Can AI replace musicians on stage? - Hindustan Times

Can AI replace musicians on stage?

Apr 01, 2023 12:10 PM IST

AI is changing the way music is created and listened to, but it won’t affect live shows, feel musicians

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to rapidly advance, there is a growing concern that it may eventually replace human musicians on stage. While AI has already made inroads in areas like beat creation, songwriting, and generating melodies, some musicians and fans remain sceptical about the idea of this tool replacing live performers. They argue that live shows involve much more than just the music and that the emotional connection between the artiste and audience cannot be replicated by a machine.

Indian musicians including Arjun Kanungo and Yashraj Mukhate don't think AI will replace a musician onstage, anytime soon.
Indian musicians including Arjun Kanungo and Yashraj Mukhate don't think AI will replace a musician onstage, anytime soon.

“I don’t think it will replace a real musician on the stage, not any time soon, at least. There’s a lot that goes into a live show, and it’s not just a song that people come to listen to when they attend a gig. There’s a connection one has with the artiste, and it will take some time for AI to replace that,” says singer-composer Arjun Kanungo, who doesn’t, however, rule out AI’s increasing involvement in the music-creating process.

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Similarly, Dev Raiyani, an Indian hip-hop artiste and digital content creator, argues that AI can never replace musicians: “I have a personal connection with the musicians I love. I love their story because I relate to it, something AI can never make a human feel.” Raiyani also points out that AI has been known to use copyrighted data to create music, which is not fair to the years of effort that musicians and artistes put into their work. “But then again, we are living in a world where ‘being fair’ is far from the picture,” he says, adding, “I don’t know where we will be in 10 years; I just know music will live on, far from the boundaries of artificially intelligent life.”

Vineet Singh Hukmani, a chart-topping artiste, emphasises that “music is not just about sounds and beats, but also about emotion and chemistry between musicians and the audience”. While some musicians like Rohan Solomon and Aditya Mohanan (metal outfit Midhaven) acknowledge the potential of AI to help musicians create “more complex and innovative sounds”, they ultimately believe that it “cannot replace the raw emotion and spontaneity of live performances”. Solomon says, “Music is an art form that requires the human touch. It’s about the connection between the artiste and the audience, the raw emotion, and the spontaneity of a live performance. AI cannot replicate that.”

Yashraj Mukhate, music producer and digital content creator, too agrees that while AI may help artistes generate better ideas, it cannot replace the human touch needed to create live music. “Smartphones have replaced so many devices like a radio, calculator, navigator, etc., but it still requires a human to get the desired output. AI will definitely help and make things easier, but a human will always be required to give input,” says Mukhate, who also sees the potential for AI to help artistes come up with better ideas, but is unsure about its monetary effects. “It’s too early to tell,” he says.

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