Google’s New AI Can Write Music Based on Text Prompts

MusicLM is surprisingly complex, but it won't be released to the public any time soon

AI music robot
Can AI write a song as good as one you'd hear on the radio?
Emma Farrer / Getty Images

Move over, ChatGPT. Google’s got its own artificial intelligence, and it’s reportedly capable of generating minutes-long musical compositions based on text prompts.

The AI system, known as MusicLM, was trained on a dataset of 280,000 hours of music, and it’s capable of crafting songs based on specific prompts like “accordion death metal” or “futuristic club.” It can also apparently build on existing melodies — whether they’re hummed, sung, whistled or played on an instrument — and transform a series of sequentially written descriptions into a “musical story.” (You can listen to some samples of the AI-generated songs uploaded by Google here.)

Of course, instrumental compositions are the best bet here, and the system struggles a bit more with songs containing vocals. MusicLM can technically synthesize human vocals, but the lyrics it strings together are nonsensical. (Should we be surprised that a robot can’t replicate the poetic lyrics of our favorite songwriters? Here’s to good, old-fashioned human creativity.)

But before you get too excited (or, perhaps more realistically, horrified) by the prospect of AI replacing your favorite musicians, you should know that Google has reportedly decided against making MusicLM publicly available due to the slew of copyright issues it would present. Researchers found that one percent of the time, the music produced by MusicLM was directly copied from the songs the system was trained on. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. It’s an expected glitch; human beings can (usually) tell when the riff they’re working on is a little too close to one from a popular song to be called an homage. Artificial intelligence isn’t quite capable of grasping the nuance there — yet.

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