Can AI Harmonize with Your Favorite Musician? Not Quite Yet.

The past six months have seen generative AI advance by leaps and bounds; it has been used to create large-scale ad campaigns, generate celebrity portraits at the Met Gala, and even to write a children’s book. Now, it’s being used to write and produce songs from popular artists. 

Buzz around AI-generated songs spiked following the release of “Heart on my Sleeve,” which simulates the voices of pop stars Drake and The Weeknd. Listeners were shocked to discover that the viral hit was written and performed by AI. Companies like Universal Music Group have since announced partnerships that allow artists to create AI-generated music soundscapes, while enforcing their copyrights. 

Conversations about the legal and ethical implications of AI in creative fields are ongoing, but they raise a critical question. How are consumer perceptions of generative AI evolving as new applications emerge? DISQO’s new report examines how consumer attitudes toward generative AI have changed since our initial reporting in February, and offers insights about how AI perceptions differ by application area (music, news, entertainment, etc.). Take a deep dive on consumer sentiment towards generative AI, and read on for a quick look at how ~30,000 DISQO audience members think specifically about AI-generated music.

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AI hasn’t struck the right chord with most consumers

Despite the popularity of AI-generated songs like “Heart on my Sleeve,” consumer buy-in for this application area is quite low. More than half (53%) of consumers actually oppose the use of AI-generation tools in music production, with 29% stating they “strongly oppose it.” On the opposite end, only about 10% support it. While consumers may find this new music content catchy, they don’t equate it with human talent and aren’t fully convinced that it’s an optimal future path for music production. 

Interestingly, among those that stated they have high knowledge of generative AI, consumer support for AI-generated music rises by a whopping +24 points, split evenly across “somewhat” and “strong” support. Those well-versed in AI technology are being won over by its innovativeness, and are able to overlook other features (e.g., copyrights, disclosure, artist intent) that might otherwise hold support down.

As usage continues to surge and knowledge about generative AI increases, consumers’ attitudes are trending toward greater receptivity. Thirty-eight (38%) percent stated that they feel neutral about AI-generated music overall, underscoring an opportunity to increase consumer buy-in by showcasing where AI can add value without hurting musicians and producers. 

You simply can’t ignore human talent and creativity

Given the low levels of support we see for AI-generated music, we sought to examine consumers’ primary concerns about this domain.

Overall, consumers feel that there’s a lot to be concerned about. In addition to caring  whether a song sounds good, they also care about its creativity, human touch, and overarching impact on the artist community. Our findings suggest that consumers’ many concerns could drive down the overall receptivity towards AI-generated music, unless there is clear evidence that musical artists and their creative teams are involved in these projects from the start. 

It’s an uphill climb to get consumers hooked on AI tunes

As noted earlier, knowledge of generative AI has a strong impact on consumers’ receptivity to its various potential applications. As AI adoption grows, we should expect receptivity to improve in turn. However, at the current moment, excitement factors for AI-generated music are about 50% weaker than concern factors. Understanding what aspects of AI-generated music excite listeners are critical to increasing long-term adoption.

The chart above highlights just why excitement is fairly low right now: about 50% of consumers find no reason to be enthusiastic about AI-generated music. This contrasts with only 10% of consumers finding no reason to be concerned. As such, one could conclude that people are ~5x more concerned than excited about AI-generated music.

A small subset of consumers feel AI is a helpful tool for creating new songs faster than ever before, but very few are convinced that this novel format will drive greater creativity, compelling collaborations, or employment boosts. See how excitement about AI-generated music compares to other applications in our larger report.

Disclosure should be tested to avoid driving distrust

Listener perceptions are strongly impacted by knowledge of a song’s origins. Upon learning that a song is AI-generated (rather than written and produced by humans), a little more than half of consumers said that they would enjoy it less. Knowing that AI has a part in the production has a tremendous impact on consumer sentiment toward the work. 

Even so, transparency and disclosure are of paramount importance. Our larger report found that 86% of US adults say it’s important for companies to disclose their use of AI-generated content. To avoid driving down trust and satisfaction, disclosure needs to be heavily tested. Whether it’s leaning into language around artist-AI collaboration or specifically at exactly what points in production AI played a role, brands stand to benefit from understanding exactly what kind of messaging resonates with consumers or not.

What about other forms of AI-generated audio? 

How do consumer perceptions of AI-generated music compare to AI  in other contexts? For a benchmark, we examined AI’s role in podcasts. Only 11% found AI-generated music more acceptable, while nearly a third found it less so. This could be further evidence of lesser receptivity to applications in personal contexts, and points to the importance of human touch and artistry in a creative field, like songwriting.

For more than half of consumers, the context in which generative AI is applied to audio does not impact their overall perceptions of acceptability, which suggests that a large portion of opposition isn’t contingent on what AI is generating, but rather the fact that AI is being used at all.

Not to be a broken record but… test, test, test.

An agile and transparent approach is necessary for any industry evolving with the use of generative AI. Consumer experience with - and perspectives about - generative AI will continue to play a key role in shaping successful AI adoption; keeping a close pulse on their attitudes and behaviors has never been more important. 

Don’t miss our large-scale report for a deep dive into how consumer perceptions are shifting across the board.


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