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Holly Herndon: ‘Cool AI tools will augment the producer’s palette’


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In Music Ally’s recent report on AI music (which you can read here if you missed it earlier this week) we cited Holly Herndon as one of the best examples of an artist leaning in to this technology for creative purposes. Now she’s published some thoughts on what AI means for musicians, in a tweet responding to a recent debate between fellow artists Grimes and Zola Jesus about the technology.

“AI tools will cut costs to make generic music, and there is a commercial incentive to progress this. Most research in music and AI is concerned with this… It will be easy to get a machine to dream up a beat for a certain style or copy a generic film score etc,” she wrote. But… “Drum machines made basic drumming accessible to musicians but didn’t replace *great* drummers. Cool AI tools will augment the producer’s palette.”

Herndon had plenty more to say, expressing her positivity rather than any existential dread. “In the near future, AI tools may allow for anyone to jam with a disembodied representation of an artist (hopefully with their permission and with fair compensation!) they admire in order to expand their skills and help defeat writers blocks. This is cool and I would like to work more on this idea! The ideal of technology and automation should allow us to be more human and more expressive together, not replace us all together.” However, we recommend reading her thoughts in full, because her concerns are just as relevant. “I’m not worried about robot overlords. I’m worried about democratically unaccountable transnational companies training us all to understand culture like a robot or narrow AI…”

Stuart Dredge

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