Research Is Like A Lamppost

After decades of ignoring music research, Warner Music Group will now recruit computers to find promising, new stars.

Good luck with that.

WMG might analyze data about Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. Their Sodatone software will create algorithms that find catchy beats and whale-catching hooks. Copycat acts will get signed while ‘different’ music gets discarded. Next, the promo teams beg for radio spins, book the act on Fallon and…Voila!

Meet the next Gaga Grande.

At music companies, the failure rate is stunning. So, they need a better gauge to assess talent. Music & Media Tech industry vet Ted Cohen sees value in A.I. “If it’s used as a ‘scouting tool’ to weed out weaker artists. But there’s an undefined magic that elevates an artist from ordinary to elegant where human evaluation is required.”

Here’s my take: Artificial Intelligence might find the next pop sensation. But will computers catch the subtleties and nuances? Will they feel the passion of Springsteen, the pizazz of Bruno Mars, the honesty of Taylor Swift?

Emmy award winning Music Producer Mike Flicker insists, “A.I. can help recognize the next one-hit wonder. So what! Who’s nurturing and developing the artists of the future? That’s what lights my wick.”

Credit WMG for aggressively seeking new talent, and relying on humans with ‘good ears’ to make the final judgements.

Just be forewarned. When the radio industry let data guide the way, it choked out all creativity. Their over-reliance on stats killed radios’ spirit of music discovery – and left the door wide open for Spotify, Amazon, and satellite radio.

Data can point the way, but it can’t predict the future. That’s why research is like a lamppost. It should be used to illuminate, not lean on.

Beau Phillips is President of Rainmaker Media. 
He’s a creative marketing consultant, strategist and speaker.
Reach him at 203-256-9347 

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