How Splice is harnessing the power of AI to reinvent sound discovery

Splice’s AI technology is set to redefine how artists shape their musical ideas. By re-contextualising their industry-leading sounds catalog, focusing on creative flow over sample searching, Splice has opened up a new and powerful way to discover new sounds. Splice AI is the ultimate creative blockbuster, an intelligent sketchpad that delivers inspiration on demand, backed by Splice’s industry-leading sounds and loops.

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Now, it’s available in the browser for Splice subscribers, meaning you can use it to quickly create Stacks—up to eight layers of sounds that make up your new idea—without downloading any app. On its own the tech is impressive, but when paired with the creativity of its users, it becomes even more exciting. Splice AI can shake you from your comfort zone by offering up sounds you might not even realize you’re looking for. While many of us know what kind of sound we want, sticking to what’s familiar can lead to an echo chamber of ideas. This technology is the perfect solution to writer’s block, or being stuck in a loop, something many creatives can relate to. And it’s all powered by AI, trained on Splice’s own expansive Sounds catalog.

AI is undoubtedly the most divisive topic in music right now, as generative tools raise questions around ethics, IP, copyright, and creativity. While debates are raging around how these tools could and should be used, Splice’s stance is simple: “It has to be about the human at the center,” explains Splice CEO Kakul Srivastava.

For Splice, AI isn’t about having a button that does the work for you. It’s about creative people using creative tools to express themselves in profound new ways.

While the mainstream AI debate is relatively new, Splice has been exploring this tech since the launch of Similar Sounds (SiSo) in 2019, followed by Compatible Sounds (CoSo) in 2022. Both developing the tech and rolling it out to users have taught Splice a lot about what creatives actually want from AI. “We expected this to resonate with people new to music production, but we were surprised to see how many professional producers also engaged with it,” Srivastava explained. “It’s inspiring to see how this technology can scale, from professional producers all the way to my daughter just playing around with it and finding the right sound.”

Designing tools with that scale in mind presents a unique challenge. How do you build something that appeals equally to pros and beginners and everyone in between? How do you appease one without alienating the other? Srivastava believes the best tools don’t discriminate. “At Splice, we believe music creation starts with sounds; it doesn’t start with a blank DAW session. If you look at Canva and Photoshop—Canva isn’t about making a dumbed-down Photoshop. It started with content. It started with templates. It gave you a starting point that wasn’t a blank screen and said: ‘Let’s go from here.’ That’s something Splice can uniquely do, and that’s what you’re starting to see with our new technology.”

There’s little doubt that creative AI tools are going to redefine how we approach making music over the next decade. But, automation doesn’t have to mean push-button creation. Splice AI shows that we can harness the power of this technology to augment existing workflows in powerful new ways. Having spent the past four years training, developing and learning from the technology powered by their own vast catalog, Splice is uniquely positioned to empower creators and their ideas, no matter their skill level.

Designing the future: How Splice AI was built

“When I joined Splice, we asked ourselves as creators, ‘What are the points of friction in digital music making today?’” explains Ale Koretzky, Splice’s Head of AI and Audio Science Innovation. “It seemed that even with a vast catalog at your fingertips, finding the ‘right’ sound wasn’t always simple. That led us to the first user-facing AI-powered feature, Similar Sounds, which redefined the way users find samples on Splice.”

“The second point of friction is figuring out how and where to use a sound,” continues Koretzky. “That derived into an even more fundamental question: ‘What makes two sounds work well together?’ But for as long as we continued investing in discovery only, or creation only, friction would still remain. So, we redefined our strategy as discovery-driven creation, which paved the way for CoSo.”

Beyond metadata

While it’s possible to match sounds using annotated metadata like key, chords, or BPM, these approaches have many limitations. Splice AI goes beyond metadata, matching sounds in real-time and always listening, adapting and shifting its results based on the sonic qualities of the Stack as a whole.

That tech has now found its way to Splice’s wider ecosystem, starting with the web browser. Once you’re happy with your new idea, you can access the individual samples or export the idea to Ableton Live, with pitch changes and BPM intact.

Empowering creatives

Despite the powerful technology, AI in the studio can sometimes make creatives feel uncomfortable. Do we really want a machine telling us what sounds go ‘best’ together? “Music will always be subjective,” says Koretzky. “We can all agree that something that sounds good might not necessarily be interesting. That’s why we are giving users a set of mechanics to navigate that starting point and make it whatever they want eventually.”

Once you’re feeling your Stack and are ready to take things further, you can share your masterpiece or you can open each loop on Splice to download them for your DAW or music-making tools of choice.

Human first

Using human-centered AI to create ideas and break down barriers to entry for new music makers is undoubtedly an exciting new era for music production. For creators who are looking for quick results, it’s groundbreaking technology that can generate impressive arrangements in seconds. For experienced producers and established artists, it’s a frictionless and fun sound discovery platform that delivers high-quality building blocks of inspiration for your next track. For everyone, it’s a fun and fluid way to engage with music making like never before.

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June 26, 2023