These Entrepreneurs Taught Computers to Compose Original Music

Anyone who has tried to make his own video knows the problem of finding a good, royalty-free soundtrack. With sites like YouTube and Facebook cracking down on copyright violations for using popular songs even in personal videos, users have a hard time searching for that perfect track.

Enter Jukedeck, a company that’s leveraging the innovative power of technology to write unique music — in seconds.

It’s incredibly simple to try out. Just visit Jukedeck’s website and follow a few straightforward prompts. Choose your style of music and the feeling you want to achieve, then select your desired track length. More advanced users can even select the instruments used and number of beats per minute.

Then, almost instantly, the site generates a unique, royalty-free soundtrack.

Individuals can get up to five free downloads per month for personal use, but Jukedeck offers special licenses to businesses that want to use the tracks for commercial purposes as well.

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Jukedeck allows users to create their own soundtracks easily without having to worry about royalty regulations. | Photo: Jukedeck

The idea began when founder Ed Rex, a composer who graduated from Cambridge University, was visiting his girlfriend at Harvard in 2010. After attending a computer science lecture, Rex thought he could find a way to teach a computer to write music. He taught himself to code and built the first prototype on his own.

At first, people were skeptical of computer-generated music. “For the first year or so, Ed worked on the prototype without audio — just printing out rows of notes every time he ran the program,” said Patrick Stobbs, Jukedeck’s chief operating officer. “So getting others to imagine what this technology could be was tough.”

But after a year, Stobbs says Rex had a breakthrough. “He heard the output for the first time — an incredibly simple hymn tune, but one that had never been heard before,” Stobbs recalled. “That was when he decided this might actually work.”

Since then, Jukedeck has added new styles and sounds so users have many options for creating their unique tracks. Stubbs said the company would continue developing more styles as awareness of the product grows.

Making tracks on Jukedeck is fun, and the company has already had quite an impact. Videos on YouTube with Jukedeck tracks have more than 20 million views so far.

The most innovative aspect of the site is that the computer is literally generating unique songs every time someone visits the website. “We’ve built an artificially intelligent system that can write music on its own  —  the tune, the chords, everything  —  which means the track you get is unique and has never been heard before,” Rex wrote on the Jukedeck blog. Already, more than 100 days of unique, royalty-free music has been generated by Jukedeck, with much more to come.

Daniel Huizinga is a columnist for Opportunity Lives covering business and politics. Follow him on Twitter @HuizingaDaniel.