Algorithmic Music Now Has A Business Model

When I first released Computoser (my service for generating music, without any human input), I didn’t think of a business model – it was just something interesting to play with. And the lack of business value was one of the factors affecting the success of previous attempts at algorithmic composition (as I mentioned in my first article on the matter). But then I realized there can be a business model. Not one where I make millions, but one that can support the infrastructure and make the service progress – both in terms of the algorithm and in terms of the UI.

The business model is called “stock music”. Yes, it’s an existing one, where a given piece of music is sold for a relatively low price and is then royalty-free – that is, you can play it anywhere and as many times as you like, and you don’t owe a dime to anyone. Currently stock music composed and performed by real people who get paid. The music is then used in supermarkets, elevators, promotional videos, ads, customer service phone lines, online games, etc.

Computer-generated (algorithmic) music can enter that market by lowering the cost quite significantly. There are no composers and performers to be paid, and the product is sometimes comparable. So, instead of paying 15 dollars for a piece of music for you online game, you can get it for 50 cents.

The main question here is – is it good enough? Not yet. Even if the composition is nice, the performance is MIDI, which means it sounds a bit artificial. But in some cases and for some purposes that might be OK.

For now I decided that the the price is 50 cents per piece (you can pay a minimum of 1 dollar, because the payment providers have a flat fee of at least 35 cents, and tiny transactions mostly go to the payment provider). Bitcoin payment is supported, without that limitation (there are no fees with bitcoin). Of course, in case you don’t need the music for commercial purposes, it is licensed under Creative Commons, and you can freely use it.

Will algorithmic music become good enough to eventually drive human composers out of the stock music market? Unlikely to happen soon. But it can certainly get some share. I’ll do my best.


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