How Google’s MusicLM AI Is Inspiring Musicians to Create New Tunes

Tell it what you want, and it comes up with a pretty decent tune

  • Google's MusicLM AI text-to-music tool is now open to the public. 
  • It takes text prompts and turns them into song snippets. 
  • It's the ultimate creative companion for human musicians. 
Closeup on someone pressing and electric piano key.

Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash

It's not going to write the next Billboard No.1, but Google's AI text-to-music generator will probably inspire one.

Imagine describing a song you want to hear to Google, and then Google comes up with precisely that song. That's what Google's MusicLM tool does. For a musician, this is a dream come true. Not for creating songs but for getting ideas and inspiration, a kind of tireless companion that can keep coming up with your incessant need for audio prompts. And now it's open to the public

"The possibilities are endless, but one use I foresee right off the bat is using AI to get melodies out of my head and into the DAW. Often when I'm writing a song, the melody first appears in my mind, and I'll either hum it into a voice recording app to catch it quickly, or if I have a bass or guitar nearby, I'll pick them up and play the melody on the instrument," veteran musician, songwriter, and founder of Cleopatra Records Jason Myers told Lifewire via email. 

You Hum It, MusicLM Will Play It

This first public version of Google's MusicLM is very basic, but it gets the job done surprisingly well. Type in a prompt describing the kind of song you want, and it'll take a few seconds to generate two options. Each clip is short but enough to get a good idea of the whole song. It weaves together multiple instruments, changing and progressing like real songs. 

A screenshot of Google's MusicLM AI music generator.


MusicLM's About page notes that electronic or classical instruments sound best, and the songs don't contain vocals. You can be pretty vague and still get results, but in my testing, the more detailed your prompt, including the feel and vibe of the song, the better the song.

The tool may also refuse to create songs if you mention an artist's name, although when I prompted it to create a "funky pop song by prince," it did so, and the result was pretty Prince-y.

"[It's] hard to think of an approach to songwriting that can't find a way to effectively utilize an AI text-to-music technology like this," musician Luca Diadul told Lifewire via email. "A lot of the time when I write a song, I have an idea or an emotion in my mind that I want to express but don't necessarily have chords, melodies, or lyrics that capture it. Briefly summarizing those feelings in a few words and seeing what the AI comes up with could kick off what can be a long and difficult process."

The resulting clips are mono and not always of particularly high fidelity, but I already managed to separate the individual instruments into 'stems' (separate tracks, one for each instrument), using—you guessed it—an AI stem-separation tool. Then, I dropped these into Ableton Live and converted them to MIDI files, meaning I could use Google's melodies and rhythms with my choice of instrument. And that took me five minutes while making notes for this article. Imagine how deep it could go with time and more skill. 

Your AI Music Generator

"This blending of human creativity and AI-generated ideas can lead to unique and innovative musical compositions. They can also manipulate and process the AI-generated snippets using effects, sampling techniques, or other production tools to create atmospheric layers or unique sonic landscapes," Alan Senejani, Co-founder of the LVL Music Academy, told Lifewire via email. 

The next step, as seen in Google's promo video, is for the artist to hum a melody into MusicLM, and the AI will turn that into a song, also using text prompts to describe the style, etc. One day, perhaps, these song generators will be good enough to create entire, credible songs, but right now, this tool is already more than good enough to spice up the soup of influences that musicians already draw from.

"Artists are a recipe composed of thousands of ingredients. Until recently, these ingredients came from other artists in the form of influence. Now, that influence is probably going to start coming from AI as well," DevilDriver guitarist and mixer/producer Mike Spreitzer told Lifewire via email. 

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