Although Eurovision 2020 has sadly been cancelled, the digital AI Song Contest is going ahead as planned. As an addition to the Eurovision Song Contest, Dutch public broadcaster VPRO together with NPO Innovation and NPO 3FM have organised a song competition for artificial intelligence. The experiment aims to explore whether computers are capable of composing Eurovision hits on a par with last year’s winning song by Duncan Laurence.

In recent weeks, thirteen teams from all across Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland and Australia have been running their software non-stop in an effort to generate the ultimate hit song. From 10 April, all the AI songs will be available online and the public will be able to vote. Which computer would easily qualify for the official 2021 Eurovision Song Festival and even earn douze points? The winner will be announced on Tuesday, 12 May.

Musical AI experts

The entries will not only be judged by the public, but also by a panel of AI experts. The panel will consist of Vincent Koops (NL), Senior Data Scientist at RTL and composer; Anna Huang (US), leading AI researcher in music generation; and Ed Newton-Rex (UK), composer and head of the ByteDance AI lab.

YouTube series

VPRO will follow the work of one of the Dutch teams, which includes Dutch artist Willie Wartaal. Starting on Friday 10 April, 3FM’s YouTube channel will devote five episodes to exploring various aspects of AI. They will formulate what ingredients are needed to compose the ultimate hit, explore ways of enabling a computer to independently generate a catchy melody and instruct a machine to pen the lyrics for a song. Other broadcasters and production companies in Eurovision affiliated countries are encouraged to make stories about a team competing in their country.