Wed. Sep 27th, 2023

Individual news pieces about AI music are coming thick and fast, generating a larger picture of how quickly the technology (and the business models and issues surrounding it) is advancing. Four stories published today provide the most recent view of how the sands are moving. In a nutshell, artists are experimenting with generative AI; artists are being experimented on with it; investors are pouring money into the field; and authorities are rushing to stay up with advancements. First, singer Grimes’ goal to make her voice available to AI-assisted artists and developers goes beyond tweets. She’s created her ElfTech website, where individuals can sign up, upload their vocals, and receive a ‘GrimesAI-1 Voiceprint’ to use in their tracks. Her voice stems have also been made available for individuals to train their own models with.

As she hinted in her tweets, Grimes is seeking 50% of sound-recording royalties from any commercially released tunes, with the option of handling distribution through ElfTech for $9.99 per year. “Grimes is now open source and self replicating,” she said on Twitter. “Please excuse any hiccups or bugs – this is brand new and we’re still working on it!” Elsewhere in AI music, Drake can take a break from the cloning controversy for the time being: it’s time for The Beatles to enjoy their latest moment. Listen to this YouTube video, which has a recording of Paul McCartney’s 2013 hit ‘New’ with backing vocals from an AI John Lennon.

They’ve also done the opposite with John Lennon’s posthumously released “Grow Old With Me.” “We adore you, boys. No infringement of intellectual property rights is intended. “This is an AI creation,” the ‘New’ video listing states. We’ll see what rightsholders think of the phrase ‘no copyright infringement intended’ in the coming days, but given the present industry atmosphere, takedown letters appear imminent. (To extend on a point we made last week, there is an ethical/moral dilemma here beyond the legal position of such recordings. If someone is going to employ artificial intelligence to put Lennon and McCartney back together, shouldn’t it be McCartney and Lennon’s estate? Obtaining approval would be more proof that you actually care about the lads… However, these tracks are a hint of what could be accomplished by musicians that desire to explore ‘what if’ scenarios with late bandmates with all the clearances.)

Away from hobbyist efforts, financing for commercial generative-AI businesses is increasing. Sound Ventures, the newest fund to invest in them, was co-founded by experienced music manager Guy Oseary. It just closed a new $240 million Sound Ventures AI Fund. “We anticipate that AI will play a significant role in everything we do, including entertainment, which we know well,” said Oseary in a statement. Sound Ventures already has investments in two of the most important generative AI companies: OpenAI and Stability AI. (In terms of OpenAI, it has just received its next round of funding: $300 million, valuing the business at $27-$29 billion.) Finally, there is the possibility of new generative AI regulation in the European Union, with recommendations that music rightsholders are likely to find appealing. For the past two years, the European Commission has been working on the AI Act, which covers a wide range of AI applications.

It now includes a copyright provision, which might oblige generative-AI businesses to “disclose any copyrighted material used to develop their systems,” according to Reuters. According to the BBC, this was a compromise reached when some politicians attempted to include a complete ban on the use of copyrighted content to train AI models. Separately, Reuters provides some context for how the new clause was “hammered out” in just 11 days by a “small group of politicians” attempting to keep up with recent advances in generative AI. With its Human Artistry Campaign, the music industry has argued that “the use of copyrighted works requires permission from the copyright owner.” For the use of works in the construction and training of AI models, AI must be subject to free-market licensing.” In theory, rightsholders should embrace the new European laws. They’ll have some queries in practice. Will this legislation, if rushed, be subjected to thorough review to iron out any flaws before it becomes law? How will the disclosure rules be enforced? Will European action inspire comparable legislation elsewhere in the world, or will it create safe havens for training where the restrictions are far laxer?

Leave a Reply