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The cost of automation: How AI will affect the livelihoods of working musicians

June 20, 2023

This essay is an excerpt from What’s Good: Creativity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, a zine we’ve co-created with Refraction that focuses on insights, learnings, and creative applications of AI technology.

The promise of the AI hype cycle was that it was going to do all the jobs we didn’t want to do, freeing us from mindless drudgery to embrace our “uniquely” human gift of creativity and knowledge creation.

For many, the vision of replacing drudgery had a lot more to do with spreadsheets than with creative industries. However, recent advances with creative AI have caused equal parts excitement and existential fear as artists grapple with the implications of an increasingly automated future.

Copywriting, graphic design, and music creation would not be the first artistic vocations to feel the effects of automation. Hand-woven rugs are still a high-ticket luxury item today, but those making their living as rug weavers are few and far between. Manufacturing rugs is way faster and cheaper, and that is great for most consumers who just need a rug.

Is this music’s destiny? How close are we already?

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