TikTok’s AI designer says bots won’t put songwriters out of work

Ed Newton-Rex founded and built music-making AI platform, Jukedeck

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Ed Newton-Rex, TikTok’s AI designer, has argued that AI tech will not put songwriters and musicians out of work and that the tool is a “very good thing” for the music business.

Newton-Rex once built a music-making AI platform, Jukedeck, which he sold to TikTok in 2019. These days, he works as VP of Audio at Stability AI.

With several years of experience working with AI and music technology, he has given his stance on the AI in music debate, and has said that the tech will not reduce work for artists, nor will it ruin music by taking away its human element.

In an interview with Music Business Worldwide, Newton-Rex reflected on a discussion he had at a dinner party in the early 2010s where someone had said they hoped he would fail in his AI endeavours, as they wanted music to remain “innately human”

He explained in the interview, “That’s definitely a take I’ve heard from some people in the music industry. But I also know a whole bunch of people in the music industry who take a very different view. Those are the people, I think, who realise the opportunity that generative AI can bring the music business.”

He continued, “I’ve never met anyone who works in this field who wants [AI-generated] music to be a threat to the music industry. Almost without exception, the people working in this field are, like me, musicians. And our friends are musicians!”

Newton-Rex told MBW he recently composed a piece using ChatGPT to write lyrics, adding: “Does that mean that I’m only going to [use] AI tech from now on, putting human [lyricists] out of a job? Absolutely not.

“AI will be at its most powerful [as] a tool used by musicians in countless different ways. Frankly, [that includes] ways that even people like me working in the industry today can’t yet predict,” he said. “I suspect we’ll look back in 10 years and think this was actually a very good thing for the music business.”

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