Dance music producers are a curious bunch, aren’t they? Many would have you believe that they make their records in the finest of studios using the best equipment money can buy, and that everything they do is created from scratch. But as we know as well as they do, this isn’t true.
For the most part, it never has been true. Aside from the likes of David Morales, Frankie Knuckles, Masters At Work, and so on, much of the dance music in the 90s was produced using a sampler, a drum machine, a few synthesisers which were old by even the standards of the time, and maybe the other odd device occasionally.
The setups were often nothing fancy, and sometimes, it wasn’t even obtained via the most legal methods – just ask the Belleville Three about the credit card scam in the 1980s, which paid for most of their equipment. But for the most part, nobody really cared – because the music being produced by these people spoke for itself.
For a genre whose existence wouldn’t be possible without technology, though, some people have a strange approach to when things inevitably move forward. For example, when the industry was moving away from physical to digital, many people claimed they wouldn’t move – and would remain loyal to vinyl forever.
They did, of course, move forward eventually. It was the same when legal sample packs started being sold online – the truth is that most dance music producers nowadays use them to an extent. And we see that AI – or artificial intelligence, to use its full name – is going to follow the same well-trodden path.
How do we know this? Late last week, Pirate Studios announced the results of a survey into the topic. According to the 1141 producers from their own network that they polled, 25% said they’d already experimented with AI, and 46% expressed they wanted to try it.
But how many would be prepared to lie about it? 52% of them is the answer. That’s right – just over half would withhold the fact they’d been using AI at some stage in their music production. The same survey points out the majority of those using AI were doing so in the “songwriting and composition” category.
A genre that came about through technological change is pretending to resist technological change – and not for the first time…