Years ago I had this crazy idea: A sculptor is given a block of stone to work on in his studio. Somewhere on another continent, an identical block of stone is placed in some (probably rich) person's house. The sculptor starts shaping the stone on his/her own schedule, a few minutes here, a few hours there. The sculptor's motions are tracked and duplicated by robotic arms working on the second stone. So periodically, the rich patron gets to see the sculptor's work unfold at random times, and at the end is left with an identical sculpture.
I was reminded of it by watching musician Nigel Stanford's "Automatica" music video, which incorporates Kuka Robotics arms:
Despite the fact that the video ends exactly the way a robophobe like me thought it would, my question to you is: Let's say the robot arms could be programmed to precisely duplicate a track recorded by your favorite musician. Not just playing the same notes, but in the same style, the exact same expression of the notes. So here are my questions:
1. Would you pay to see a live concert of your favorite musician, but with the lights out, so that no one could actually see said musician?
2. Would you pay to see a live concert of the robot arms playing, while the actual musician was in a studio miles away having his/her movements duplicated?
3. Assuming the robot arms could be programmed to duplicate performances based on audio recordings, would you pay to see a live concert of the robots playing, say, Prince? Or any deceased artist?
Most of us consume most of our music in the absence of the actual artist. The live experience is sonically very different, and then there is the thrill of being in the same space as the actual artist creating the music in real time. I'm wondering how far people will be willing to deviate from the real experience in the future.