News

Music & Tech: AI vs A&R

28th February 2020

If you read my last article - Harmonic Hotlist: 5 of The Best Music/Tech Startups & Scale-Ups – you’ll know that one of the many things I love about my job is working at the crossroads of music and tech!

Music is an ever-evolving art form and it is by no means immune to the disruptive technologies reshaping the world as we know it. One such disruptor is of course, artificial intelligence. No longer the stuff of sci-fi, AI is slowly creeping into every area of our lives.


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"Alexa, play Robot Rock by Daft Punk….”


Previously we looked at AI Music, a startup using the power of AI to lower the barrier of entry for music production. This time however, we’re moving away from users and producers and into the world of record labels; more specifically – A&R.

What do you imagine when you hear A&R: is it someone in a leather jacket hanging around the back of a darkened room 5 nights a week? Well, that’s what it has been for the last 40+ years, really. The cut of the jacket has changed but not much else…

That’s where our case study comes in. Ladies & gents, we bring you: Instrumental.


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As an artist, it’s imperative that you get your music out there and heard by the masses. It used to be the case that musicians needed to pay their dues with months and months of tours, demos and hopeful submissions to record labels – this is no longer the case.

The rise of music streaming changed that process forever. If you record a track and upload it to Spotify, SoundCloud or any other streaming platform and people like it, you’re on track to for your first chart hit… That’s how it worked for household names such as Post Malone and Travis Scott!

So, if exciting new artists aren’t touring tiny clubs and submitting demos, how can A&R find their music (without spending 1,000 hours a week on Spotify)?

Instrumental describe what they do as ‘Moneyball for music’ and it fits. Their platform scours playlists to find the hottest new artists and monitors the data for you, to show spikes in plays and other prime indicators of popularity. They monitor millions of tracks and artists every single day, compiling the stats and presenting them on their easy-to-ingest platform.


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The face you make when robots are coming for your job…


What makes Instrumental so exciting is not just the power of their platform. Backed by investment behemoths Blenheim Chalcot, Instrumental have the clout to see their vision through. If you’ve been following the articles from my colleagues, you will have seen the Blenheim Chalcot name pop up more than once. They’re a major player in the world of Venture Capital, with 40+ businesses from a range of industries on their roster and over £850m in assets under management.

 

“The fund looks for founder-run startups with the ambition to disrupt industries. Characteristics like seeking diversity, making data-driven decisions and curiosity are also actively sought for.”

Blenheim Chalcot


As well as their powerful backers, Instrumental have partnerships in place with some of the biggest names in the industry; Coda Agency, Live Nation and Sony Music.

So, is it time for A&R people to lay their leathers to rest once and for all? Well, no! It’s all about marrying together the best of technology with the ever-necessary human touch. After all, music is a creativity – and they haven’t quite mastered how to build creative AI. Yet…

Ed