NOTE: This piece was commissioned by an editor who is no longer with us — in fact, and this has nothing to do with us, he has “gone missing.” (Sidenote to his family, whereas we are extremely sorry for your loss — I mean, not knowing where he is — please stop calling us.)
I thought it would be interesting to see what the controversial AI platform ChatGPT would come up with if I asked it to do a manufactured interview with SPIN founder Bob Guccione, Jr — who’s an amiable chap, always up for a bit of fun, I figured!
Me to ChatGPT: Write an 800-word question and answer format interview with Guccione, about what he sees as the most important and exciting new directions and artists in music.
Bob added comments in parenthesis in his supposed answers below. He was mostly unimpressed with what ChatGPT came up with.
ChatGPT: Thank you for joining us, Bob. As the founder of SPIN magazine, you have been at the forefront of music journalism for decades. What do you see as the most exciting new directions in music right now?
Bob Guccione Jr: Thanks for having me. There are a lot of exciting things happening in music right now. One trend that I find particularly interesting is the fusion of different genres. We’re seeing a lot of artists incorporating elements of hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music into their work, and it’s resulting in some really innovative and fresh sounds. Another trend that’s been gaining momentum is the rise of international artists, particularly in genres like K-pop and Latin music. These artists are bringing new sounds and perspectives to the global music scene. (This is actually smarter than I would have answered.)
Can you name some specific artists or bands that you believe are pushing boundaries and doing something really unique and innovative?
Sure, there are so many talented artists out there right now. One artist that comes to mind is Billie Eilish. She’s doing something really unique with her sound and her style, and I think she’s appealing to a whole new generation of music fans. (I would never have picked Billie Eilish as an example — I think she’s very overrated. I wrote of her as having recorded the worst of 50 worst songs by otherwise great artists for “No Time To Die.”)
I’m also a big fan of Tyler, The Creator. (Nope, I’m not.) He’s always been someone who pushes boundaries and takes risks, and his latest album is no exception. (Someone might feel that, I do not. Does he even have a “latest album”?) Another artist that I think is doing really interesting things is Lizzo. (Sorry, but no! I know she’s a cultural darling and supposed to be immune from criticism, but I think her music is just awful — bland and unoriginal.) She’s bringing a much-needed sense of fun and positivity to the music world, and her music is resonating with a lot of people. (I can’t argue with her resonating. I’d split hairs on the “fun” part… For new/newly emerging artists who are really interesting and talented, I would say Weyes Blood, Samara Joy, Sam Himself, Rozzi, Marcus Strickland, UPSAHL, Robert Finley is a favorite, Vic Mensa. Check them out.)
How does SPIN approach covering new and emerging artists, and what sets the magazine apart from other music publications?
(Tough question! Hard-hitting journalism, this!) At SPIN, we’re always on the lookout for new and exciting artists. We have a dedicated team of writers and editors who are passionate about music and who are always looking for the next big thing. What sets us apart from other publications is our commitment to championing emerging artists and providing a platform for diverse perspectives. (Well, none of that is untrue, it’s just that I would rather cut my own testicles off, fry them, and eat them in a sandwich than talk like that.) We’re not just interested in covering the biggest names in music – we’re also interested in discovering and promoting new talent. (That bit’s true, and I have said that dozens of times in interviews with humans.)
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing major disruptions in the music industry, how has SPIN adapted to these changes and continued to provide coverage of the music world?
The pandemic has definitely presented some challenges, but we’ve adapted by focusing on digital content and finding new ways to engage with our audience. We’ve been covering the various ways that artists have been adapting to the pandemic – from live streaming performances to finding new ways to collaborate remotely. We’ve also been keeping a close eye on the industry as a whole and reporting on the ways that the pandemic has affected the music world. (Sadly, I only have one set of testicles.)
Looking ahead to the future of music, what do you see as the biggest trends or changes that we can expect to see?
That’s a tough question. (Jesus, the only harder question would be what did I have for breakfast.) I think we can expect to see continued innovation and experimentation in music. (Personally, I don’t. I think possible (listenable) experimentation and innovation in music is limited at this point. Other than mechanically generated sounds, I think we’ve used all the available sounds in music and all the reasonable combinations and permutations.) As technology continues to evolve, we’ll see new sounds and new approaches to making music. I also think that we’ll continue to see a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the music world. It’s important for the industry to reflect the diversity of the world around us, and I think we’re moving in the right direction on that front. (AI must have a reservoir of stock things to say and whereas this sounds mighty sensitive of me, I wouldn’t have said this, because there really isn’t a culture that’s been more diverse than music. I can’t think of any field that is more inclusive, vigilant, and successful against discrimination. Even historically, companies like Motown weren’t possible in other cultures, for instance, for decades. Which is not to say artists don’t still experience racism, and that is a fight, against racism, that must be continually and unwaveringly fought.) And of course, the pandemic has shown us that the way we consume and experience music is constantly evolving (No it didn’t. If anything the pandemic retarded creating and limited experiencing music), so it will be interesting to see how that continues to shape the industry in the coming years. (If I was this dull, I’d actually shoot myself…)
What advice would you give to aspiring music journalists or those interested in pursuing a career in music journalism?
My advice would be to immerse yourself in the world of music. Listen to as much music as you can, go to concerts and festivals, and read as much music writing as you can get your hands on. (Nope, not my advice at all! First of all, listening to music and going to concerts and festivals until your feet fall off will do the sum of sweet FA for your growth as a writer. And, sadly, most music writing is dreck — not here at SPIN! You’re safe here — so it is, in the pursuit of growth, to be avoided.
My advice is a) read voraciously, particularly the best writers and books and journalism — inhale words. Listening to music will not help you write better… If you listen to enough and have a discerning ear, it will probably help you understand context more, which is not valueless, but won’t write better sentences, just, perhaps, more informed ones. And b) learn to become a storyteller — the ability to tell a story better than someone else is what will distinguish you. And we’re always looking for that here, FYI.)