal and the internet got a little over-excited (no, algorithms aren’t the new rock stars ;) But, this story does point towards two seismic shifts that every business person should be paying close attention to:
Art-ificial intelligence. We know machines will take over many human jobs. But many in the creative class – although we hope not too many of our readers! – cling on to the idea that their job is too complex or emotional to be automated. Indeed, the wonderful / terrifying willrobotstakemyjob.com suggests that music directors and composers are “totally safe”, having just a 1.5% risk of automation. Until now 😬. However, switched-on observers won’t be surprised: in recent months we’ve seen Christie’s auction an AI-created artwork for USD 432,000; Kylie Jenner having her ‘makeup’ done by an AI; and now, in the case of Endel AI-generated music sitting alongside human-produced tracks. Yes, many of today’s machine-led creative endeavors are novelties. But exponential change is always invisible at first, just think back to the awkward early days of e-commerce. Which of your ‘creative’ outputs could be produced by algorithms?
Sentient soundtracks. Endel’s core business sees it take listeners’ real-time data – such as their location and even their heart rate – to deliver personalized, wellbeing-boosting soundtracks. Earlier this week we featured the contextually-aware art exhibition on the Stockholm metro, also designed to reflect and improve the city’s mood. Dynamic personalization is no longer confined to the online world. People are becoming accustomed to SENTIENT SPACES: spaces and experiences that dynamically react to and reflect the data of those engaging with them. Of course, sensitivities around personal data are increasing. But so are people’s expectations of personalization. So ask yourself: which new forms of personal data would customers embrace you capturing to create more relevant products and services?