News Roundup: A.I., Ticket Bots, V.R., MailChimp, and Mummies

If your news feeds are anything like ours are right now, you probably aren’t paying much attention to technology in the arts. Let’s face it, there are simply more pressing issues we are paying attention to. Here at AMT Lab, we’ve decided to fix this problem for you, giving you a one stop shop for all tech and  arts related news. Starting today, we will be publishing a periodic news roundup, summarizing what we believe to be the top tech and arts stories for you to keep up with.


From Jingles to Pop Hits, A.I. Is Music To Some Ears


Last week, The New York Times reported on several companies using artificial intelligence to create custom composed pieces of music. The idea of machines creating music is not new, but it may be gaining more traction. Companies such as Google and Sony Pictures have invested in the technology and some startups using A.I. to produce music, such as Jukedeck, do not involve actual musicians in the process at all. Jukedeck, a young startup, simply “feeds” their A.I. software hundreds of scores with the goal of teaching it how to compose itself. The technology has come a long way. The NYT article shows you an audio clip of a composition made when Jukedeck first began and an audio clip of one made more recently. The difference is astounding- the old version sounds like a robot made it, but the new version sounds like an artist made it. Of course, as arts managers, this sort of technology forces us to ask questions about ethics. Can, or should, A.I. and other robots replace musicians?


Cameron Mackintosh Unveils Scheme To Tackle Hamilton Ticket Touts

Hamilton has been leading the charge in beating the bots that make it impossible to get tickets to shows at a reasonable price. Lin-Manuel Miranda himself called for action last year in this New York Times piece. Now, West End producer Cameron Mackintosh is “declaring war” on ticket bots, hoping to beat the software and its users in an experiment with the West End production of Hamilton. The plan, according to The Stage, is to give ticket buyers a physical copy of their ticket only once they arrive at the theater on the night of the performance. When customers buy online, they will receive an email with instructions on how to retrieve their ticket. As Mackintosh explains, ticket bot users cannot resell tickets online if they do not have a physical ticket to sell. The Hamilton team is treating this method of ticket distribution as an experiment which they are hoping will “prevent at least 50 percent of online resales.” If you haven’t read about the ticket bot conundrum, check out Katie Grennan’s research on it.


The First Virtual Reality Ballet Springs to Life in Amsterdam


We’ve seen VR all over the place lately. From orchestras to museums, VR has definitely infiltrated the arts. The Dutch National Ballet joined the VR party, creating what they have deemed to be the first virtual reality ballet ever. The Ballet claims one of their main goals of producing the VR ballet was to garner interest from those who are not ballet connoisseurs. By making their work accessible over the Internet, the Ballet hoped it would make the art form more inclusive. The performance is eight minutes long and can be viewed here.


Now MailChimp Is Helping Small Businesses Buy Facebook Ads

MailChimp, a popular tool for email marketing, is now allowing you to create, manage, and analyze Facebook campaigns within their platform. MailChimp’s CEO Ben Chestnut claims “If you use Facebook’s web interface, it’s actually kind of difficult. We take away a lot of steps, a lot of the minutiae, that Facebook has in its interface.” The company also plans to add other integrations into their own platform with the goal of allowing users to manage all of their digital marketing in one place.


Computer Tomography, Volumetric Imaging Reveal Details of Ancient Past


Researchers at the British Museum have determined a way to use direct volume rendering to reveal the insides of ancient mummies in their collection. The images have been turned into a 3D display where visitors can conduct virtual biopsies of the mummy. The technology has also revealed the likely cause of death of the mummy, which researchers believe to be murder by a metal blade.