AI is everywhere and music is no exception. You may have heard of this fake, AI-generated Drake & The Weeknd song entitled “heart on my sleeve” that surfaced on Spotify and other streaming services a few days ago. Before being taken down, it managed to accumulate (in less than 48 hours) millions of views on TikTok, Twitter, Spotify and Youtube! This Twitter upload alone received 20 M views and that’s a lot more than plenty of artists will ever receive in a year or even a lifetime. Then, it’s not really gone as it’s not very difficult to find the song, and it’s probably all over TikTok.
This brings a lot of new questions. Even though everyone knew it was AI generated, even though people have criticized the bad production and the lyrics, it is impressive because it really sounds like a Weeknd-Drake collaboration. There’s also this AI-generated Jay-Z song, this other AI Nirvana song called “Drowned in the Sun,” both sounding 100% credible. Sure, it would not be their best song by far, but this is just the beginning of AI.
“i was a ghostwriter for years and got paid close to nothing just for major labels to profit. the future is here,” wrote Ghostwriter977, the artist who posted the Drake/Weeknd song, in a TikTok comment. This didn’t make UMG happy and the world’s leading music company asked streaming platforms to ban AI after releasing this statement:
“UMG’s success has been, in part, due to embracing new technology and putting it to work for our artists–as we have been doing with our own innovation around AI for some time already. With that said, however, the training of generative AI using our artists’ music (which represents both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law) as well as the availability of infringing content created with generative AI on DSPs, begs the question as to which side of history all stakeholders in the music ecosystem want to be on: the side of artists, fans and human creative expression, or on the side of deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation. These instances demonstrate why platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists. We’re encouraged by the engagement of our platform partners on these issues–as they recognize they need to be part of the solution.”
But is it copyright infringement when it is a new song? Using other people’s style to make something new is actually done all the time. The only problem here was the use of the artists’ names, but can anyone steal a vocal likeness? How can you tell the difference between someone’s vocals and someone else’s vocals that just sound similar? Is it possible to trademark the sound of someone’s voice? Do we need new laws? Probably.
AI is here to stay, there’s no going back and let’s just imagine what AI will be able to do in a few years. Some people predict that streaming services will be flooded with AI within a year or two. These tracks are so easy to make (for anyone with some knowledge and talent) that AI songs will probably abound soon. This could be the future of music whether you like it or not. Some people even compare UMG’s reaction to the lawsuits against Napster back in the day… and we all know what happened.
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