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Nigerian producer Eclipse Nkasi pumps out AI-powered Afrobeats

When artificial intelligence (AI) apps started spreading in Nigeria’s music industry, Eclipse Nkasi thought his days as a producer were numbered.

Then he took a step back, saw there were opportunities as well as threats and used the technology to generate a whole new Afrobeats album in his studio on the outskirts of Lagos.

“It (AI) doesn’t have to replace what we have. It gives people a new experience … and that’s how I believe AI is really going to shake things,” Nkasi told Reuters.

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In the past, it would have taken him thousands of dollars and up to three months to compose the tracks, recruit the musicians, record the performances, knock them into shape in a traditional studio and get them out to fans.

This one took about three days and $500.

Nkasi and three friends switched on OpenAI’s ChatGPT programme and set it to work helping them create the nine-track album “Infinite Echoes”.

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They asked it to auto-generate songs lyrics and song titles – including “God Whispers”, “Love Tempo”, and “Dream Chaser”. Then they modified the words themselves to fit into their chosen theme – a struggling artist who will not give up their passion to create music.

Then they used another AI tool to generate the tunes. Nkasi recorded some vocals and fed them into yet another app – which transformed his vocals into the voice of the album’s generated singer.

That virtual “singer” is called Mya Blue who appears in front of her audience online as a computer animation.

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“There are certain things that will become obsolete” due to AI, Nkasi said. But it should also create opportunities for artists to reinvent themselves and do their work better and quicker, he added.

The technology is already transforming the industry and could have a positive impact on production values and other technical sides to the recording process, said Lagos-based music critic Omotolani Alake.

But there are still lots of uncertainties and areas, including copyright, that need to be considered and developed, he added. “We are at the very beginning.”

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