POLYPHIA’s TIM HENSON On TikTok & AI-Generated Music: “How Can You Adapt?”

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Polyphia guitarist Tim Henson recently sat down with Rick Beato for a lengthy conversation about music, guitar playing, and the industry overall. About halfway through the chat, Beato and Henson started talking about social media promotion. Henson expressed some doubts about how much TikTok actually translates to ticket sales and streams, adding that labels are still pushing the platform very hard.

“Just like in every era, there’s always going to be changes,” said Henson. “And there’s going to be the people that can figure out those changes as they happen. And I guess, currently, we’re in the TikTok era. And I’m wondering how… Because every label is… they just try and push you to make TikToks so that your song possibly pops and then you get radio playing streams and whatever else. And I’m wondering how much of that is going to translate to hard ticket sales and things like that.”

Beato then brought up that TikTok had recently changed its algorithm to favor non-musical posts, which made Henson question how people can constantly change to stay on top of the platform. The conversation also turned to how AI has the potential to put people out of jobs, which frankly should be terrifying everyone at the moment.

“I don’t. But that doesn’t surprise me. It’s moving quicker than ever. And it’s like, how can you adapt? How can you change? Is the art that you’re making going to stand the test of time through each platform? There’s people that made Vines. And how long was Vine around for?

“It’s really weird because you see incredible artists like Steve Lacy go play his concerts, and everybody really only knows, like, the 15 seconds of the thing and then just do him really dirty on the rest of the song. And it’s just like, ‘whoa.’ It’s very odd. And it gets even weirder. I guess on the subject of things changing really rapidly, me and Scott [LePage, the band’s other guitarist] were talking to this yesterday, but like AI. I’m pretty sure that here in the next few months or the next year, we’re gonna have like riff generators that can generate Polyphia-type riffs.

“Everybody’s curious as to whether or not they’re out of a job. I see, like, copywriters no longer have a job because the AI can just generate copy.”

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