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Exploring the risks and rewards of AI in the music industry

Four smiling people wearing headphones sit at a table in a radio talk studio: A man front left has short dark hair and is earing a button-down plaid shirt and khaki shorts; a man back left is has short dark hair, blue-green glasses, and is wearing a patterned black and white button-down shirt; a woman back right has black hair and is wearing a sleeveless black top; and a man at right has short dark hair and is wearing a purple checked button-down shirt and white pants.
Megan Mack
(foreground) T.J. Borrelli, (background) Eryk Salvaggio, and Amanda Chow on "Connections with Evan Dawson" on Tuesday, June 4, 2024
A smiling man with short dark hair wearing a blue button-down shirt and a grey blazer. He is holding a pair of eyeglasses. The word "Connections" appears on the left side of the photo in vertical letters.

*Note: Due to FCC rules for podcasts, we are unable to include the Randy Travis songs that were played during the live broadcast of the discussion. Therefore, you will hear some jump cuts in the recording.

One month ago, country music singer Randy Travis released a new studio album. Travis has been absent from the music scene since 2013, when a life-threatening stroke left him almost unable to speak or sing. Despite the physical progress he’s made, Travis’ new album was largely possible thanks to a surrogate singer and artificial intelligence.

But you don’t have to be a well-known artist to use AI to create music; the technology can now generate full songs with just a few text prompts from a user. Some artists are also using it to remake songs.

What does that mean for the industry? Can AI convey the complexity of human emotion? Should it?

This hour, we explore the risks and rewards of AI in music. Our guests discuss how the technology is changing the landscape, what it could mean for who creates and owns content, and if – years from now – we’ll need to specify between the AI version of a popular song or the original.

Our guests:

  • T.J. Borrelli, musician, and principal lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at RIT, whose classes focus on cryptography, computer science theory, and artificial intelligence
  • Amanda Chow, M.D., singer-songwriter
  • Eryk Salvaggio, artist, writer, research fellow for the Flickr Foundation, emerging technology research advisor for the Siegel Family Endowment, and lecturer in responsible AI for the Elisava Barcelona School of Engineering and Design
Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.