Suno just raised a lot of money

Read to the end for he walking on the keybort

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AI Music Platforms Don’t Really Get What They Are Yet

We reached a real inflection point for AI-generated music this month. Companies like Sony are beginning to realize that a lot of these music models are almost definitely using copyrighted material and are lawyering up to find out exactly how much. Meanwhile, Metro Boomin’s “BBL Drizzy” distrumental is, without question, the most viral song of the year so far. And the sample at the heart of it was AI-generated.

To cap things off, this week, Suno, a generative-AI audio platform, announced they raised $125 million in funding. According to Cherie Hu, a researcher specializing in technology and music, it’s the 11th-biggest funding round for a music-tech startup of all time and the biggest funding round, period, for any AI company working with audio. It even beat ElevenLabs.

I hadn’t used Suno in a while, so I decided to have a poke around this morning and was surprised by how much it seems to fundamentally miss the point of AI-generated music. And, yes, I do think there is a utility there. We’ll get to that.

(Suno)

I asked Suno to make “a 2000s emo song written from the perspective of Elon Musk about getting dumped by Grimes”. It blocked that prompt because you can’t include artist names. (I forgot Grimes technically makes music.) I changed Grimes to “weird elf wife” and it spit out a song that’s probably more grunge than emo, but still pretty funny.

But it’s obvious that Suno sees itself as, ultimately, some kind of Spotify killer. It has a “showcase” of, like, staff-approved generations and playlists, which I just can’t imagine anyone is actually using. But who knows, maybe some screen-addicted Roblox kiddie is plugging tf in to an AI music playlist every day.

Also, new users logging into Suno for the first time are greeted by a leaderboard of other users’ songs. The most-listened to Suno generation of all time is a song called “Cat,” which is just the word “cat” repeated over and over again. Pretty good tbh. It has almost 900,000 listens. There’s another song called “C-A-P-Y-B-A-R-A” from a different user that is just the word “capybara” repeated over and over again that’s been listened to almost 500,000 times. My personal favorite Suno song I’ve come across is called “I only ate 3 cheeseburgers!” It has about 300,000 listens.

But I’m confident that Suno sees itself as the next Spotify, only without all the pesky human artists that need to get paid to live and make art, because that’s the exact the kind of idiotic pitch that would raise — and eventually flush down the toilet — hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital. Even though it’s a complete dead end.

What these platforms should really be investing in are remix tools. And there’s a Suno competitor called Udio that has this already actually. I tried my “Elon Musk” prompt in Udio, as well, and it generated much better sounding tracks and didn’t block “Grimes” in the prompt. Which is maybe why it’s not getting the funding Suno is. It also let me “remix” another user’s track directly inside the app. I told it I wanted it to sound more like “heavy prog” and it, well, it did something to it.

Udio is also the platform responsible for the “BBL Drizzy” sample. It was generated by comedian King Willonius and he’s told reporters that while all the music in the original sample was AI-generated, the lyrics were not. “There’s no way AI could write lyrics like ‘I’m thicker than a Snicker and I got the best BBL in history,’” he told Billboard. Which is worth noting because it was the lyrics that caught the attention of producer Metro Boomin who, more than likely, did not know and, clearly, does not care that it was generated by an AI. Nor should he. The AI does not — and will not — ever actually matter.

I’ve written this a few different ways over the last few months, but the biggest issue with the AI industry — beyond, you know, the ethics — is that it has to massively over-hype what is actually extremely boring technology because it’s exorbitantly expensive to run. No one is going to give you $100 million for an app that can create a passable 90-second soul sample about Drake’s butt. Even though that’s, of course, what people want. Investors want a market-toppling generational tech behemoth that generates free money forever. It’s the same desperation we saw with crypto and the metaverse.

Which is why, I think, the success of “BBL Drizzy” is actually a victory. It has, like all good viral songs, quickly and casually rewritten how a new type of technology fits into our lives. It is to generative AI what “Old Town Road” was to TikTok, what “Friday” and “Somebody That I Used to Know” were to YouTube, what In Rainbows was to file-sharing. You might rankle at anything involving AI, but the game has been set. And it’s not “can this AI generate a funny song?” It’s “can I do something with this AI-generated song?”

The Rumors Are True: Garbage Day Is Headed To XOXO 2024

(Let’s gooooooooo)

Let’s gooooooo!!!!

I’ll be at XOXO in Portland from August 22-24. You can click here for more info. I’ll also be adding it to my live shows page. I have a few more announcements about live events this summer. So stay turned.

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I Think This Is My Favorite TikTok Maybe Ever

@bstans27

Replying to @Maggie Birch Tomato soup x Guinness combo. Hope this is everything you wanted. Any more recommendations get them in the comme... See more

There’s a lot I like about this video and I want to cover it all. So let’s go in order:

  • He’s using a store-brand tomato soup, not Heinz tomato soup

  • Halfway through pouring the Guinness he realizes that it’s actually a perfect pour and you can see the disappointment on his face as he realizes he’s wasting such a perfect pour by dumping it onto a bunch of tomato soup

  • He has a “sick bowl” ready in case he throws up

  • By my count, he downs the entire thing in approximately five seconds

  • He “half recommends” it and says it wasn’t as bad as he expected

  • He says at the end, “that’s me done for the night,” which I believe implies that this is his dinner and now he’s going out

A 4D Chess Conspiracy Theory I’m Actually Willing To Believe

Look, it’s my right as an independent publisher to indulge in a conspiracy theory or two from time-to-time. I figure, that’s why you’re reading me and not The New York Times.

So I’m going to play my first conspiracy theory card of the year now. A user on X named 0xkarmatic posted the following, as a joke, “Hypothetically if I was the CEO of a major AI company (OpenAI) and I wanted the industry to be regulated to ensure there is no competition, what would I do? Maybe clone the voice of a mainstream actor and then release it causing an uproar and demands for regulation from Hollywood and the general public.”

Well, joke or not, I think I actually kind of buy it. I don’t think OpenAI’s Sam Altman is stupid and while I don’t think he’s masterminded this whole thing just to get sued by Scarlett Johansson, I do think he’s someone that has, from the beginning, very acutely understood that AI panic and AI optimism are two sides of the same coin. The existential threat to AI isn’t outrage, it’s boredom.

And it turns out I’m not alone in wondering if this whole thing was done, at least, semi-purposefully. Kate Knibbs has a great piece over at WIRED about whether or not Johansson has a case and Purvi Patel Albers, a legal expert Knibbs interviewed, floated the same theory. “The only compelling reason —maybe I’m giving them too much credit — is that everyone’s talking about them now, aren’t they,” she said.

TikTok Layoffs Are Here

The Information got the scoop yesterday that TikTok is planning one of its first-ever big layoffs. TikTok also reportedly plans to scrap their global user operations team amid the layoffs. As The Information notes, not all the layoffs planned will be US-based and it’s just as likely that TikTok is trying to reach some kind of profitably before it likely gets banned in the US.

It’s been interesting to watch TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, play chicken with the looming TikTok ban. Back in April, sources inside the company said it would rather just shut down the app in the US if they’re forced to sell. And then, last week, both the Department of Justice and TikTok’s legal team asked for the case to be fast-tracked and resolved by next December. The ban is supposed to go into effect next January.

The Jenny Nicholson Star Wars Hotel Video Is Here

This video is four hours long. So I can’t say that I’ve watched the whole thing yet, but, from what I’ve watched, I’m confident saying this video is an absolute banger.

I hoping, though, that finishing this video doesn’t suck me back into the vortex of Long YouTube, which sort of took over my life a couple years ago. There’s just something really hypnotic about watching someone talk for five hours about a thing they care about that you don’t have any context for.

Reddit Banned The Goon Cave Subreddit

(r/GoonCaves)

Reddit banned r/GoonCaves this week, claiming its users broke the site’s rules against non-consensual intimate media. 404 Media tried to reach out to the subreddit’s former mods for more info, but haven’t heard anything back yet.

If you don’t know what “gooning” is, it’s internet slang for watching hours of pornography in one sitting while, uh, straight up jorking it. And a “goon cave” is a room you do that in. Usually, goon caves have multiple screens all playing different pornography. Sort of like The Architect’s room from The Matrix, but much, much sadder. As 404 Media posits, it’s likely something non-consensual ended up in one of the photos of a goon cave shared to the subreddit.

There is a new goon cave subreddit, which is basically just like the last one. I’m not linking to it, but it’s r/gooncave. My god have mercy on your soul.

Grok Good

***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***

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