Artificial intelligence has already begun causing massive changes in the way artists develop and market their work, from everything to the creation of new music to designing album (or magazine) covers. New AI production tools can help independent musicians, allowing for new ways to experiment and reducing the amount of time spent during the music production process. Through accessing various neural networks, AI music tools are able to generate new music via meta analysis and understanding the patterns of track compositions. Once enough information has been acquired, the tools can learn and mimic unique patterns of music and help producers create magic.
Though there is much debate in regards to the space AI is, or should be, allowed to occupy within the creative process, using AI-powered digital audio workstations (or DAWs), in conjunction with a personal sense of creative vision, can be greatly beneficial for independent artists.
An arms race is officially on, with many tools gaining popularity then becoming unavailable after being acquired by bigger companies. Former AI-based freebee Amper, for example, used to allow users to “compose custom music in seconds”, but has now been acquired by Shutterstock with its sound creations now only available for those buying, and pioneering start-up Jukedeck surged in popularity around 2017 but is no longer available after being acquired by TikTok’s owner Bytedance in 2019. Others within well-funded companies have deprioritised, such as OpenAI’s popular composer tool MuseNet, which stopped working in December 2022, around the time ChatGPT went public, most likely to focus computing power on the AI-powered language model instead. So get stuck into free options while you can, or have a think about a secure subscription that might suit you.
Here are eight AI tools you can use in the production process:
Magenta Studio is a free AI music generator published by Google. It contains a stock of music creativity tools and plugins that are compatible with both MacOS and Windows devices, and it can also be used as a plugin on Ableton Live. Powered by Magenta’s neural network, the toolbox allows you to write a short melody or riff and turn it into an instrumental composition in any style you please. The website’s interface is visually attractive and clean looking, and not as complicated to grasp as other similar models.
Once downloaded, you’ll be presented with five different applications to choose from: Continue is a music transformer tool allowing users to extend music from a MIDI file with new sounds. Drumify creates drum patterns based on imputed melodies or bass. Generate uses its training on millions of melodies to work similarly to a random note generator. Groove analyses a drum track and uses Magenta to make modifications to the rhythm, giving it a looser, more ‘human’ feel. Finally Interpolate, which composes a sound to bridge two separate MIDI melody tracks.
Download it here
WavTool is a browser-based AI tool, and is one of the first text-to-music DAWs available. It contains a MIDI sequence composer assistant that’s powered by GPT-4, the same Open AI multimodal model used in ChatGPT. The DAW comes with a chat assistant that facilitates text-to-music creation; if it does something you don’t like, you can actually ask the model why it chose to do that! The chatbot – Conductor – is embedded with a good grasp of music theory and audio production and guides users through the music making process. Users can simply input prompts in plain text English to tweak, amend or add things to their projects.
It comes with instrument pre-sets and a panel allowing users to set up devices that control things like EQ and reverb, with the devices being controlled and altered through text prompts. It also comes with a piano roll interface that shows the notes played on screen.
You can sign up for free, but free accounts are restricted to a limiter number of AI prompts. Subscriptions start at $20 (just over £15.50) a month.
Try it or subscribe here
Boomy is an AI generative music platform that allows users to create original songs that can be distributed on streaming platforms. The service ‘empowers users’ by providing a space to learn from other musicians as well as the possibility of earning from their musical creations once distributed.
The service uses advanced AI algorithms to create and alter tracks in a wide range of customisable styles. Users can choose from pre-set styles such as Electronic Dance, Rap beats, Lo- Fi or Global Grove. The DAW can even learn from individual user preferences and create custom, tailored styles. By introducing the option of distribution, as the platform offers a “seamless integration with popular streaming platform”, beginners can benefit from a degree of professionalism as their music is able to reach a global audience , where they can even earn royalties from their creations.
Impressively, the AI used for Boomy is not trained using copyrighted music, instead using a ‘bottom-up’ approach to train the system to build organic compositions from scratch, which does well in evading the major hurdle of legality.
Try a free trial or buy a subscription here
Read this next: 5 of the best DAW-less machines
This DAW leverages the power of AI to assist composers in their creative projects by providing users with themes under a selection of pre-set styles such as instruments or a type of song. Users can compose “emotional soundtrack music completely from scratch” or input already released songs as inspiration, and use AIVA to tweak and edit the track enough to be considered original.
When subscribed to AIVA’s pro plan (€33, or just over £28, a month) users can own the copyright of any music produced using the software, allowing for complete usage freedom. Free and cheaper options are available, buy AIVA maintains copyright control over the creations.
Orb Producer Suite 3 is an artificial intelligence plug-in made to assist music producers in coming up with professional grade musical patterns and loops. Within this pack, there are four additional plugins.
The Orb melody plugin delivers countless ideas for melodies which come fully equipped with useful controllers and options to get the right melody for your musical creations. It works with the Orb Bass module, which conducts analysis over the whole harmony and suggests the best bassline for your track. Orb Arpeggio mode is a module delivering arpeggios (the notes of a chord played in rapid succession, either ascending or descending), with abundant parameters fit for more advanced users. Finally, the orb synth plugin, which offers the classic elements of any synthesiser including a reverb, a delay and a crunchy drive.
Buy it here
Soundful is an AI program that allows users to create an unlimited amount of royalty free music without needing a musical background or technical knowledge. Its mission is to “democratise music creation and distribution” through creating a platform that allows for a “seamless and intuitive” experience for its users using a wide range of features such as genres, moods and varying instruments. Since the DAW’s algorithms are taught on a note-by-note basis to create one-shot samples, the music on the platform is unique. Users can also monetise their creations on a number of popular streaming platforms, or for use in films, TV and other media.
Try it for free or subscribe here
Loudly comes pre-packed with 170,000 audio loops and an advanced playback engine that allows users to freely combine and alter loops in real time. Users can produce high quality songs using this easy to use platform. However, as the loops come from pre existing audio, the music generated may be subject to copyright. Varying subscription pricing structures are tailored from personal to professional use.
Try it for free or subscribe here
Trained with countless hours of existing songs, this DAW uses a straightforward interface with a hefty selection of emotions, genres and scenes to allow users to generate music clips. Users must first select a scene, mood or genre and with a simple click of a button, the platform generates music for you. Even when using the same setting, the platform delivers a different sound each time. Users are also able to customise instruments and track structures in a few clicks.
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Tiffanie Ibe is Mixmag’s Digital Intern, follow her on Instagram
Written by: Tim Hopkins