Apple is further strengthening its audio portfolio with the acquisition of AI Music. London-based AI Music was founded in 2016 and uses artificial intelligence to generate soundtracks from royalty-free music. This acquisition comes after the Cupertino-based iPhone maker acquired Primephonic last year.
Primephonic ran a classical music streaming service that Apple is expected to connect to its own streaming music platform, Apple Music. The acquisitions in the audio department show Apple’s intent to compete against Spotify, which has emerged as a leader in both streaming music as well as podcasts.
A deal that could lead to dynamic music across Apple services
The acquisition of AI Music was completed by Apple in recent weeks, according to unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg. Before the deal, AI Music reportedly had about two dozen employees and the startup’s website has been taken down. The report further notes that the deal is small and a representative for Apple declined to comment.
While the iPhone contributes a large chunk of Apple’s revenue, the company led by Tim Cook sees services as the next major growth opportunity. It has entered the crowded and competitive streaming market with Apple TV+ and is trying to create its own niche. While Apple championed digital music purchase with iTunes, it has lost the streaming war to Spotify.
However, the future of audio offerings is widely seen as one that puts personalisation front and centre. We have already started seeing artists make records that are bound to succeed on streaming charts. With AI Music, Apple could take this idea of tailor-made music for listeners a step further.
On its LinkedIn page, AI Music says its goal is to “give consumers the power to choose the music they want, seamlessly edited to fit their needs, or create dynamic solutions that adapt to fit their audiences”.
The technology developed by AI Music can be used to generate dynamic soundtracks that adapt to user interaction. Apple could use this technology to improve the audio experience on games that debut as part of Apple Arcade or could use the tech to enable dynamic music for workout as part of its Fitness+ service.
A cached version of AI Music’s website shows how its “Infinite Music Engine” changes and adapts music for publishers, marketers, fitness pros, and other professions. Bloomberg notes that the startup had earlier deals with advertising companies to “create more engaging ads”. The tech from AI Music is also said to adapt music “to your heartbeat”.
There are already technologies that use gyroscope data to track a runner’s cadence and connect the data with step count or elevation data obtained from GPS to turn every run into a rhythm. With its ability to deeply integrate hardware and software, Apple could make the existing technology even better with AI and proprietary tech it now owns.
Siavash Mahdavi, CEO of AI Music, told Music Ally in a 2017 interview that the startup is “shape-changing” music. He elaborated how AI can be used to shift the way songs are consumed instead of generating music from scratch. From increasing the tempo of a song while running to slowing it down when the user is walking, AI Music imagines a dynamic listening experience.
“It’s that idea of contextual AI. Maybe you listen to a song and in the morning it might be a little bit more of an acoustic version. Maybe that same song when you play it as you’re about to go to the gym, it’s a deep-house or drum’n’bass version. And in the evening it’s a bit more jazzy. The song can actually shift itself. The entire genre can change, or the key it’s played in,” Mahdavi said in that interview.
Like how artists sample existing music, AI could be trained to take an existing song and transform it into different versions with a swipe of your finger. The possibilities of a dynamic music or listening experience remain endless but it needs to be seen how Apple builds the tech into its own audio offerings.