IBM Watson Makes the GRAMMYs Pop

By | 3 minute read | January 21, 2020

I am a child of the ’80s, raised on a steady diet of fruit rollups and music videos. My most enduring memories of high school are set at my girlfriend’s house, sitting in her den, watching the videos that became the soundtrack of our relationship.

At the time, I was convinced that music videos were the highest art form; a modern fusion of music, poetry and imagery. Then, sometime in the mid-90s, I saw my first pop-up video, the captivating innovation that infused bubble-shaped info nuggets into the music videos of my adolescence. And it went to a whole new level.

Even then, I recognized the genius of these in situ insights. I had trouble retaining the names and dates from history lectures. But I could rattle off dozens of pop-up facts from my favorite artists. Because the information was so contextually relevant, so consumable, it was almost as if it was being burned directly into my long-term memory.

This is the power of delivering the right information at the right time. And to demonstrate how this works in the age of AI, IBM has partnered with the Recording Academy to infuse content across with insights about this year’s GRAMMY-nominated artists.

The solution is called GRAMMY Insights with Watson, and it uses the Natural Language Understanding (NLU) of Watson Discovery to mine bite-sized insights from more than 18 million articles, bios and blogs. It then uses speech-to-text and NLU capabilities to understand the context of content, serving up the most interesting and relevant insights to the Recording Academy digital team. In turn, the team uses those insights to publish to Red Carpet livestream, on-demand videos, photos, and articles across site.

For example, if you’ve ever watched a red carpet broadcast, you know how fast-paced and chaotic they can be: a frenetic mix of sights, sounds and interviews (kind of like a music video). So, the opportunity to infuse actual context and insight into that experience spoke to the teenager in me.

Did you know the Song of the Year nominee, Lewis Capaldi, started playing pubs in Scotland at the age of nine? Or that Brandi Carlile used to sing backup for an Elvis impersonator?

GRAMMY Insights with Watson solves a very real business problem for the Recording Academy and CBS, both of which want to deliver the most compelling experience of Music’s Biggest Night to fans. But it’s also a powerful demonstration of how AI is changing how we learn, and how we work.

IBM Watson Assistant is an AI-based virtual assistant product that lets people build, train, and deploy conversational interactions into any application, device, or channel. It uses many of the same capabilities to serve up relevant information to customer support representatives at the exact moment they need it. And it does this at scale. Lufthansa uses it to support more than 15,000 agents in 180 locations. And it helped Banco Bradesco customer agents reduce their response time from 10 minutes to just a few seconds.

Back in the day, I remember wondering how much work went into uncovering the facts featured in pop-up videos. Did they have to interview the artists? Read hundreds of back issues of Teen Beat magazine? Brave the microfiche machine at the local library?

GRAMMY Insights with Watson shows how AI can distill vast quantities of information into easily consumable insight. And you may argue that digesting pop music facts is easier and more fun than anything the business world has to offer. But when you deliver the right business information to the exactly right person at exactly the right time, it can be just as easy. It can even be a little fun.