The sudden awareness of the scary implications of Artificial Intelligence in the various fields of application is sending its ripples throughout society, leaving us with a host of new questions for which we have no pre-prepared answers.
To begin with, there are the fundamental questions of whether or not AI will kill us all. A couple of years ago that would’ve been a laughable notion, but now we are painfully aware that’s for real.
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In the realm of the arts, there are also fundamental questions applied to these new technological capabilities. In fact, the Hollywood strike is partially about making sure AI will not disrupt their industry and create mass unemployment.
Now the music business is starting to react to this new day, although it’s all in early stages as of now.
The Guardian reported:
“Google and Universal Music are negotiating a deal on how to license the voices and melodies of artists for artificial intelligence-generated songs.
The talks are expected to include the potential development of a tool for fans where individuals could make AI-generated songs but the relevant copyright owners would be paid. The artists would have a choice to opt in to the process.”
This comes after a popular recent trend of fan-generated music using deep-fake apps to imitate artists’ voices and cadence to create new tracks.
Speaking as a musician, the absolute majority of theses fan tracks that I found so far online are very bad, and the artist voice mimicked is poorly modeled. But I also found this version of Frank Sinatra singing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ that I found interesting:
“The negotiations between Google and Universal have come as the music industry has been grappling with AI, with the development of new technologies mimicking artists’ voices seen as a growing threat.
Record labels have voiced concerns around intellectual property and the protections of rights holders.”
The idea is to build a tool allowing fans and creators to make tracks using recognizable vocals and melodies legitimately by paying the copyright owners, with artists able to opt out.
Of course, the AI implications go beyond the legal worries about copyright – there are also aesthetic considerations. It comes as the music has become bastardized at a high level. Between the multiple samplers, sequencers and synthesizers, and the ton of autotuner/melodyne added to the vocals, sometimes there’s not much humanity in the music anymore.
Of course, there will always be great musicians that can appropriate any technology to make a sound.