So you may well have noticed that bots are big. Facebook announced this week their new messenger platform, and that means bots, and bots are big. Microsoft’s CEO has said that bots are the new apps. I’m not sure about that entirely, but I do think that bots will be big, possibly not as big as apps have been, but they’re going to make a difference, that’s for sure.
Of course bots are not new. We have them now for music, but not necessarily inside music making apps. Some of you may know ‘Graphic Score Bot‘, which is a twitter bot run by my friend Deerful (remember my review of her gig? And she’s a part of School of Noise too). Her Graphic Score Bot will be demonstrated at Abandon Normal Devices this weekend and I’m sure it’ll be fun. Come along if you can drag yourself away from record store day anyway. I’m planning to be there too.
There’s my RandomBus bot too, which you’ve almost certainly heard of too. It suggests random Audiobus setups for you. But twitter bots like these are just the tip of the iceberg and of course they don’t integrate directly into your mobile music apps do they.
With bots coming to messenger what will it mean for mobile music, and how could they make creating music better?
I think that there are a lot of ways actually, but two things immediately jump out at me. These are:
- How musical bots can be integrated into existing platforms, Messenger for a start and others as there will certainly be others
- How musical bots can become a natural part of existing apps
Let’s start with the first one, musical bots inside of of platforms like Messenger. How would that work then? I’ve got some ideas but first I’d like to address why this is important as you might be thinking “Why bother?“, and that’s a very reasonable question to ask.
So let’s list out the reasons why it would be good to get some little musical bots into Messenger …
- Messenger has around 900 million users. When bots start to appear there’ll be a lot of users who want to try them out.
- Whilst lots of these initial bots will be about news and providing services, but, at its core Messenger is about communicating, and not just communicating with text but in lots of other engaging ways. That’s why there’s emoji, stickers etc. Sound and music is a natural extension.
- If a handful of musical bots can capture the imagination of Messenger users then it could spark an interest in some of the excellent ‘casual‘ music making apps that are on iOS.
So, to summarise, the proposition is simple, get people interested in making music through a popular messaging platform. Makes sense? Ok, you may or may not agree with me so far, but consider some of the possibilities …
How about these …
- Imagine having Wotja (the excellent app from Intermorphic) inside Messenger, so you could not only communicate with text, but send that as a tiny piece of music too?
- In fact, I can see a lot of text to sound / music applications, perhaps genre based, perhaps instrument based, such as something that turns your text into beats?
- Or how about, when sending images, you could have a bot that converts your images to sound at the same time. I think that could be really awesome, or is it just me who thinks that?
Actually I think that there are loads more possibilities and I’m sure that whatever people come up (and I really really hope that they do) I’m sure that they’ll be truly inventive.
Moving on to the my next bot topic then … Bots in music apps …
This is possibly a more difficult subject. I’m not sure that there’s anything quite like a bot inside a current music app. Sure there are features in apps like randomisation, and it works very well in apps like Mixtikl and Elastic Drums, but these are randomisation options and not anything like an AI type option inside an app. However, I think that this sort of thing could work, and work well too.
Let’s imagine for a moment that you had something like RandomBus sitting inside Audiobus itself? Or, if you could have Graphic Score Bot inside an app to make useful suggestions when you’re struggling with a lack of inspiration? I think that concepts like this could work well in a whole host of apps, a bit like having a Siri inside your app that helps you to make music when you’re a bit stuck.
Personally I don’t find this problematic at all. I mean, we already have a bunch of apps that make music creation easier and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, in fact it’s a massive plus for mobile music in that it helps to engage people’s creativity. I think bots could be a fantastic extension to that and could have the potential to draw more people into making music and in even more fun ways.
So that’s my take on bots, for now anyway. I’d like to see how things develop with Messenger, and on other platforms too. But more than that I’d like to hear your views too.
Let me know what you think.