January 10, 2023

At The Intersection Of AI and Fandom

Can AI replicate the 'human touch'?

Mayuyuka Kaunda

With the rise of ChatGPT - an OpenAI-created prototype that utilizes artificial intelligence to generate human-like responses - questions have arisen about the role AI will play across different fields. Views have been widely proffered as to how AI will disrupt everything from content marketing and education to coding and music. While this advancement is primed to affect aspects of the music industry like the formulation of contracts between stakeholders; a lot remains to be seen around how ChatGPT will impact intra-human interaction. Of course, AI is based on a simulation of human discourse, but can it - for example - replicate the connections audiences feel with their favorite creators? How does fandom look when the ‘artist’ is a mere replication of an actual person? Here’s a few avenues to view this through: 

Aideal Hwa (Unsplashed)

Human Connection, Habits and Relatability

One factor that may lead to AI ‘gaining’ followers is the act of suspending disbelief. Audiences are aware that AI relies on inputs from a secondary party and therefore does not directly experience emotions such as love, loneliness and angst. It’s this barrier that will need to be broken down and one aspect of that is making the experience immersive: turning listeners into viewers. While listening to AI-generated songs on DSPs could give off feelings of detachment; pairing the music with meta-experiences in Web3 could win people over. It’s, perhaps, the difference between passively listening to a song through earphones and actively attending a listening session in a different dimension. If platforms can offer that sensory experience, and shape people’s behavior, we may re-evaluate how we think of ‘connection’. Fans may just become fans of experiences rather than who (or what) is offering them.

Credit: Capitol Records

Confronting Social Matters

The furore surrounding the pseudo-AI rapper FN Meka showed us that the replication of societal biases poses a huge problem when digital art is being created. Simply put; the forces behind virtual creations are likely to betray their real-life views through their avatars. With the metaverse selling itself as a utopic destination; issues such as sexism, discrimination and stereotyping are the last things the audience expects to be bombarded with. A key takeaway here is that the ‘traits’ displayed by a ‘robot rapper’ can happen implicitly through technological lapses such as facial recognition blindspots or, as it was in this case, the shortfalls of what was effectively digital ventriloquism. ‘AI robots’ may solely exist in the metaverse - but their creators and audiences still inhabit the real world and have to carefully grapple with its dynamics. It would be hard to loudly proclaim an allegiance to an AI whose politics are questionable, or indeed unknown, to a modern audience. 

Markus Spiske (Unsplashed)

Predictive Fandom

While building community is a seemingly linear process where art is created, embraced and then coalesced around, perhaps AI’s most disruptive factor will be its ability to predict audiences’ wants and needs. While humans constantly have to analyze trends, AI may have an easier time creating them. If AI can offer highly-personalized content and experiences through its analytical abilities; it can keep creating and adapting that content without losing that closed loop to a user. Effectively, AI may be an attractive proposition for fans because it will know its audience members better than a human creator ever could.  


In case you missed them; catch up on our article exploring the benefits of data ownership and listen to our Twitter Space with MerchBase co-founder Jermaine M. Charles

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