Doja Cat and Jonas Brothers songwriters say AI is not to be feared

Doja Cat attends the 2023 Video Music Awards. The singer has short bleached blonde hair and dark brown eyes. Her makeup includes thinly drawn on eye brows, purple eyeshadow, false spidery lashes and gems dotted around her eyes. She wears a spider shaped ear cuff and long dangly silver earrings. A web-like white dress is just visible in the photo, which is cropped just below her shoulders. Behind her is multi-colour metallic MTV branding.Getty Images

Top songwriters who’ve worked with artists including Doja Cat, Jonas Brothers and BTS say artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t something to be afraid of.

BBC Newsbeat spoke to the people behind some of the world’s biggest hits on the red carpet at the BMI Song of the Year Awards.

Opinions on the technology are split, but writers tell us AI can be a useful tool.

Some use it to mimic the voice of an artist they’re writing for to check how a track sounds, or to break through bouts of writers’ block.

But they all agree that AI can’t imitate the artistry and human emotion that goes into making music.

One person who knows all about that is Linden Jay.

He was one of the writers on Doja Cat’s Woman, which won Song of the Year at the awards ceremony.

Linden Jay at the BMI Awards. Linden, a young man, has short brown hair and a short dark beard. He has brown eyes and looks at the camera with a slight smile. He wears a beige suit over a cream coloured shirt with a maroon line pattern and a red scarf. He is pictured in front of a white back drop with the BMI logo printed on it.

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Linden welcomes AI as a tool, but not something that should fully replace the craft of writing a good song.

“I’ve been using it a little bit in my writing just to help advance ideas,” he says.

“And, you know, I’m not the greatest singer in the world so sometimes I sing and I’ll turn it into a famous artist’s voice, just to get an idea of if something is headed in a good direction.”

Linden’s co-writer on Woman, Aaron Horn, agrees.

Aaron Horn at the BMI Awards. Aaron has curly dark hair cut just above his shoulders and a short dark beard. He has brown eyes and looks at the camera. He is wearing a burnt orange shirt buttoned to the top with a red silk around his neck which has a medal on it. He is pictured in front of a white back drop with the BMI logo printed on it.

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“I think it’s a tool that people can utilise to help fill in the gaps,” he says.

“It’s just great to have new tools… tools are always coming into the studio.”

Although he says he hasn’t used AI much, Aaron compares it to rhyming dictionary, a widely used online platform that suggests rhymes for poems and lyrics.

In Aaron and Linden’s view, “a good song is a good song” and the industry shouldn’t be afraid of embracing new technologies.

Jessica Agombar, who wrote What a Man Gotta Do for the Jonas Brothers, says she’s found inspiration with AI.

Jessica Agombar at the BMI Awards. Jessica is a young white woman with long dark hair worn loose over her shoulders and blue eyes. She smiles at the camera, her head slightly angled over her right shoulder. She wears a black dress with a strap over her chest. She is pictured in front of a white back drop with the BMI logo printed on it.

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She’s been impressed by some of the “mind-boggling” capabilities like the voice mimicking Linden identified.

That ability did worry some singers, after an unauthorised track released this year used AI cloned vocals from Drake and The Weeknd.

But despite the boss of Spotify saying the app wouldn’t completely ban AI-made music, Jessica thinks artistry will be preserved.

“For me, there’s always art in organic songwriting and producing, putting your own vocals on the record, and having some rough sketches of bad notes and bum notes,” she says.

“Because that’s rock and roll – I’m more for that than the whole clean, polished AI, computerised thing.”

Kamille at the BMI Awards. Kamille, a young black woman, has her long dark hair tied back in a messy bun with her fringe worn loose. She has black eyeliner and pink lip gloss and wears a dark green blazer. She's pictured in front of a white back drop with the BMI logo printed on it.

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Kamille, best known for her work with Little Mix, Mabel and Kylie Minogue, says it’s important technology doesn’t make the process of writing a song too easy.

“I try my best to stay away from it,” she says.

“I just feel like I want to just lean on my own brain and make sure I’m not losing that craft I have and becoming too dependent on it.

“I definitely feel like the key of songwriting is getting the emotion out from you and your heart.

“I think that’s a really important part that we shouldn’t lose as much as technology advances.”

For anyone considering a career in the industry, the writers say it’s best not to rely too much on AI.

“I don’t think machines can do it on their own unless they were gonna write music for machines,” says Aaron.

“Embrace AI and believe in yourself,” he says. “Explore your own experience and humanity – that’s what AI can’t draw upon.”


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