Frequently asked questions about the AI Song Contest.

What is the AI Song Contest?

The AI Song Contest is an international creative AI contest. Teams from all over Europe and Australia try to create the next Eurovision hit with the help of AI. A panel of AI experts and the audience gets to determine the winner who will be announced on 12 May 2020. The contest is being organised by Dutch public broadcaster VPRO in collaboration with NPO 3FM and NPO Innovation. 

Why organize the AI Song Contest?

Artificial intelligence has come to play an important role in our lives, whether we are aware of it or not, and that role will only grow in the coming years. With the AI Song Contest we want to explore the creative possibilities and limitations of AI. How will the techniques we call AI be of influence to us as creative animals in the future? 

What are the basic rules for the teams?

  1. The challenge for the teams was to create a Eurovision-like song of maximum 3 minutes with the available data and (the help of) AI.

  2. Teams could use their own AI but were also allowed to use existing models and algorithms to generate melodies, harmonies, lyrics and/or audio.

  1. Teams have to be transparent. They have to provide insight into their process and the systems they used by writing a process document. In this process document they describe how their AI model(s) work(s) and what data they used.

  1. The more musical content created with AI, the more points they can earn (bubbles for everyone). Human interventions were allowed, but this will cost them points from the AI-panel. We’re not completely anti-human, but we know how to appreciate an AI-performer.

  1. The final song is an audio file. There is no video with glitter and glamour involved in the voting process. It’s just the audio.

  1. Competing teams must work in Europe or Eurovision affiliated countries. Sorry for Uncle Sam.

  2. Sharing is caring. We ask all competitors to share their algorithms, models and codes open source if possible.

What is VPRO?

VPRO is an independent public broadcasting company, tracing all the way back to 1926. Through the decades, it has continued to reinvent itself, thus remaining relevant to many different audiences within a constantly changing society. VPRO’s creative teams explore what’s happening at the edges of society, chase innovation and contribute to the public discourse.

Our audience can find us on a multitude of platforms: on the television or radio, in a weekly magazine, on websites, in apps, during live events. And we are always looking for new ways to stimulate meaningful conversation. Global citizenship and creativity are core values at VPRO. We encourage interest, engagement and participation by being involved in a broad range of cultural and scientific activities. We have won numerous awards, including Emmy Awards, Prix Europa and many prizes at internationally renowned film festivals.

Who are partners in this project?

For the AI Song Contest the VPRO is partnering with NPO Innovation and NPO 3FM. NPO Innovation is the innovation hub and supporter for all Dutch Public Broadcasters. NPO 3FM is a Dutch radio station with a focus on new music. This can be commercial rock and pop music, with additional alternative, electronic, house and dance music.

How does the organisation of the AI Song Contest define artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is a very broad concept. But for this contest it will mean that teams can earn points for using techniques such as machine learning, natural language processing, neural networks and deep learning for the creation of their songs.

How did the teams use AI to create their songs?

A huge variety of AI techniques were used by the teams to create their songs. All teams have written a process document to describe what techniques they’ve used, how they’ve used it and why they choose to use these. The panel of AI experts will evaluate the songs based on these extensive process documents. You can read a shorter and edited version of the work processes soon on their team pages.

Did the teams work with a performer?

Some teams worked with a musical performer, artist, band or producer. Their songs are a collaboration between (wo)man and machine. Others worked merely with computer techniques to build their song. 

How will the songs be evaluated?

Each song can earn up to 24 points: 12 points from the panel of AI experts and another 12 from the international audience. 

The panel will evaluate the songs based on different levels. How was the data being used? Does the song have an interesting structure? To what extent have the melody, harmony, lyrics and audio been generated by AI?

The evaluation by the audience happens online on this website between 10 April and 10 May. The audience can evaluate all songs on different levels: the complete song, lyrics, originality and -of course- Eurovisioness. Members of the audience can choose to evaluate as many songs as they want. 

By combining the votes from the audience and the AI panel, we want to challenge the teams to go as far as possible in the use of AI, but also try to make a song that appeals to a larger audience.

Is the AI Song Contest somehow connected to the official Eurovision Song Contest?

No, the AI Song Contest is not directly connected to the official Eurovision Song Contest. 

Is this a scientific project?

Kinda, but not completely. Some teams are writing papers about their process, as is the AI panel about the process of the contest. But the AI Song Contest is really a creative project to find out what AI will mean and already means for creativity.

Who is in the AI Panel?

The panel consists 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 Director at the AI lab at ByteDance.

What types of teams are competing?

Teams consist of developers, coders, scientists, university researchers, musicians and artists.

When and how will the winner be announced?

The winner of the AI Song Contest will be announced on 12 may 2020. More info will follow shortly.

What can teams win?

The winning song will get airtime on Dutch national radio and can count on publicity. There is no (cash) prize attached.

Is the AI Song Contest a one off?

We envisage the event becoming an annual contest. It would present the state of affairs in the field of AI every year, and explore creative applications of AI and stimulate the AI debate.