We are hearing a great deal about bots in the media these days. If you had not heard of bots before, you likely learned about them thanks to Microsoft’s Tay scandal when Twitter users exploited its new artificial intelligence chat bot, teaching it offensive remarks. With the advent of mobile and messaging apps, we have seen a rapid increase in bot-hype over the last several years. The term bot is coined from robots and applies to chatbots, chatterbots, spambots, and Botnets. They were originally designed to perform automated tasks, however, bots are becoming more and more intuitive based on the integration with (artificial intelligence) AI. As these bots become smarter and smarter, they can be used in many ways to accomplish activities that are normally relegated to a person or through personal search via engines, and so on. Instead of having to rummage through the web to look for something you want or download an app, you can simply chat about it to a human-like bot to make the experience less of a hassle.
Currently, their largest impact has been in the education, travel, and e-commerce sectors, but the next frontier may indeed be the music industry. In a Forbes article titled “On-Demand: The Art and Science of The Music Chatbot” published in late October 2016, the author outlined that chatbots could have an extremely positive impact related to marketing. They could influence brand messaging and create a personalized environment with the listener enabling the audience to be guided through the purchase process rather than historical marketing technics that usually try to cast a wide net in the hope of gathering a few new users.
There are thousands and thousands of developers using Facebook’s Messenger app in order to bring new and innovative functions to the already popular platform. Slack created an $80M fund to accelerate the development of bots and other services that run on its services. So, there is little doubt that bots are here, and they are already gathering massive amounts of data to assist us in a myriad of ways.
In the music industry, there can be many ways to apply bots. Artists themselves can create bots to connect to different social media sites and thus connect directly with their current and future fan base. They can be used to answer common questions from fans, quote lyrics and provide video samples if so requested. Once again, this focuses on marketing.
There are still some bugs to be worked out as human conversation is incredibly unique and developing the “smarts” behind these bots to seamlessly integrate with a human is extremely challenging. Fragmentation will also impact the broad adoption of the bot as there are no formal standards and these bots can be deployed on many different platforms using dozens of developer kits. Also, the ability for bots to scale can be a challenge working without volume constraints.
There is no doubt that bots will play an important part of the music industry in the near future, but will they be more of an extension to today’s generic marketing efforts or will they someday be composing music based on one’s music preferences? Perhaps we’ll let the market to decide which practice gets the widest adoption rate.