New ‘ethical’ AI music generator can’t even write a half-decent song


Of course, our test The artists Jane asked pushed beyond the boundaries of the questions a “normal” person might ask, leaning more toward a “record store clerk” level of familiarity with recorded sound. For example, Cleveland failed to get anything good from a query for “mid-tempo California garage rock influenced by ’70s Indonesian pop,” while Haywood expressed disappointment that Jane didn’t recognize his request for “city pop,” a type of Japanese music that came to prominence in the mid-’70s and has seen a modest resurgence in popularity in recent years. But for Haywood, that kind of breadth of music is essential, especially as a composer.

Haywood explains, “A lot of musicians or producers, when asking each other for something, they use bands and other artists as reference points, like, ‘We’re going to adopt a Prince-type sound,’ or, ‘Let’s add some clavinet, like Stevie Wonder.’” Jane lacks an understanding of current recording artists and even some common styles and instruments, so it becomes difficult to arrive at something specific.

“I kept trying to get some warmth out of it, like vinyl hiss or saturation or something lo-fi or vintage sounding, but everything it produced had the same kind of hi-fi, video-game-menu-screen-type sound,” says Haywood. “They also give you ‘lo-fi’ as a quick suggestion, but that doesn’t do much. If you’re trying to get a specific sound, like ’80s funk, the most you can get is a Daft Punk-like sound.”

Every electric guitar sound produced by the Wired and Testers sounded almost too clean, and it was nearly impossible to produce a track that wasn’t in a 4/4 time signature, unless you used the word “waltz” in the prompt.

Shara Senderoff, Jane’s co-founder, says some of this is to be expected. The tool is in its alpha stage, and the 10-second and 45-second tracks it creates are “meant to inspire and provide a starting point for creativity, not necessarily be final products,” she says. New capabilities are coming, and since Jane was trained using a limited data set, it has room to grow and “will expand significantly in the beta stage,” Senderoff says.

Everything that Jane created Haywood says that under the guise of rock music, it was akin to a “clip art version” of the genre. Cleveland managed to create a few songs that “sounded like they could be used in a car commercial” or that were “heading into Black Keys territory”, but more than anything, she felt all of Jane’s musical suggestions were just absurd.

“I felt like if I was just having fun with my friends, that’s the kind of music I would make, and joke about the cliches of other genres,” she says. “I saw some of the songs on a really bad Netflix dating show, but I didn’t feel personally threatened by what I made.”

But what about all the people who create the tracks you hear on the Netflix dating show? Could Jane be a threat to their jobs? Almost certainly, according to Blickel.

“If you’re a producer with a small budget and you’re just trying to get your content out, now you can say, ‘I’m not even going to pay a designer or animator. I can just use an image generator,'” he says. “The same is true for music budgets. If they can’t pay anything for something that was going to cost them $2,000, great, someone will think they have $2,000 in their pocket.”


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