[Text] For the Creators demoralized by AI

I feel you.
I had a day today, and yesterday.
It never really got to me, but finally it did.

I’ve seen your videos about losing your jobs to AI.
I’ve seen the videos of people making money by mass-uploading AI music to Spotify.
I’ve seen how OpenAI and other big tech firms seem to outrun the law at every turn.
It scares me too.

I’m not here to call all AI evil. But the narrative and the culture around it scares me.

I wanted to make this text log – this written vlog kind of thing, because I hope that for any of you that were feeling the way I was feeling for the last two days, then you may stumble across this and be reminded that there are many others out there who care about all of our creative torches continuing to burn.

Something occurred to me today. The biggest threat that creators have from AI and the culture around it is the threat to their creative morale.

There is so much talk about losing our jobs. But even after computers beat humans at chess, some 30 years ago, humans played chess more and more.
It is possibly more popular than ever.

Losing our jobs is bad, but we can still retain that fire to create our art, and to share it with the world.

But for many of you, and for me at times, this fire has almost blown out in the AI narrative cycle.

Why is that?

Because our sense of Identity is fused with our art

For some of us, there feels like a question of relevance. This has always been the struggle for people – not just artists. Creators on YouTube have always struggled to find their audiences and feel relevant.
But the way that AI is talked about, it can make it feel like creatives are being displaced – and worse – becoming irrelevant.

Know that I have felt those feelings. Know that I have wrestled with that. More than ever before.

But today I realised something:

AI hasn’t stopped me from being able to use my skills and experience on the art that I love.

It is the news cycle and narratives that I engage with to stay “up-to-date,” but end up making me feel demotivated.

I realised today, that the only battle that REALLY matters in the end, is the battle for that fire in ourselves. That motivation to simply keep making the art we have chosen to commit ourselves to.

How can we keep going?

Where do we get our validation?

Don’t get me wrong, I struggle with this as much as most creators.

Jack Conte, CEO of Patreon gave a fantastic talk recently in which he implied that the numbers that YouTube and other platforms give us about audience engagement are good, but they really aren’t everything about what it means for your creation to resonate on a deep level with the humans on the other side.

He expressed how, if we’re not careful, we end up internalizing those metrics as THE metrics to aim for. And when that happens, we end up skewing our art-making towards those metrics.

Looking at the amount of YouTubers who have “retired” recently, I think it’s safe to say that those metrics are good for media companies, but are not healthy for the creators there to share what they deeply love.

That is why we should aim to find ways of moving that external validation to an internal source.

I am working on this myself, but I can share a couple things that have helped me along the way.

After some years making music, I realized that one of the things that constantly lights my fire is experimenation with new tools and technologies for music and sound-making.

I realized that all the artists that I respected most were those who pushed the boundaries of audio tech – even writing their own music software in many cases.

Beauty in the Process

This is likely subjective, but just like I shared above, I realized that a large part of the beauty I enjoy from the art I love is either knowing about the skills, the techniques and the micro-decisions that the artist made during the process – or at least suspecting there was something cool going on.

This is one reason I personally don’t enjoy AI music and AI art that much. I know that it is just someone pushing a button on the other side. It can sound cool or not cool to my ears, but there is never a sense of beauty that comes from that craftpersonship.

It is a lot like how people choose to watch a game of Football – not just look at the final scores. People want to engage with the process of something great, they want to build a connection and love that process. If it was only about the final result, then our Football stands would be mostly empty.

So what can we do?

I’m not here to suggest bringing up arms to AI. I think the tech companies should be held accountable, and I think anyone who uses AI should make the choice to do so, and understanding how the technology was trained.

I suspect that for many of us creators, we can diffuse our energy trying to fight it, or worry about it, and end up getting distracted and drained from doing what we are here to do: to make art.

Some people reading this ARE the people who are passionate about those fights, and all power to them.
But for those of us who are feeling demoralized and drained, and questioning our artistic identities,

I think we should acknowledge that we are in an incredibly disruptive time – disruptive to the core of who we are. And one of our biggest jobs in the next few years is to protect those fires inside ourselves: the ones that wake us up every day to make art for others.


Location / Album: