For years, people have demanded that the Live Music Experience be just that, live. Now in the wake of Ronnie James Dio’s Hologram performance, artists are considering continuing as artificial intelligence. ABBA’s Voyage show, a show featuring AI versions of the group, as they appeared in 1979 has taken the world by storm. While the group is credited as ABBA, it is AI avatars or ABBAtars as they are called, running the show. While the show features live musicians playing the music, the need to see these legends in person is the better way to experience the group.
The AI live music scene got its start in the late 2010’s. First, Ronnie James Dio, the heavy metal hit maker behind “Rainbow in The Dark” and “Holy Diver” appeared at Wacken Open Air Festival in 2014. The problem, Dio had died in 2011. Yet here he was, singing “live” in front of 75,000 people, a decision made by the singer’s own estate. While Wendy Dio, the singer’s wife, has control over his estate, controlling his life after death is not right. While the experience of hearing the songs played by actual musicians is palpable, you are left with seeing a glorified light show. Which begs the question, would the real Dio want this?
The music industry is at a turning point, more artists are open to use AI to help write songs, have fans write songs or even use it to play live. With many of the old guard, Jimmy Buffett, Gary Wright, and countless others passing on, the demand for their music skyrocketed after death. This demand leads to live music promoters looking at ways to make money off these artists, even in death.
Mick Jagger, who just turned 80, went on record to say the Stones could continue virtually. Though what’s the point in that? The point of live music is the connection with the band and audience. The Dio performance was culled from previous live shows. He won’t be asking how the audience is feeling, there won’t be any feeling to him. There will be no jokes, no witty banter with the band. It will just be a soulless cash grab by concert promoters to milk money off bands who put their SOULS into live performances.
This type of “performance” shows how far AI is going to go to be a part of our lives. While the musicians may be ok with it, fans are not. Some claimed the Dio show was downright disrespectful to the musician’s legacy. Others called it a cheap lighting trick. The most common complaint is what’s missing from these “performances” what makes us human, charisma, spontaneity, and live talent. No matter how good AI gets in replicating the likeness of a performer, it can’t replicate what made them unique.
Despite this, and many other posts like it, Artificial Artists are becoming a reality. So, do yourself a favor and see the shows you want to see while the artists are still alive to perform.