Snafu Records wants to replace record directors with AI
Social media has made it easier to discover musicians and producers, but they have yet to impress the guardians of the industry to be successful – and these executives are typically white males swayed by their own biases, whether they like it or not.
A June report from USC’s Annenberg Institute found that 86% of senior music industry executives are white and male, and less than 20% of executives at vice president or higher level are from groups. minority.
So it’s no surprise that Snafu Records founder Ankit Desai thinks the music industry is overdue for a change in the way it discovers, promotes and evolves the careers of artists – and he uses artificial intelligence to do just that.
Snafu, which launched in 2018, raised a $ 6 million funding round on September 21 to refine its AI discovery platform. With offices in Los Angeles and Sweden, Snafu will soon be launching two new products: Blurry, a platform for songwriters to find collaborators, and Fine.Art, a system that allows Snafu and his artists to collaborate. -invest in the financing of the career of an artist.
Desai said the company’s revenue came mainly from reducing duties on an artist’s work after he was signed. Snafu has a list of 45 artists.
Snafu uses AI to scan a million new songs per week and analyze factors that could determine the artist’s success, including song structure, overall popularity, and how listeners are talking about them on social media. Right now, the platform is focused on Spotify, YouTube, and TikTok, but Desai said Snafu is looking to include other audio streaming platforms like SoundCloud and Bandcamp soon.
The company brought a number of prominent investors into the cycle, including Agnetha Fältskog, lead singer of Swedish supergroup ABBA; Hampus Monthan Nordenskjöld, who was one of Snafu’s first investors; and award-winning songwriter Savan Kotecha.
“I’m proud to be a part of what (Desai) creates, which isn’t just an algorithm trying to find hits, but it’s actually much bigger than that,” Nordenskjöld said. “We’re trying to change the music from the ground up, and I think we’re going to make a solid attempt.”
Upon launch, Blurry will use AI to match producers and artists looking to collaborate. Desai described it as “Musicians’ Tinder”, where people match up based on short samples of music, and then their identities are revealed to each other after agreeing to collaborate.
The Fine.Art service will help emerging artists identified by Snafu’s algorithm as potential stars to secure advanced funding to start their projects. Desai said the AI would identify potential successes, and then Snafu would offer existing artists the opportunity to invest in the success of an emerging artist.
“The good thing about streaming is that once a song hits its peak, you can be relatively comfortable predicting how much money that song is going to make over the next 18-24 months,” Desai said, adding that this is how the company will decide. which artists to fund.
Shrikanth Narayanan, AI researcher and college professor of computer and electrical engineering at USC, said AI has the potential to democratize and make the music industry more equitable.
“Personalized experiences are something that AI strives to do in a way that could be very inclusive and fair,” said Narayanan. He added that AI has “promising potential to empower the music industry” and could “in fact improve it and make it even better.”
The AI could be wrong – which is what Desai and investors say they expect. It’s possible that Snafu could give an artist a lead and never see a comeback, one or two big hits could make up for it.
Narayanan said Snafu’s AI may have their work cut out for their selection process.
“Naturally, there is going to be a lot of variability between people, and so that while we can understand this and study it, it can certainly be a challenge that AI tools will face,” said Narayanan. “They have to see enough patterns to understand the range of emotions or things that a particular piece of music conveys (to) or connects with listeners.”
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