Spotify just can’t stay out of headlines… or away from “fake artists” stories. The world’s most popular subscription music service was accused last week of tapping producers to create tunes under bogus names (on flat fees) in a complicated attempt to game its own playlists and dodge royalty payments. Spotify point-blank denied the claims, which first appeared in a report published last August in Music Business Worldwide but bubbled up in a new feature by Vulture.
Now, U.K.-based MBW’s reporters have another juicy tale on Spotify and a key new hire: François Pachet, a Sony stalwart with world-leading expertise on Artificial Intelligence and its application to contemporary music.
Pachet is said to be waiting out his contract as Director of the Sony Computer Science Laboratory (CLR) in Paris. The boffin leads the music research team, which has recently created a string of pop songs created using AI, including the Beatles-esque ‘Daddy’s Car,’ which has had more than 1.6 million hits on YouTube, and ‘Mister Shadow.’ French composer Benoît Carré arranged and produced the two pieces, and wrote the lyrics.
According to the blurb behind these unusual releases, Pachet and his fellow scientists at the CSL Research Lab have developed FlowMachines, a system that learns music styles from a huge database of songs and supposedly has a knack for exploiting “unique combinations of style transfer, optimization and interaction techniques” across various styles.
So is Spotify striding towards a future where AI calls the musical shots? MBW makes the connection. “There’s been much debate in the past few days about MBW’s use of the term ‘fake artists’ to describe the secret pseudonyms of producers on Spotify, whose tracks have attracted hundreds of millions of plays on the platform,” notes MBW. “We’d suggest that debate just kicked up a notch, wouldn’t you?”
France isn’t where it’s all at in AI. Stephen Phillips, the Australian software engineer is CEO of Mawson Ventures, an Australian company investing in AI, robotics, materials and renewables. Phillips founded the Australian music site We Are Hunted, which was then sold to Twitter in 2012. The social media giant then used the tech to build a standalone app, the short-lived Twitter #Music. The Brisbane startup presented itself to the public this year.