Don’t fear the RoboPiano man. Or AI.

There is fear and loathing among creatives, entertainers, and artists alike regarding AI and robotics. This self-inflicted pain should stop and make room for embracing new opportunities. No technology will ever kill human creativity, but a lack of new ideas will.

Sascha Seifert
6 min readJun 20, 2024
The roads ahead. Forward. (Photo © 2024 Sascha Seifert)

Even the most concerned technology skeptics must admit that the history of the arts — and, with this, the history of entertainment — is a story of innovation and change.

From campfire storytelling to the movies, caveman paintings to the Mona Lisa, drumming on hides to Walter von der Vogelweide and Beyoncé performing at your local stadium, since humanity learned to print books or record, store, and mass reproduce stored music … — new technologies have always pushed the boundaries of how artists can express themselves.

Guitars do not grow on trees; every acoustic instrument known today was once a technological innovation. All entertainment and art genres, like cinema or concerts, presented how we are used to today, wouldn’t be around now if technology didn’t enable them. Not to mention everything we label “gaming” today.

Artists adapting to technological progress usually benefit. A painting caveman would have been happy to reach audiences (and resulting income) at a scale Banksy does nowadays. I’m sure von der Vogelweide would have loved the opportunities (and resulting income) Beyonce has been able to experience since the beginning of her almost three-decade-long career as a recording artist and performer.

So, no matter how uncomfortable it might be for some, trying to discontinue this unavoidable process of the further fusion between the arts, entertainment, and technology is a bit like deciding to fight the rules of gravity despite having voluntarily signed up for that parachute jumping experience across the Golden Coast while just jumping out of the cruising plane.

Undoubtedly, there are some things related to the rapid AI developments that artists and entertainers need to be aware of. Not everything (big) tech proposes needs to be accepted without objections (Scarlett Johansson did the right thing recently!). The results of creative works, copyrights, and IP rights must be well respected. Whoever wants to train a model (LLM) aimed at commercialization as a service tool should pay for the data used for the training — and so on.

But there is a lot of room between standing up for your rights and demonizing an entire technology based on fear and almost reactionist thinking of being able to stop the world in its ways just because new developments might make one’s own life uncomfortable — like with making headlines by asking for “prohibition of AI” in specific fields of creativity (btw. prohibition is a concept of thinking that hasn’t done great at all no matter where … try integration instead and repeat.)

And, yes, sure, AI as we know it by now and everything it might develop into eventually (AGI) is a different beast compared to, e.g., going from acoustic guitars to electric guitars. Agreed. However, unless you are a prophet of AI doom, the world will keep spinning, right? People will continue to be around with all the needs people have. For example, watching other people’s creative works or artists doing exciting things on stage or via filmed entertainment, etc.

But having worked in the creative industries myself for a long time, we all should admit that it’s not necessarily an industry where success comes easily — it has never been and will never be. And there is a tendency to blame many bogeymen for things that appear bumpy whenever possible. So, to no surprise, for example, today’s music business often brings up the same per se stereotypes of third-party accusations against “evil AI” that were brought up per se against “evil major” record labels decades ago. (Let’s not go into the questions about how realistic “easy success” is for now. :-) )

That’s why I believe that while managing their businesses, artists, entertainers, and creatives need to take charge, embrace new technology, and start exploring what’s in store for them.

Because early movers are up for the win. Some examples:

Kraftwerk has been successfully performing robo-concerts for about three decades*. With ticket prices going through the roof right now at the same rate as — let’s say, for example — Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band’s “real sweat, real people playing real instruments live” Rock’n’Roll shows …

Animation and CGI technology have broadened the horizons of filmmakers for decades — with box office and streaming income on the rise for decades. Same script work, the same process of filmmaking, and a far better chance of financial upsides for those who dare … Some of the highest-earning on-screen performers that ever walked this planet nowadays mainly act in front of Green Screens or “rent” out their voices to animated characters… (ask James Cameron about all this for more details …)

Abba launched their avatar show “Abba Voyage” in London two years ago. Successfully running until today. Yes, with this, they monetize one of the most famous song catalogs we know today. But, in some ways, they don’t practice anything Millie Vanillie hasn’t practiced in the 1990s… similar to what was demonstrated with The Monkees in the 1960s… Every music genre will sooner or later embrace a band that is (AI-only generated) avatars performing at a location near you. (Mark my words!)

Recently, NFT showed us where digital-only collectibles can and will go. For many reasons, the market mostly collapsed this time, but the general idea will not go away. I promise you.

“OK, but what about if AI connects with robotics?” Well. In the bigger picture, the “self-playing piano” has already been in hotel lobbies for decades. Will it become much more fascinating beyond the novelty moment once a “human-like” robot that pretends to play is added? Or one that even plays “on its own”? Even if it plays “on location generated AI tunes”? I don’t think so. Because the self-playing piano has yet to destroy humanity’s fascination with human piano players. And no robot added ever will. From a content creator’s perspective, it’s the other way around: Technology helps to keep the audience’s fascination alive. Imagine being the one who handles the rights to a genuinely great “Freddie Mercury Robot” playing an acoustic version of the Queen songbook in many hotel lobbys simultaneously at a quality that feels very much like once the original thing … (“But that’s awful, people will never like this” … — Hm, and what about Madame Tussauds™?)

I could go on and on with this list. Still, I leave it to anyone’s imagination to find ways to weave new stories that embrace the future’s tech-driven opportunities.

Great storytelling will always stay in fashion, enabled by great ideas and technology. Ultimately, for the arts and entertainment, it’s all about novel ideas, talent, emotions, and applying the right (tech)tools.

Creators and performers, don’t be afraid. Do what you do best. Embrace technology doing it.

Sing us a song you’re the piano man
Sing us a song tonight
Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody
And you’ve got us feeling alright.

Billy Joel

*Yup, I know that “Kraftwerk Live” means Hütter, Schmitz, Grieffenhagen, and Bongartz are performing on stage. However, and I’m saying that as a big fan of EDM and EDM LiveActs since the early days of all things EDM and “Techno”-Live Acts, I consider presenting a Live show where computers generate music “Live” that primarily relies on impressive visuals, being something different than an on-stage performance of a band or single person entertainer that is focused on their musical skills as human beings. — Not to compare or label one thing as better than the other. It’s just two different things to me.



Sascha Seifert Analyst. Strategist. Entrepreneur. Visualist. Director. Film. Tech. On Digital transformations. Now. The Future