This is a bit of a deviation from the normal subject matter of this newsletter, but I hope you'll forgive me, because I want to talk about writing songs with robots.
ChatGPT and other such AI services aren't exactly ethical, not least because they're trained on tons of material created by people who didn't consent to be drawn upon in that way, and because sometimes their working conditions are exploitative. So, needless to say, I feel conflicted about using them at all. But I've been very curious about them, and have used ChatGPT to generate cocktail recipes, emails, fanfiction scenarios, and discussion questions for my podcast, among other things.
But my particular fascination lately is using them to help with my songwriting. It's simultaneously super helpful and totally atrocious. Let me explain.
Since I've been writing and recording a new song every week for nearly a year and a half, sometimes I run out of steam, inspiration-wise. My process has gotten much more streamlined and systematized over the time I've been doing this challenge – these days I usually write first-draft lyrics on Thursday, put them to music on Friday, and practice and record on Saturday – but there are still plenty of times when I get stuck. ChatGPT has been helpful in times like these, but only if I'm very specific with my inputs. Usually I'll type something like: