Introduce yourself in your own words…
Hello! I’m Rachel, that girl who writes songs with AI. I use machine learning technologies to help compose songs and various AI-powered tools to improve the creative process in general. I’m currently a Music Creation Research Specialist and Resident Musician in Music Tribe, the parent company of Behringer, Midas and Aston, amongst others.
What do you love most about Birmingham?
Birmingham has always been my closest big city growing up, but before I attended BIMM Birmingham, I hadn’t really strayed far from New Street and The Bullring. Discovering Digbeth and the Custard Factory feels like finding Birmingham’s best-hidden spot. We spent much of our spare time in Chance & Counters, playing board games and eating loaded fries.
What was it about AI in music that first piqued your interest?
As part of my undergraduate studies, I had to compose a 45-minute songwriting portfolio on a tight deadline. This seemed impossible when paired with the excellent timing of writer’s block. I searched online for ways to alleviate writer’s block and eventually stumbled upon a claim that AI could solve all my creative problems. It couldn’t, of course, but it inspired me to use AI in my own way to create stimulus and finish existing tracks I was working on.
Your Master’s thesis at BIMM helped you to find work. How did that come about?
When writing my Master’s thesis, I focused on using a machine-learning lyric generator based on my own lyrics as a co-writer. This created discussions about the ethical implications, re-shaping the songwriting process and whether this music would be commercially viable. When reaching out for discussions with professionals in the AI generation field, I stumbled across a job advertisement for my current boss that I was vastly underqualified for but applied in the hope we could meet for a discussion. He read through my previous essays, listened to my music, and offered invaluable advice. Two months before I finished my course at BIMM, I was also working at Music Tribe full-time!
What will the AI landscape look like in the next five to ten years?
I think there will be more of an emphasis on what AI in the creative fields is capable of. Popular culture and the general public seem to believe AI will replace everyone, and the creative areas are not the only ones at risk. AI is very good at emulating one task that it is trained on an extensive amount of data to achieve, but General Artificial Intelligence is a long way off, so there’s no need to worry about robots writing all the songs in the charts. AI in music will open avenues for those who might not have access to formal music education by helping them compose songs without needing any equipment, an understanding of music theory or the ability to play an instrument. Ultimately, AI also allows more experimental and creative works to be devised, and I look forward to hearing new music in the future.
Do you have any tips for people trying to break into the field?
Don’t be afraid to educate yourself. If there’s something you’re interested in but don’t know how it works, then there’s no harm in reaching out. I recently completed a separate course in Python programming, independent of BIMM and my employer, to advance my knowledge of AI and coding. There’s also no harm in reaching out to people, applying for jobs you’re underqualified for or asking endless questions. Without those three elements, I don’t think I’d be where I am now.
Our Class of ‘23 magazine contains 41 students who deserve a proper shout-out. We’ve seen some of our students make it to Number One in the charts and even onto international award podiums. But success comes in many shapes and sizes, and it’s now time to shine a light on the sheer variety of achievements our students are responsible for, whether they’re on stage or behind the scenes. We’re so proud of their efforts and can’t wait to see what they’ll do next.