Friday, February 5, 2010

It's Not About You

From BoingBoing:

MIT Media Lab musician/inventor Tod Machover talks about the neuroscience of the musical experience, and using technology to close the loop between brain activity and what we're hearing in real time. In the near future, he says, you can imagine having the ability to "design a piece of music... that is exactly right for you, and only you at this particular moment."

You hear this now and again from advocates of AI in music. But they're missing a very important point. Ask yourself if these people are listening to music alone:

The answer is no. Customizing music to context is a great idea, but an individual human being is the wrong context. What do you think would make more money - a piece of music customized to you at a particular moment, or a piece of music customized to you and your spouse at a particular moment?

HDR wedding from amundn on Flickr

If it's you, maybe there's a market. Maybe. If it's you and your spouse, the market is easy. All you have to do is add one person and you have a business model.

There's probably a bright, exciting future for adaptive AI music, but it's not going to be in some autistic backwater of composing music for solitary individuals at particular moments. Like anything else, the technology gets much more compelling the moment it becomes social.