The topic of “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) was discussed as part of a lecture. During the follow-up, I came across, among other things, the website “Soundraw.io“, which claims to generate pieces of music with the help of AI on the basis of a parameterization specified by the user. But is it really “Artificial Intelligence” or just an expensive fake?
If it sounds too good to be true …
It almost sounds too good to be true: High-quality, ready-produced music at the push of a button for a small price. Soundraw promises that you only have to enter genre, instruments, mood, etc. and an AI will produce music on this basis – with a click on the menu item “Create Music” you can see for yourself right away.
The first impression is a “wow” – in a matter of seconds, several pieces of music are created, which definitely have mainstream potential and sound absolutely professionally produced. With one click, a lossless file in WAV format is created, which can then be used for videos, presentations etc.
It looks like a rather small audio loop library….
However, if you look and listen a bit closer, you will quickly notice that many music pieces sound surprisingly similar – is that a coincidence or is the provider perhaps “cheating” here? In any case, my curiosity was aroused – it reminded me all too much of a modular system, in which new combinations are constantly thrown together from prefabricated sound snippets on a metadata basis.
When analyzing the website I was more or less confirmed in my assumption. Right when checking the files retrieved from the server, it is noticeable that very many files are retrieved in M4A audio format. Furthermore, there are some metafiles with the file name “composition”, which describe respective concatenation of the loaded audio files. In effect, a combination of a manageable number of audio loops is “diced” here, which is then combined into a stereo mix. The result is professional sounding music.
The appearance allows the assumption that there is not really an AI at work here, but “only” a more or less clever algorithm. The low variance and high similarity of the music pieces speaks against this. It speaks much more for the fact that there is a basic set of ready-made “compositions” or that these are more or less put together on a random basis and if necessary only a fade is added to the end.
If you look a bit closer, you’ll find a reference to an Amazon S3 bucket – and if you follow that reference, you’ll find an XML file there that lists all the available sound snippets. There are pretty much exactly 1,000 of them from different genres. The file names describe music style, instrumentation etc.. Considering that there are currently about 11 different music genres and 9 different tunings, it quickly becomes clear how few 1,000 different sound snippets can be here.
The pricing is overambitious for what is offered
Soundraw charges about 17 EUR per month for an annual subscription paid in advance and about 20 EUR for a monthly subscription. That is – currently – a lot of money for what is offered.
By the way, I also noticed that you can’t delete your account on your own and there’s nothing in the FAQ about it. This is a so-called dark pattern and is supposed to make it difficult for uninvited users to get rid of this site again. After all, it is possible to easily cancel a paid subscription and remove payment means from the user account. After logging in, this is a maximum of 4 mouse clicks, which is absolutely fine. Nevertheless, Soundraw should make an improvement here and also enable account deletion by the user himself.
Let’s recapitulate my findings:
- A comparatively small library of source audio loops from 11 genres in 9 moods divided by different instrument genres at different speeds.
- Frequently repeating or very similar sounding results
- Comparatively high monthly costs
- Strongly limited licenses
- No easy way to delete user accounts
- Very easy to use
- Very quick generation of music tracks
- Very good sound quality
- Modern genres and modern instrumentation
- Very quick and competent support
From my side there is not yet a full recommendation
If you ask me, I doubt that there’s really an AI at work – there’s not enough evidence for that and I think the pricing is currently clearly overambitious for what’s on offer. Accordingly, I do not yet recommend a paid subscription. But you can checkout this by yourself. Soundraw offers a free 7 day membership.
If you are interested in deep learning and AI in music, you should take a look at “AIVA” instead – unlike Soundraw AI, AIVA is actually an intelligent system. Soundraw is cleverly made and can dazzle at first – but in fact it is just that: a dazzler!
Addition to the topic of support
Soundraw’s support earns top marks when contacted via email. Lightning fast, competent, honest and super friendly.