Beats By AI

It’s easy to get caught up in the crazy daily headlines of AI and miss many of the positive things that generative AI is starting to enable.  Sure, there’s Google’s crazy AI search results (see below), squabbles between OpenAI and ScarJo, and lots of deep-in-the-weeds AI security and economic worries.

On the other hand, there are marketers who are using AI to write client copy in a fraction of the time it took a year ago and station staff that now create incredible images to accompany social media posts that get thousands of additional impressions because of the creativity. At Jacobs Media, Fred has recently begun to use AI to create images for the JacoBLOG to great effect.

This week, I’m drawn to two AI stories that are worth your time. They elaborate on AI as a transformative tool that enables innovation.

First off, in a Sunday interview, Netflix veteran Ted Sarandos expounds on his beliefs that AI will grow the entertainment business:

  • “I think that AI is a natural kind of advancement of things that are happening in the creative space today. …Writers, directors, editors will use AI as a tool to do their jobs better and to do things more efficiently and more effectively. And in the best case, to put things onscreen that would be impossible to do. Think about this gigantic leap from hand-drawn animation to computer-generated animation, and look how many more people animation employs today than it used to. … So every advancement in technology in entertainment has been fought and then ultimately has turned out to grow the business. I don’t know that this would be any different.”

Secondly, in a conversation printed below with WXPN’s Bruce Warren, he discusses the incredible usage of AI in music creation worldwide, and, importantly, that GenY and GenZ, who grew up in a 100%-digital culture, are embracing AI to create new sounds that blend and evolve existing genres.

These new approaches that use AI in both music and movies demand more than a “we’ll-do-it-because-we-have-to” mentality. It’s an embrace of the technology to experience the thrill of the unknown and the excitement of creating content that’s truly special — in ways you never knew were possible.
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AI EDGE Headlines

Spotify Prepares Spanish AI DJ to Complement DJ X

Fifteen months after the introduction of DJ-X, Spotify’s AI-DJ who peppers users’ playlists with personalized anecdotes, the streaming giant is prepping a Spanish-speaking version. ‘DJ-Livi.’  This is the first expansion for Spotify’s AI DJs and is expected to be available in Mexico, with the potential for broader use wherever Spanish is spoken.  References to the new DJ-Livi were discovered in the app’s code and published last week. It appears users would be able to switch the AI DJ’s language from English to Spanish.

OpenAI Inks $250 Million News Corp Licensing Deal 
There’s a new vein of revenue for the News Corp news publications, including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, Barron’s, and other international publications. The Murdoch-headed corporation has licensed its organization’s content to OpenAI in a five-year deal that is reportedly worth $250 million in cash and services.  This follows OpenAI licensing deals made by Associated Press, Le Monde, Politico, and the Financial Times.
A Running List of Media Orgs Partnering With or Suing OpenAI

Bruce Warren – 
Chief of a Lot of Stuff, WXPN/Philadelphia

I asked ChatGPT to give me three adjectives to describe Bruce Warren. Its reply: passionate, influential, dedicated. Seems pretty spot-on when you read his CV. Since the 1980s, Warren has guided the music and programming of WXPN/Philadelphia and its flagship music program World Café, NPR’s most listened to music program. When he’s not at the station, Warren teaches classes on music and media at UPenn and Temple. And in his “spare time,” he’s been a passionate advocate for Americana and public radio and hosts the NON-COMMvention, a summit for AAA public radio decision makers.

The most recent NON-COMMvention just wrapped up and included a meaty session on AI. Bruce and I spoke last week about AI in music and radio.  The conversation will appear in two parts; part one is about AI in music and has been edited for clarity. – Chris

CB: In May 2024, what is your thinking about AI?
BW: I’m embracing understanding what AI is all about, much in the same way that I embraced MP3 music blogs and the early days of social media. I’ve always been curious about tech and its impact on consumption. It’s been really interesting to see the breadth of comments and thoughtfulness – or lack of thoughtfulness – from a lot of my colleagues in radio. I’m having conversations with people at other radio stations and with people who sign bands. The true believers tend to be the technologists and the digital people and less of the distribution people, the marketing people, and the content creators.

CB: At the NON-COMMvention summit, you played industry veterans music clips from real bands and clips that were AI-generated. Then you asked the panel and audience to guess which was which. In many instances, the music pros couldn’t tell which was which. Did you find that surprising?
BW: No, I didn’t. AI is that good, and it’s going to get even better. The people who produce audio content with AI are really, really good at what they do. They’re learning that, ultimately, it’s all about the prompts and how to tweak the prompts to get you to a place that makes the song feel more authentic.

I recently was listening to a record by an amapiano [an EDM-Afrobeat music genre] artist who I’m a huge fan of. I didn’t realize it was an AI record until later when I read an article about it in Forbes.

There’s a technical back-end to AI that I don’t understand either as a musician or a technical producer. But I have twentysomethings here at the station who are musicians and producers. They’re in their rooms late night experimenting with these new music programs; they’re sampling sounds; they’re creating their own sounds and putting them through AI plugins. It’s amazing to see how they use this stuff.

I’ve been encouraging Raina Douris, the host of World Cafe, and our contributing host Kallao to ask all the bands they interview how they feel about AI because I’m really curious what musicians are thinking about. I have friends here in Philly who are musicians and who work in studios mastering and mixing, and when I’m hanging out with them, AI is what they’re talking about.

CB: The divide between pro- and anti-AI music reminds me of the disco-rock divide of the late 1970s.
BW: There were a lot of rock fans who dismissed disco for reasons that had to do with race and culture as opposed to the musical elements of it, right? I think that’s important to recognize. In my perspective, the openness and appreciation for current AI tends to come from people who tend to be more open to digital technology and who tend to be younger and more diverse.

CB: So, you see a generational divide?
BW: Twenty and thirtysomethings tend to be more digital because this is the only world they know. They are more open to understanding it, experimenting with it, and innovating with it. They don’t know another time when “analog” culturally meant “more authenticity.”

There’s a sociological thing happening. Generations are so different.

I was at an AI presentation at Drexel University. There were a whole bunch of fifty- and sixty-year-old producers who produced every single song that came out of the Sound of Philadelphia. Then there were all these young people.

It really was like a line had cut right through the auditorium: all the old people lined up on the right, all the young people lined up on the left. All the people on the left were like, “Yes, we see AI’s potential!” and all the people on the right were saying, “AI will never replace the human element!”

And both are right.

CB: It doesn’t have to be an either-or situation.
BW: Right. The Drexel session feedback was overwhelmingly strong. It ranged from, “Holy ****, I need to pay more attention to this to see where it’s going,” to people who are standing their ground and saying, “We’re never gonna use it.”

Next week, Bruce Warren discusses the use of AI in radio

AI EDGE The Kicker
Google’s AI-Suggestions Get Sourced From ‘The Onion”
Google has introduced an experimental search feature called “AI Overviews,” reaching hundreds of millions of users. This feature uses generative AI to summarize search results, saving users from clicking on links. However, for unusual questions, the results can be inaccurate or dangerous. Google is working to address these issues, but it has become a PR challenge and a difficult task to manage.

For example, a recent AI Overview result stated that scientists recommend eating rocks — a suggestion learned from a headline in the satirical website The Onion.  Another Google results stated that the CIA used black highlighters — a “fact” learned from The Onion.

Originally published by Jacobs Media

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