Written by Kristin Robinson and originally published on Billboard.com
The Orb and David Gilmour have released a new project that lets fans reimagine their own versions of Metallic Spheres in Colour, a newly released remix album from The Orb and David Gilmour, based on their 2010 ambient album Metallic Spheres.
The new remixing tool is by generative AI company Vermillio. It allows fans to type out how the music makes them feel and create a unique album cover based on their feelings. Plus, it can also generate a personalized version of one of the album tracks based on a few parameters: the unique album cover, mood, and tempo.
In an interview with Billboard, Sony Music Entertainment‘s president of global digital business & US sales Dennis Kooker explains how the project came together: “We were fortunate that we have an artist who approached us and was interested in potentially working with generative AI technology that fits their history of experimentation. First and foremost, we are grounded in the principle of being artist-forward. We want our artists to lead and guide us as we move into this world of new technology.”
The generative image and music models were trained specifically on copyrighted material that was provided and approved by Sony and The Orb and David Gilmour.
“Fans in today’s world are shifting from just consumption to creation. They want to co-create,” says Dan Neely, co-founder and CEO of Vermillio, which can be achieved through creating remixes, covers, TikTok videos, or using generative AI. “The good news is ambient music has been a place where co-creation has existed for a while — DJs have always looked to music like this. It’s a good collaboration to start with.”
Music personalization has been a growing area of interest in the field of music AI. Recorded music is a static medium, but a few new start-ups believe that AI can unlock “new formats for listening,” as Endel co-founder/CEO Oleg Stavistsky once put it. One company, Reactional Music, uses a “rules-based music engine” to allow music to react to the unique actions a player takes in a video game. Another start-up called Minibeats creates Snapchat filters that lets users play with music recordings through their movements, isolating different instruments on the song.
Though each of these start-ups take a different approach, the goal is similar: create a one-of-a-kind experience for a listener and encourage a deeper connection with the music. “This is the first time these things have all come together,” explains Neely. “A fan can come and engage in create unique artwork and music based on an album they love.”
These tools also align with the growing popularity of using cutting edge technology, like AI, to market legacy artists and songs. Just last week, Warner Music announced its plans to use AI to help recreate the voice and likeness of late “La Vie En Rose” singer Edith Piaf so that it could create a biopic about her life. HYBE and Tencent have also experimented with using AI to resurrect the voices of beloved Korean artists after their passing. Companies like Minibeats have also partnered with labels on older songs in their catalog, like “Green Onions” by Booker T. and the M.G.’s, to create playful, customized Snapchat filters that encourage users to play with the song.
For now, these custom tracks based on The Orb and David Gilmour’s Metallic Spheres are limited to 30-second snippets that can be shared on Vermillio’s website with other fans, but the team is considering giving fans the option to purchase a download of the full track in the future.