Oct 26, 2023 - News

Austin-based music app integrates generative AI

Illustration of a robot carrying a boombox on its shoulder.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Users of Austin-based social listening app Earbuds can now build playlists, find songs and discover new artists with the help of a virtual assistant powered by ChatGPT.

Driving the news: The app, which allows users to easily share music across streaming platforms, recently announced that it has integrated generative artificial intelligence.

What they're saying: Founder and CEO Jason Fox said that leveraging AI for music discovery will provide a more personal experience than typical algorithms.

  • "If we're helping users discover songs, discover artists, discover new music — that's going to lead them to share it with their network," he told Axios. "If we can power that discovery, that's going to help the rest of our mission as well."

Catch up quick: Fox, a former NFL offensive tackle who now resides in Austin, launched Earbuds in 2019 while watching current Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton warm up before a game.

  • "I was curious what he was listening to, but more than that, how many people watching would love to be in Cam's headphones right now," he said.
  • The app allows a listener on one streaming service to share a song with a friend on another platform, livestream music and comment on friends' music picks.
  • The company now has eight full-time employees and two contractors. Investors in Earbuds include Techstars, Ecliptic Capital and individuals like Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and football legend Brett Favre.

What's new: Fox hopes the latest update using generative AI will keep users on the app, even if they have yet to add friends.

  • Earbuds can now create AI-generated playlists based on user prompts.
  • There's also a private chat feature where users can ask their virtual assistant to create playlists, find songs or learn more about an artist.

Zoom out: Technology platforms have jumped on generative AI, which produces unique images and text from human prompts, to improve their products.

  • ChatGPT, developed by a company called OpenAI, uses text for both its input and output. Other systems — including another OpenAI product, called DALL-E — can generate images from a text prompt. Google and Meta are working on similar technologies.
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