DJ Diplo talks AI, investing, and the letdown of web3

Grammy-winning DJ Diplo, also known as Thomas Wesley Pentz, has been experimenting with generative AI tools to outsource various tasks, ranging from writing to video editing. Diplo credits OpenAI’s ChatGPT for helping him write a eulogy tinged with some humor for a tribute event to P-22, a mountain lion who became a viral hit as he roamed the Hollywood Hills neighborhood. Diplo is among many musical artists and social media creators who have been trying to figure out how to use AI tools to save time.

Diplo, who is also a tech investor and a limited partner at Torch Capital, believes startups leveraging generative AI could be an area of future investment for the firm. Torch has backed Kyra, a video content studio, freelancing bank app Lili, and Durable, which offers an AI-powered website builder. Investing has allowed Diplo, 44, to diversify his income even as music continues to be his focus.

One area that’s been a “letdown” for Diplo is Web3. Demand for music owned on the blockchain hasn’t taken off with the masses. He believes that blockchain is a great idea to have better monetary control of finances, but the hype around it has absorbed all of the goodwill. However, Diplo has dabbled in the space and announced a collaboration with Royal, a blockchain-based music royalty marketplace, in March 2022, which allowed fans to buy a small percentage of royalty ownership of his song “Don’t Forget My Love.”

Diplo has also embraced TikTok, whose algorithm famously has propelled songs from both established and unknown musicians to become viral hits. However, he has mixed feelings about its benefits to musicians. TikTok gives people “this [Andy] Warhol-esque version of 15 minutes of fame,” Diplo said. “But it’s very temperamental and it’s very quick. A lot of times you don’t see these streaming hits have anything besides that one, small 15-second clip.”

Diplo admits to being “guilty of chasing” some of the music trends on TikTok but ultimately thinks “the only thing you can do as an artist now is make great music. Those songs do reach people.” As for the topic du jour—TikTok’s potential ban in the U.S.—he said he’d be “mad” to lose his followers there, but said “I’ll find some new ways to reach people. I’ve always been good at that. I was the first DJ really on Twitter. I was always embracing whatever’s new.”

Diplo is an artist who has been experimenting with generative AI tools to save time and outsourcing various tasks. He has also invested in startups leveraging generative AI and diversified his income streams. Although he has mixed feelings about the benefits of TikTok to musicians, he admits that it has propelled songs from both established and unknown musicians to become viral hits. Diplo’s openness to embrace new technologies and platforms demonstrates his adaptability and willingness to innovate in the ever-changing music industry.

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