Ballroom Dancing

SXSW panels

Ballroom Dancing
Photo By Gary Miller

Quantum Music Analysis (QMA) of Hit Songs

Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 17

To some, Mike McCready is a savior-in-waiting. To others, he's Satan incarnate – at least as far as music-making goes. McCready's company, Platinum Blue Music Intelligence, has a computer program that determines which overlapping characteristics ("optimal mathematical properties") are most often found in popular hit music of the last half century. Using a proprietary assortment of over 30 weighted variables like tempo, melody, and harmony, this analytic tool finds certain clusters that are used to predict – with 85% accuracy, according to McCready – whether a song is likely to be a hit compared to other similar hit songs. Since big labels are all about the bottom line, they'll shell out $5,000 to find out if an album is likely to have any hits. While McCready originally described the program as merely "a detection device," he went on to say that it's been used in the studio to the extent that "this bassline is keeping you out of a hit cluster." McCready, a self-professed songwriter, stated that his company's mission is "to be the bridge between technology and the music industry." So, if you're in music to make money, Quantum Music Analysis will excite you. If you make music to follow your muse, it represents the first page of a new chapter in reducing art for the soul-sucking sake of commerce.

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