We’ve already witnessed the power of artificially generated music through viral Drake tracks and even the likes of Grimes urging fans to clone her voice for their own songs. It’s safe to say record labels haven’t been too happy with fans recreating their biggest stars’ voices, pulling down as many tracks as they can, but they could now be set to use the technology themselves.
According to reports, Google and Universal Music Group are exploring the idea of licensing artist’s voices and melodies for AI-generated music. The discussions could include talks about developing a legal tool for fans to create music via AI. However, unlike in the current unregulated system, this tool will pay copyright owners their share. The conversations are at quite an early stage, so any kind of launch is yet to be determined.
Several AI-generated tracks went viral earlier this year, with one of the most famous songs mimicking the voices of Drake and The Weeknd. ‘Heart On My Sleeve’ was streamed 600,000 times on Spotify prior to its removal and was followed up by a statement from Universal Music Group.
“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,” a label spokesman said. “We’re encouraged by the engagement of our platform partners on these issues – as they recognise they need to be part of the solution.”
The label also initially called on streaming services to be more vigilant and take down AI-generated tracks. “We have a moral and commercial responsibility to our artists to work to prevent the unauthorised use of their music and to stop platforms from ingesting content that violates the rights of artists and other creators. We expect our platform partners will want to prevent their services from being used in ways that harm artists,” Universal Music said.
So, is this the beginning of the end for music as we know it? If an artist’s voice and melodies are licensable, it undoubtedly takes away from the individuality of it all. How many AI Drake tracks do we really need?