This post originally appeared on Productivity for Musicians.
With the introduction of ChatGPT and other Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based apps and services, people are being drawn to AI like moths to a flame.
It has long been predicted that AI software would have its moment in the spotlight, and at long last, that time has arrived.
But is AI everything it’s been cracked up to be? Should artists take advantage of it? And most importantly, can it be leveraged to enhance your productivity as an artist?
We caught up with our founder & editor David Andrew Wiebe to answer these questions and more.
Artificial, Artificial Intelligence
“First of all, it’s a little premature to call it AI,” said Wiebe. “it’s more like ‘artificial, artificial intelligence.’ It’s not sentient or self-aware. It can’t make decisions for you. Really what we’re dealing with is article compilers, speech emulators, image combiners, and the like.
Yes, it’s quite amazing what they can do with a tiny bit of input, and you may even come away with some usable content. But when you consider that AI is creating derivate work, that it’s taking from different pieces of work that already exist – not creating brand-new work – the context changes entirely.
Look, I do think the technology will continue to improve. But will it ever get to the point of being able to think for itself? The media likes to exaggerate a lot about how it’s quickly becoming self-aware but we’re still basically talking about pre-programmed responses, so we’re just not there yet.
And even though it has the appearance of having popped up out of nowhere this year, even Google products like Gmail and Google Docs, and others like Grammarly, for that matter Microsoft Word, have all featured similar ‘AI’ functionality for a long time. Who exactly is checking your spelling or grammar, pray tell? The same technology. It’s called code.
We get ChatGPT and suddenly everyone’s out of their mind, but this is an instance where appearances are quite deceiving. It could even end up being a short-lived trend.”
Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO)
“In programming, ‘garbage in, garbage out’ (GIGO) is a well-understood concept,” shared Wiebe. “Basically, if you feed gobbledegook into a computer, you’re going to get gobbledegook out of it.
So, this is the first test of whether you’re going to be more productive using AI. Because, again, the quality of what you get depends largely on the input and prompts you provide.
A skilled and experienced copywriter, for example, will have studied effective headlines, researched their audience, looked at relevant industry ads, taken inspiration from parallel industries, and so on. Because they know what good copy looks like, they can create prompts that help them develop sales letters in partnership with AI. And whatever OpenAI products feed to them, they’ll be able to parse and determine what is really going to work and what isn’t, because they’re the expert.
Basically, they’ll be able to edit. They’ll take what is working, edit what isn’t working, and get rid of the rest. Editing is a critical skill for a musician too. But sadly, it seems to be going by the wayside.”
AI Spouts Nonsense
“So, then we come to this issue of editing and fact-checking,” continued Wiebe. “This is the second test of whether you’re going to be productive with AI. It may not be much of a factor with AI image generators, but it applies to any text-based content you have AI create for you.
AI spouts a lot of nonsense. I’ve had it summarize some of my podcasts and blog posts and it keeps talking about SMART goals, which I never talk about in my content. That’s a whole other topic for another time, but even with the best of prompts, AI often doesn’t generate good, factual advice. You’ll often find it trails off in the weeds too.
I had AI generate a press release for me, but it got its facts all garbled. It said I worked with Mariah Carey or something like that. Now, that would be wonderful, but I will openly admit that I haven’t worked with Carey or any major artist, though I have had a few bigger names on my podcast. The bottom line, the press release was completely unusable – a futile waste of time. I don’t think it would have been that much better with better prompts.”
Improving Your Rank in Google?
“So, if you’re thinking in terms of improving fan or customer experience, offering qualified advice, or whatever your other content goals might be… if you don’t make good stuff, it’s GIGO all over again. Give Google garbage, and it will either de-rank you or ensure your article is nowhere near the first-page result. We already have tools to detect AI-written content, so you can bet Google’s algorithm updates will continually deprioritize low-quality fluff.
Don’t get me wrong. Content can still get you traffic. But most of the long-term benefits come from creating well-researched, definitive resources.Most of the long-term benefits of content come from creating well-researched, definitive resources. Click To Tweet
So, those trying to rank in Google with content shouldn’t straight copy and paste anything AI apps generate for them. For Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you want to create content that’s helpful. Your content can be experience and observation-based, sure, and it doesn’t all have to be research-backed. But if you’re serving bad advice – which AI is quite indiscriminate in dispensing – you should not expect to get much traffic from your content.
Everyone is blinded by acting fast in favor of crafting masterpieces right now – ironically, the opposite of what stopped perfectionists in the past.”
Practical Applications for Musicians
“AI – or really what we’re currently referring to as ‘AI’ still has its place,” concluded Wiebe. “I use OpenAI’s Playground frequently to generate viral headlines for content, outlines for articles or books, social media posts, and even 30-day content plans. It doesn’t all work, but AI can certainly help with generating ideas you wouldn’t necessarily come up with on your own.
This doesn’t mean I use everything I’m given. Anything I use, I will usually edit. Sometimes I will save stuff for later.
Various AI tools can help artists generate everything from lyrical content to guitar solo ideas. Again, it’s just being mindful of making it your own through editing. Otherwise, it’s kind of like plagiarism of a different kind – plagiarism of the hivemind. Remember, it’s not creating something new, it’s more like taking what exists, putting it in a blender, and grinding it up.
I also love Descript. It’s a godsend for podcasters and content creators more generally. It will generate a transcript for your audio or video content automatically. This is something it does a fair job of. There’s almost always some manual editing work involved, mind you.
It also has an ‘overdub’ feature. Essentially, it will take a sample of your voice and let you type in something that wasn’t originally in the audio and emulate your speech. Again, it does a fair job.
What makes Descript stand out is that you can do just about anything you could think of with your content – editing, media highlights, exporting to various formats like PDF, MP3, or MP4, audiograms, and more.”
Yes, AI has its place, and it can boost your productivity as an artist. But it has its limitations. The quality of what you get is basically proportional to your input. Again, GIGO. If you’re going to use AI at all, you need to be smart in how you use it. And the people who are most knowledgeable in their fields are the ones that will benefit most from it.