How will future music sound?

Algorithms not only determine more and more when and how we listen to music, but should also be better adapted to our mood. Does that change our listening experience?

With the capabilities of audio streaming services like Spotify, music is now available anywhere, anytime and in all varieties. Thanks to social media, amateur musicians can become new stars almost overnight, they have a potentially millions of audiences available on the Internet. But the industry could expect far more changes: smarter algorithms analyze our listening behavior or could soon write world hits ourselves, new technologies make loudspeakers and headphones superfluous.

Adjust music to mind

One thing is certain: In the future, it will be more and more possible to adapt the music to our respective listening behavior and even to our daily condition. The music service provider Spotify, for example, is working on an algorithm that uses speech recognition to determine when a listener feels sad, happy, anxious or neutral. Based on the pitch, accent, intonation and rhythm of the voice, the program should not only determine the emotional state, but also the age, gender and origin of the listeners. In conjunction with the data that Spotify has already read and categorized from previous search behavior and the users’ follower circles, even better and more individual listening recommendations should be made.

In the process of songwriting, the developers hope that artificial intelligence will offer great possibilities: one day, it could take over the whole or a large part of the composition.

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As musicians “feed” individual song components to the programs, they should then produce new variations from them or come up with completely new ideas. In addition, complex data analyzes could help in the future to track down the “recipes for success” for world hits and derive recommendations for the musicians from them.

The music producers want to adapt their works as closely as possible to our wishes and listening habits. Programs like Auto-Tune, which correct wrong pitches and have helped many artists to great careers, are already so deeply integrated in the music business that we can hardly hear the corrections. How much the technology helped in the background usually only becomes clear during live performances without major technical aids.

Sounds straight into the brain

The listening experience itself should also reach new dimensions in the future. Last year, the entrepreneur Elon Musk drew attention to himself with the statement that it would soon be possible to use chips to “stream” music directly into the brain.

Israeli company Noveto Systems wants to bring its “Soundbeamer” onto the market by the end of this year. Device uses ultrasonic waves to send noises directly to the user’s ear. Device should also make a 360-degree sound possible for the listener, the developer says. The advantage, according to the developer, is that anyone could hear their playlist anywhere.

Virtual concerts

The pandemic has also strengthened the trend towards the virtual in the music industry. Virtual concerts by star violinist Lindsey Stirling have already attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers. For many people, good and moving music continues to thrive on real concert experiences. It is probably neither a full machine takeover nor a waiver of technology, but the space between algorithms and human creativity and interaction in which new, moving music could be written and heard in the future.