Can ChatGPT be a groundbreaking tool for artists and DJs?

An incredibly smart assistant who can turbo-charge your marketing and your creativity—that’s how David Boyle, co-author of PROMPT, explains the AI chatbot to us in this fascinating interview.

If you’re an aspiring artist or DJ, you’ll no doubt be aware that reaching an audience can be challenging. In fact, if you’re an established artist or DJ, you’ll no doubt be aware that reaching an audience can be challenging. It’s a competitive and crowded marketplace. The range of tools and platforms available to you under the broad umbrella of “marketing” can be dizzying. Just a partial list of the things to think about might include social media, streaming, gig bookings, email, record labels, publicity, management, brand relationships, merchandise—and that’s to say nothing of the effort required to hone your craft. 

David Boyle feels your pain. After spending 20-plus years helping some of the world’s biggest artists and brands reach audiences through the smart use of data, he recently turned his attention to ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot that now has an estimated 1.16 billion monthly users. ChatGPT allows users to have human-like conversations. It answers questions and assists with tasks, and has been used to do everything from writing emails, code, essays and song lyrics, to imitating celebrities,, summarizing texts, helping study languages and composing music. 

In PROMPT for Musicians, the book he co-authored with Richard Bowman, David explains how ChatGPT can help make most things on the modern artist and DJ’s to-do list “better, clearer, quicker and more fun.” There are chapters on understanding your audience, planning releases and creating marketing assets, while the book also suggests how ChatGPT could be used to shape a DJ set, write chord progressions or pen lyrics. 

David is passionate about the idea that as many people as possible have access to this information, and has therefore made the book available to readers of this article for free. (You’ll just need to click “add to cart” and head to the checkout for the discount to be applied, or alternatively use the discount code K7N4WRK5N0TK at checkout.)

With all of this said, our conversation with David also covered the much less positive aspects of AI. The arrivals of ChatGPT, image generation technology and other AI models have raised extremely difficult questions related to copyright, plagiarism, misinformation and job losses, not to mention AI’s potential eventual threat to human civilisation. However, David encourages us to live with this tension, taking AI’s dangers as seriously as possible, while also benefiting from its many groundbreaking advancements.

Across your career, have you noticed any common areas that artists have struggled with when it comes to marketing and using data?

There are a lot of themes. First, let’s start with my passion, data, and particularly as it relates to understanding your audience. This is very, very hard for an artist to do. The data they have available to them, let’s say social media metrics, or streaming metrics, are not that useful. They’re maybe interesting but they’re not that actionable. So a lot of artists look at the metrics they’re given and just say, ‘I don’t know what to do with these.’ And they’re right. I don’t know what to do with most of those as well. 

You have to be quite knowledgeable, and have access to quite interesting tools in order to really get what I call insight, which is useful facts. So I think artists struggle a lot with understanding their audiences, beyond what they can see and touch and feel in their day-to-day lives. So that’s a massive, massive struggle. If you’re not clear who your audience is, in a useful way, that makes everything you do harder. 

In terms of challenges, I think the world is only getting more and more complex in terms of the number of marketing channels available. Within each of those channels there are a number of ways you can do marketing. I’ve lost track of how many different ways you can do marketing on Instagram, it’s uncountable the number of different options that you have. So there’s incredible complexity every single day being added. And then for me, the way to cut through that complexity is clarity on your audience, and therefore clarity on the kinds of things you should do to go get them.

What were your initial impressions of ChatGPT? Why did it make sense to you? 

So I think there’s “first use,” and then there’s “first professional use.” They’re different, and that’s important. My first use was being really silly with it. Like writing a poem to people, or explaining quantum physics in the style of Snoop Dogg. I had a client who hadn’t paid their invoice in a really annoying way. So I wrote them a poem about how sad it was for a small business to not have their invoices paid on time. So the first use was really just being silly with it. I think that playing around, messing around, having fun is a great way to learn something new, as I think every artist would already know. 

Then quickly you turn your attention to, ‘Alright, how can this be useful for me?’ What I do is understand audiences and think about how to market to those audiences. So with this amazing tool that writes awesome raps, can it be useful to us? And if so, how can we make the best out of it?

[Richard and I] just went through, activity by activity, that we do in our daily lives, that we’ve been doing for 20 years. We pushed ChatGPT hard, saying, how can it be as helpful as possible? It just blew our minds, day after day. 

I think this is how I would recommend anybody approach it: to have fun first, then think about what you actually are struggling with every day, and then work out, can it be helpful? (Well, the answer is yes.) And then how can it be helpful? That’s a great way to approach it. 

One of the central claims you make in the book is that ChatGPT can help to empower artists, as you put it. You also say that it can help them make a living from music. Could you explain in broad strokes how it can do these things?

The easiest way to think of it is: I’m an artist but I’m also burdened with quite a lot of non-artist-related activities, like dealing with labels, dealing with promoters, dealing with streaming services, dealing with management. If I could be quicker, better and clearer in how I deal with them, and if that process could be more fun for me, then my life would be better and I could spend more time on my art. That’s one way of looking at it. 

We promise that ChatGPT makes all of those activities better, clearer, quicker and more fun. A couple of academic studies have shown that to be true as well. Whether that’s writing your artist bio, or pitching your music to a streaming service, or understanding your audience, or planning your release, or creating marketing assets, they’re all detailed in the book. They’re all areas where it can help you vastly, and then you can focus on your art. That’s one way of looking at it. 

Then the other way of looking at it is to say, ‘Can it help me with my art as well?’ And there are many, many examples of how it can, although we wouldn’t presume to tell you exactly how you should be doing that. So I would say start with the non-art-related stuff, and then I bet you’ll see it creep over into helping you writing or producing or doing the more creative side of your trade.

Maybe we could bring this to life with a quick case study. Say I’m an emerging artist. I’ve been working on my music for a couple years. I’m happy with my music and feeling pretty confident. But I don’t know the first thing about social media. And let’s also say that I want to make connections in the industry. How would you start with ChatGPT?

I would start two steps behind that, as the book recommends. I would say the first thing to do is to be clear who you’d like to engage with your music, the audience that you want to reach. The clearer you can see who that audience is, the easier everything else will be. The social media channels you should be using, and the kind of wording and messages that you should use in those channels. So one of the first chapters of the book is about how you can understand your audience. 

We suggest a few different prompts that allow you to bring to life different possible audiences, whether it’s based on your genre, or some other aspect of your creative direction. 

So step one, I think, is to really get very clear on who your audience is. So the next thing you might do is tell ChatGPT, ‘Hey, I’m trying to target this audience,’ and describe your music and your objectives. Maybe you’ve got a new EP or a new album coming out, so we ask ChatGPT, ‘What should I be doing in terms of marketing, to reach this audience as effectively as possible? What kind of channels should I be using? How can I use them in a way that would engage this particular audience?’ And then like marketing messages, ‘How can I describe my EP in a way that’s as compelling as possible for this particular audience?’ Questions like that. 

One really clear message from the book is that the quality of the information you put into ChatGPT is correlated with the quality of the information that you get out of it. 

If you had an assistant in the real world, the first thing you want to do is to tell them all about yourself so they can understand your goals and aspirations, your styles, your ambitions, and your annual means, what kind of budget you have. 

I think a lot of people skip that with ChatGPT. They just ask for a release plan. But you wouldn’t ask an assistant for a release plan unless you’d already briefed the assistant on lots of those things. The same lesson applies. The more context you give it about your music, your style, your background, your history or objectives, your means, the better able it will be to serve you. 

Imagine yourself in its position. If you just ask for a release plan it doesn’t know if you’re a rock artist or a heavy metal artist or an underground electronic music artist, it doesn’t know unless you tell it. So if you do tell it, it will behave very, very differently. 

It’s important to remember that if you do this in any one chat session, it does its best to remember all of these things. But as soon as you start a new chat session with ChatGPT it will forget absolutely everything, will reset, and you’ll have to brief it again.

You talk a lot in the book about “warming it up.” 

It’s really useful to warm it up in any one session. And then it’s really useful to start a whole fresh session, start again, and warm it up in a different way or with a different perspective, a different background. When you want to expand on a session it really is a tactical decision. And it’s a very tactical decision when you start a new one as well.

Thinking about your audience segmentation methodology, I wondered what your process was with the book? Who were you hoping to reach? 

That’s a really good question. I think one of the problems with ChatGPT is that the audience who could benefit from it is basically almost everybody. I’ve worked with small artists and major artists. I’ve worked with psychotherapists and content writers. I’ve worked with marketers and chief executives of major corporations. I’ve worked with press and PR people. I think there’s absolutely no limit to the audience that it can help. 

So that’s a real problem if you’re writing a book about it, which is why I think we start the book saying, here are the things that we will cover in this book. If you do these things then we hope this book will be helpful to you. 

I could immediately see how what you were explaining in the book could be applicable in other fields and areas. 

I’m really glad I came across that way. I can’t tell you what prompt to use because I don’t know you. I don’t know your goals, or aspirations. I don’t know your vision. I don’t know your means. So I can’t do that. But hopefully I can teach you how to adapt what’s in the book to make it useful to you. 

Just thinking about DJs specifically, are there particular ways you feel ChatGPT could be a useful tool for them?

Since I come from a marketing background, I’m going to speak authoritatively on that topic and shy away from talking about the creative aspects. So as a DJ, your brand has never been more important. Being clear on what your brand is, writing that down in a way that’s really clear for other people. Those types of things are often clear in your head but they’re rarely written down in a way that’s clear to anybody else. 

This is a way of getting out of your head and helping everybody else to get on the same page. Artists and DJs have the same marketing and relationship challenges. So I think all of that applies. 

There are some examples towards the end of the book that demonstrate ChatGPT’s ability to understand tracks and how you might mix tracks and how you might sequence a set. I’m no expert in that topic. So I wouldn’t want to tell you that it in any way should be used. But there’s some nascent abilities there. So I would encourage you to explore that and play with that as well.

That was one of the areas of the book that I had quite a strong reaction to. Initially I was very impressed that ChatGPT could potentially do those things. But then the more I thought about it, my feeling was, why would I want to hand those things to ChatGPT? It’s kind of like, just because it can, doesn’t mean we should. 

That was exactly one of the tweets I shared on the subject of that case study.  Just because you can use it to DJ, doesn’t mean you should. It’s technology. It’s good to explore what it can do. But that doesn’t mean you should use it in all those ways. I think at the end of the day, though, the same advice applies on the marketing side as it applies on the creative side: the best use of it is to amplify your existing capabilities. 

There’s a lot of things that I’m really, really good at on the marketing side. And this really amplifies them. I’m better now. I’m quicker and I’m clearer. It’s more fun for me to do those things. But I stay in control. I guide the prompts and write the prompts and iterate the response that ChatGPT comes back with. Sometimes I ignore everything it writes, apart from maybe one line or one sentence or one idea that it has come up with that I wouldn’t have thought of. 

Ultimately the document I publish or share with the client or use is my document. It’s definitely been inspired by, challenged by, enhanced by ChatGPT. But it’s my work. I’ve shaped it and I’ve edited it, and I own it. And I bet the same lessons apply on the creative side. But yeah, just get it to challenge you and provoke you with ideas. 

I would never write a document in ChatGPT and push publish, and you should never do creative work in ChatGPT and just use it. That’s probably the same lesson.

That brings us onto the topic of the quality of the responses, the facts—or not—it responds with. Could you offer any quick tips about assessing its output?

If we step back, think about what we’re doing here: prompting it to give us a response. That language actually is really important. We’re not commanding it, not instructing. We’re prompting it, we’re nudging, we’re guiding it, we’re influencing. What it’s not doing is answering our question, or following our instructions. It’s replying in a way that it thinks is the most likely to meet your needs.  

The second part is that it’s not good at factual recall. So any task that’s a factual recall task is not a good task for ChatGPT. Don’t ask it for dates or quotes or BPMs or anything that’s factual recall, it’s not very good at that. But in some cases it really is, and that’s very interesting. 

So whenever your response has facts in it or relies on facts or is required to be true, then you really need to fact-check it using another means or using your own expertise. There’s a lot of use cases where it doesn’t need to be true, like, ‘Hey, rewrite this to make it more compelling.’ There are no facts or truth there, it just is or isn’t more compelling to you. Or sequencing a DJ set. I don’t know if it really knows the BPMs and the transition points. If it does and that’s useful, that’s great. But you should fact check it.

Let’s talk about some of the pushback that AI and ChatGPT have received from the artistic community. Reading your book, I was trying to reconcile the idea of empowering artists with all of the news coverage of artists from different disciplines raising issues of copyright infringement and exploitation. And also on a basic level, there’s the idea that robots are taking our jobs. How do you hold that tension in mind? 

I think there’s a tremendous tension there. Tremendous uncertainty. Lots of things to be very, very concerned about. Absolutely. So if I step back for a minute, I think a lot of the concerns and tensions and fears here are a bit like those around climate change. We absolutely should take them seriously. We absolutely should take time to invest time in mitigation, prevention, fixing problems that have already been caused, we absolutely should do all those things. But also, if we need to go to Ibiza, we should get on a plane. 

With AI we absolutely should spend time on all these concerns and challenges and take them seriously. But if you’re trying to market your music release, you should use AI. I think we have that uncomfortable tension where we should do both. I think on the tensions themselves, the most obvious one to me is that by using it, we are using the data that it was trained on. Original work by people who have not been compensated for this use. 

If you use it to help you think about sequencing a DJ set, somebody at some point wrote down the reasons why that song works in the way it does. That person is not being compensated for that knowledge making it into your set, right? The same with marketing campaigns. So that feels like a problem.

I think it was Isaac Newton who said that if he’s achieved great things it’s because he stands on the shoulders of giants, and every invention, every step forward, and every industry has always been based on everything that came before. But never quite as explicitly as this. So I think there’s the moral question there, definitely. 

But I think on the jobs point, I don’t worry for one second at all. In my field, where I’m an expert at marketing, I’m very, very clear that it makes good people better, and it makes most junior people better. It basically just helps everybody. I feel like in my team [with ChatGPT] I have many, many new employees who are available to me 24/7, and experts in so many different topics.  

I also can take on more work than ever before, and every human member of my team is more valuable than ever before. So I don’t think there’s any risk of job losses in total, and I think it’s just incredibly empowering for absolutely everybody. I think the only job losses will be people who refuse to use it, just as there probably were job losses when people refused to use computers. There were probably job losses when people refused to use email as well. It’s just incredibly empowering to everybody. There’s so much more work that the world can take on, so much more art that can be created and more ways that can be consumed. I’m not worried about job losses for a second at all, whatsoever.

Are you optimistic when it comes to the future of AI more generally? Like, from an existential perspective, the forecasts range from heaven to hell—you know, the end of all civilization. Are you optimistic?

Definitely not. I think it’s like climate change. It will, or might, end our civilization, as climate change will or might. Will we put in place the safeguards between now and then to solve the problems that it causes? Maybe? Possibly? Probably? It’s not certain at all. 

Should we fly in a plane to Ibiza? Yes. And should we use AI in our work? Yes. But there is this existential threat. When you look at reports from people who’ve used these AIs before they had safeguards added on to them, they call it alignment, so the raw version of ChatGPT before it was aligned. People report that it’s capable of absolutely terrible things. 

And why wouldn’t it be. 

There’s no reason why you should be good at particle physics but not killing people. There’s absolutely no reason. The only reason you can use ChatGPT is because it’s had one arm tied behind its back—but that’s very imperfect. Tying someone’s arm behind their back is absolutely no guarantee that they’re not going to misbehave in interesting ways. I think it’s an incredible challenge. 

That’s really interesting to hear. I mistakenly concluded that your enthusiasm about ChatGPT in the book would translate to bigger-picture optimism about AI. 

Maybe I’m fooling myself by separating the long-term and the short-term. But the short-term is so damn exciting and so incredibly empowering for so many people, I want to help people to embrace that. But in the long-term it’s really, really worrying. Again, millions of people who are really worried about climate change fly to Ibiza every summer. As do I. 

At this stage, how much has ChatGPT weaved itself through your professional life? 

I use it all day, every day. On almost everything I do.


Without exception. I was pretty good at what I did before. I was really proud of it. But what I do is better now. That’s remarkable. I was at my limit; well, I thought I was. And so it’s made me better. I think that’s really humbling, to realize that I wasn’t as good as I could have been. 

I’m quicker now. So things that would have taken me a week to get back to somebody, maybe because I just couldn’t face doing it, or maybe because when I did do it I was so slow. I now get back to them within 10 minutes and with a very thorough response.

I take on projects I never would have taken on before. In February I did this report for the Night Time Industries Association on the economic value of UK electronic music. A big 50-page report on a short deadline. I probably would have said no to doing that report if I hadn’t known that I’d got ChatGPT by my side. I knew I could have handled the economic valuation, the core of the report. But explaining it and bringing it to life and exploring all of the implications of it—I didn’t have the time, I didn’t have the brainpower to do that by myself. But knowing that I had this amazing assistant by my side, to support me and challenge me and nudge me and, you know, fix my dodgy wording. I did a report that I’m incredibly, incredibly proud of, in just a couple of weeks, that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. So yeah, it’s really, really changed my life in so many different ways.

Could you say something about the need for patience and the learning curve involved with ChatGPT? It’s so different from what we’re used to, I get the impression that people might be tempted to give up quite quickly if they don’t immediately get what they want from it. 

Here’s what I’d say to somebody in that situation. So first of all, David Boyle is telling you that work is better, quicker, clearer and more fun with this. Also, at least two academic studies have shown that to be true in different forms of life as well. So maybe it’s not just David, maybe there’s other evidence. OK, so maybe there’s something here? 

Secondly, I would honestly start by having fun with it. Just play with it and be silly. Don’t put too much pressure on it and learn its quirks by having fun. And then when you come to apply it to work, I would say pick one pain point of yours, which might be creating marketing assets, or it might be dealing with your manager’s emails, might be looking at contracts, just pick one pain point of yours, and get really good at using ChatGPT in that one area. 

In doing so you’ll learn that it often fails on its first attempt, and you need to try again and again and again. You’ll learn how to make it work on the second try instead of the third try. And then a first try instead of the second. You’ll learn all sorts of lessons which make it really easy to roll it out into other areas. 

You need a win to celebrate and to motivate you. The first win is probably being silly and having fun with your friends. And the second is probably in one area of your professional life. And then go on from there to others. The one mistake people make is: try here, it doesn’t quite work. So they try to use it somewhere else, that doesn’t quite work. Try it somewhere else, that doesn’t quite work. And then just giving up. Push through, persevere in at least one area.

I guess it’s also about redefining the relationship we have with a new technology.  

A good way to think of it is to come back to our notion that it’s an incredibly capable system you happen to communicate with by text. Treat it like that and bounce ideas off it. And ask for help. When I often have a new idea, or some crazy thought comes to me, the first thing I did in the old world was to write it down in my notebook. I got through one notebook a month. 

This notebook has lasted me three months because now most of my new thinking goes into ChatGPT. I have an idea. I put it in ChatGPT and say, ‘What do you think of this?’ And it says, ‘David, that’s great, here’s three reasons why it’s really thoughtful. But you know what, here’s four reasons why that might not be quite right. You need to rethink it.’ My notebook didn’t do that. 

Words: Ryan Keeling