PlusMusic Presents

My Journey in the Music Business and the tectonic shifts along the way

By Brian Karscig

The music industry is in a constant state of evolution, and with the rise of Generative AI music, the industry is facing yet another challenge. However, a new innovation has emerged that could potentially save the industry: Adaptive AI.

I have spent the last 20+ years in the music industry. Signing to major labels, touring around the world, producing records and meeting most of my hero’s along the way. We sold ‘records’. These physical objects you would put onto a device and it would play music. Remember those? It was a great time in an era we can call Music 1.0. Record stores, Radio Shack, MTV and Music Magazines! I used to love when my parents would drop me off at Tower Records in San Diego to roam the isles, make friends and discover music based solely on the LP artwork.

I discovered Jane’s Addiction’s “Nothing Shocking”, Smashing Pumpkins “Gish”, and even Vangelis just on the artwork of these physical objects that I could take home and transport myself into another world of sonic bliss. I was just the biggest music fan and loved every moment of the discovery. That was then….

Fast forward to when my band’s 3rd record was coming out on Atlantic Records. I remember taping the Conan O’brein show in NYC, then taking a car to a venue called Terminal 5 to play our concert. A member of our A&R team was in the van and was shocked at the low numbers of our 1st week ‘sales’ of our newest record despite all the promo and a sold out tour. I remember them mentioning these things that I only heard of just a few years before, that were now becoming a disrupting factor in sales and consumption. Pirate Bay, Napster, and social media sites like Myspace and Facebook that started in the late 90’s early 2000’s, were starting to ‘move the needle’ more significantly than ever.

Music 2.0, the streaming era of music was now in full effect. Digitizing the physical object that you would play on your audio hardware into a new file format called the Mp3, so you could stream on demand on your computer on Pirate Bay and Napster….illegally. But after Metallica rants, record industry panic and legal action, we ended up with what we know today with the Spotify’s, Apple Music’s, etc that we pay a monthly premium and enjoy all the music we can consume. In this period, I saw a major shift in how our music was being consumed.

People were now ‘bluetoothing’ their custom playlists to their car stereo lessening the impact of radio. MTV became a reality TV network for teenagers, so no more music videos. Print media never left the shelf now that social media was dominating, and record store retailers like Sam Goody, Peaches, The Wherehouse and Tower Records had become endangered species then, and all are but gone today. The models of how music was discovered and consumed were now dramatically changing yet again.

Today we’ve seen the internet and digital experiences like gaming and UGC dominate the way music is consumed and discovered. From Tik Tok to video games, influencers streaming content with music on Twitch and YouTube stars becoming rock stars. This is the beginning of the new era…the now era of Music 3.0.

Music that is made available for consumers to bring with them to their digital experiences and discover music in the places where they spend their time online. I want the music I love in the games I play! I want it available for the content I create! So do A LOT of people!

The issue is the traditional licensing, copyright and performance laws are outdated, opaque and difficult to navigate in the digital space. Creators are afraid to mess around with the music they love for fear of consequence, fines, content takedowns, or the worst case legal action from the music industry and rights holders.

Their easy solution is to purchase stock library music or generative AI music since there is no friction licensing music that has no ‘writers’, ‘publishers’, or ‘performance societies’ involved. Now creators don’t have to try to figure out the enigma of music licensing, but they still have to ‘settle’ for subpar music from what they would prefer..

The music industry as it is today has to figure out how to work together with platforms to solve these complexities with licensing and the new generation of content creators. Because if we don’t, we are going to be on the brink of losing every opportunity that exists for artists and human-created music catalogs to the ease and always improving generative AI music.

I (along with my team at PlusMusic) believe that the solution is Adaptable Audio AI. Using AI to make the millions of existing compositions made by humans, and make them adaptable to the digital experiences popping up every day. Flexible file formatting, licensing that takes 6 minutes and a credit card instead of 6 months and a lawyer. Technology that does all the rights management and creates new revenue streams for artists and the music industry, and of course, makes the music ‘adaptable’ to the digital experience being enjoyed/created.

As the world becomes increasingly more digital, the way music is consumed and discovered is rapidly changing. Adaptive AI presents a solution that can make music more accessible and cost-effective for creators while preserving the integrity of music made by humans. It's time for the music industry to adapt and embrace the future of music, or risk losing even more market share to Generative AI music.

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