From driverless cars to smart speakers, it seems like people are so used to hearing about AI’s new fancy applications that they can no longer be surprised. There is no doubt that AI is, in fact, penetrating our lives.
The same is true for music. AI technology has developed alongside online platforms and music streaming services to become an important part of the music industry. Many AI-based technologies such as music recommendation algorithms and AI music composition have quickly captured the attention of fans and people working in the industry.
Michael Tseng, the founder of AMPai Music, came to our office to talk about a new AI composition website on November 6th. When AMPai Music’s AI music composition launches in two weeks, the users can go on the website to quickly create music to meet their demands.
In addition, the Chinese-style song “A Moment Together,” composed by AMPai AI and performed by YY anchor Cui Azha, will also be released on streaming platforms this week. The song won the “excellent original song ” award at the 12th Myfone Award on November 4 in 2018, and AMPai AI became the award’s first “non-human” recipient.
“AMPai Music seeks to enable music industry through AI and provide technical solutions to the creative process, rather than just making a product,” said Mr. Tseng.
Michael Tseng has a lot of experiences in both tech and music. He is a serial entrepreneur who has founded an AR company called Aimeidiya Tech and a live video streaming company called Tianlida Tech before starting AMPai. Also, he has previously served as the general manager of Taihe Music Group and the music service director of the Asia-Pacific region of both Microsoft and Nokia. He also operates Aosite Music, a film and television music company.
Music copyrights weren’t given much protection until fairly recently, Chinese musicians can’t get the compensation they deserve so most of them stopped making music. As a result, creativity in music have been stagnant. Now that regulatory environment is heading in a good direction, huge demands for good Chinese music in different style and form remains untapped. “There are billions of people who listens to Mandarin music, but human-made composition is insufficient in number and lacks variety because humans take time to learn and hone their skills. There’s no way human compositions can quickly meet the needs of the public.” Mr. Tseng told us.
In order to solve this issue, Michael Tseng, with his experience working in all verticals of the music business and his understanding of the value chain, came up with the idea of combining music composition with AI.
AMPai Music’s AI composition algorithm utilized technologies such as Markov chain, artificial neural network and the deep learning method. AMPai’s patented MDN Music Deeplearning Network technology solved the common problem of artificial neural networks with the output control and the limited text corpus in the neural network black box.
This May, AMPai AI composed its first 8-bar of music with melody and have continued evolving to create better music.
In the beta version of the site that Tseng showed to us, all the users need to do is selecting the style, category and speed of songs, and the AI will automatically generate a full-length song with chords, melodies and arrangement within one minute. The users can click on the “collect” button to save it and play it for free later or buy the copyright directly, then download and edit it. Music that are not saved by users will be added to the AI music library.
Besides subscriptions and single-song purchase, Mr. Tseng said that the AMPai’s user can also use the songs for free due to low operating cost now that the R&D process is done. However, the platform will retain all rights to the songs, and once users put it to commercial use, they need to pay a certain percentage of royalties to AMPai. The company hopes that this “free trial” model can not only attract users to use its product and spread the word, but also help companies test out the music and make some profit out of them.
Mr. Tseng believes that AMPai has a competitive advantage over similar AI products in the market because most of them focuses on arrangement, but AMPai can create a demo with a melody within one minute, which allows it to not only serve music professionals but also amateurs.
On one hand, songs produced by this platform can quickly fill the demand for production music, which is most commonly used as background music of videos, games and physical stores. On the other hand, the platform can also provide musicians with materials to work with and even provide composition services to supplement the existing music arrangement AI services. Moreover, AMPai’s simplicity makes it handy for people who have no composition skills to experiment.
Mr. Tseng also pointed out the potential contributions AMPai can make in the market: “AMPai can provide a clear solution to navigating the complicated music copyright administration system. Our library has a large number of materials whose rights we own completely and from which our users can choose to enjoy for free as long as they don’t put the music to any commercial use.”
Moreover, AMPai AI is good at selecting appropriate data to compose cross-genre songs. AMPai is good at helping artists make mandarin pop songs with traditional Chinese elements at a low cost. Western AI composition technologies have some misunderstanding about Gufeng (ancient Chinese style) and this is where AMPai Music comes in. “A Moment Together”, the song mentioned before is a successful case of the cooperation between AMPai AI and human music producer. According to Yao Shuhuan, the producer of the song, AMPai Music can provide musicians with inspiration and greatly speed up the process of production. The demo of “A Moment Together” is completed in just one day.
According to Michael Tseng, AMPai Music has already finished its angel round of financing and is seeking series A round funding. AMPai is also open to do business with both individuals and institutional clients. AMPai has already signed a music publishing and production deal with SONY Music. Mr. Tseng said AMPai AI’s composition speed is already satisfactory, now AMPai’s priority is improving the quality of its work. The team is also working on voice recognition technology, to help users turn their humming into actual songs.
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