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Could AI be set to replace A&R in the future?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Written by: Amy Shaw

A&R teams have always been an integral part of the music industry, having a huge level of influence on the developing sound of music. A&R reps are responsible for scouting talent, and for overseeing the development of talent. Recently, as AI continues to grow in its capabilities, speculation has arisen over the possibility of A&R teams being replaced by AI. In the future, it is possible that software will be able to analyse music in order to sort tracks, predicting the likelihood of the track succeeding. Naturally, this sparked worry in the A&R world, with fears surfacing about whether jobs could be in jeopardy. But could AI really replace A&R?

The AI services out there

UK AI scouting tool, Instrumental, recently raised £3 million in order to grow the platform further. The main product offered by the programme monitors sources like Spotify, analysing trends in order to provide information for talent spotters and labels. With the huge level of investment, Instrumental are set to put further recourses into teaching machines to hunt down potential emerging artists, predicting trends before they even happen. In 2017, Instrumental expanded to become a platform selling subscription licenses giving access to TalentAI, so far Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music have all signed up for licenses. Instrumental’s founder Conrad Withey had this to say regarding the expansion:

“With this funding round we can focus on building better and better products for our existing and future clients.”

The need for AI

The problem A&Rs face is the constant overload of data they are forced to sift through in order to find the artists who really have potential. Spotify confirmed that it adds 20,000 new tracks every single day, a staggering amount. Instrumental’s scouting platform is already listening to 20,000 songs a day, proving that AI really is capable of handling demand. The truth is, AI can sort through thousands of tracks in seconds, something that would take A&R teams much longer. But are A&R teams really in trouble?

The need for human gut instinct

Although AI has the edge with speed, it is uncertain whether it could really replace human capabilities. Ultimately, humans are still needed to make the final decision regarding tracks. It is doubtful that labels would feel secure resting their decisions entirely on AI, making the need for human opinion a vital aspect of the process. A&R reps naturally have a gut instinct about whether a track has potential, and ultimately, it makes sense for a human to have more knowledge about what other humans will enjoy.

The integration of AI and human instinct

Ultimately, AI will never fully replace human A&Rs, but it could be set to cause drastic change in the music industry, for the better. In the near future, A&R teams will be able to utilise AI in order to make their jobs a whole lot easier. To really optimise the A&R process, AI will be used to cut down the amount of music reaching the ears of A&R reps, by sorting the tracks. The AI capabilities are so huge, that the software can learn from the A&R’s preferences and become in tune with their strategy and taste, taking a huge weight off their shoulders. Once the AI has sorted through thousands of tracks and procured the ones that are most likely to succeed, then the A&R can listen and pick out the best of the best.

In conclusion, the introduction of AI doesn’t need to scare A&R reps. The huge potential of AI in the music industry could undoubtedly provide a lot of much-needed help, particularly with the sheer volume of music out there. Ultimately, AI will never replace human intelligence; it should merely be regarded as an efficient tool to aid the industry in its growth. Gut instinct will always have the final call, but with AI consistently increasing in its capabilities, it seems that the music industry is set to experience a huge shift in coming years.



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