AI Sings a New Song - Part I - Praxis
AI Sings a New Song – Part I

AI Sings a New Song – Part I

Generative AI algorithms are now capable of not only creating original songs, but also manipulating existing audio in unprecedented ways.However, this raises crucial questions about authorship, copyright, and the future of human artistry


In a groundbreaking move sometime back, legendary musician Sir Paul McCartney had announced that he has leveraged artificial intelligence to “extricate” the voice of his former Beatles bandmate, John Lennon, from an old demo, creating what he called “the final Beatles record.” This development signifies a remarkable shift in the world of music, as generative AI algorithms are now capable of not only creating original songs, but also manipulating existing audio in unprecedented ways.

AI and associated technologies have democratised music creation, enabling new opportunities. The rise of AI-generated ambient music, royalty-free music generation, and automated audio mixing has led to the development of flourishing industries. Streaming services, too, are engaging AI algorithms to provide personalised music recommendations and in-depth song analysis for their users. The allure of AI is the ease with which it can analyse extensive data, identify patterns, and predict trends. This enables music producers and marketers to create content that resonates with their audience. AI-based music tools encourage artists to experiment with ideas, automate certain recording processes, and concentrate on the creative aspects of their craft rather than remain preoccupied with the technical complexities.

The advancements in deep learning and machine learning have enabled computer science to participate actively in the music-making process. Platforms like Authentic Artists, Bandlab, and Boomy now allow anyone to generate AI-composed music at the click of a button, similar to what the revolutionary language model ChatGPT does with textual content. Tencent Music’s streaming service reportedly hosts over 1,000 songs featuring AI-generated vocals, collectively amassing millions of plays.

Beyond simply creating new music, AI is also being used to augment the creative process of human artists. Composers like Francois Pachet and experimental pop duo The Cotton Modules have integrated AI-powered tools like OpenAI’s Jukebox into their work, blending machine-generated elements with their own compositions to push the boundaries of music creation.

Even as early as 2023, when generative AI was still a novelty, – a reputed specialised online magazine that focuses on the creative audio industry and new-age audio technology, and with a readership spanning more than 500,000 music producers, sound designers, audio engineers, DJs, beatmakers, and singer/songwriters – ran a survey on the industry-perception of AI technology. When asked how useful they felt AI would be as a music composer, only 19% rubbished it as being not useful at all. But that also means that four-fifths of the respondents thought AI could make significant contributions to their work.

The impact of AI on the music industry extends beyond the production phase. Recommendation algorithms on platforms like Spotify are now adept at adapting to individual listeners’ preferences, curating personalised playlists and suggesting new music that aligns with their tastes. AI-powered tools like Shazam and Musixmatch are also enhancing the music listening experience, enabling instant identification of songs and on-the-fly lyrics display.

However, the rise of AI-powered music creation raises crucial questions about authorship, copyright, and the future of human artistry. As the intersection of AI and music continues to evolve, it is clear that these technologies will play an increasingly vital role in the creative process and the way we experience and engage with music. The developments have also raised certain unique regulatory challenges and several ethical and legal questions are coming to the forefront. The determination of copyright ownership for AI-generated music and the definition of its status as original or derivative content are burning issues. Can a machine or algorithm be recognised as the copyright holder for a piece of music? And how should the rights of human creators be protected when their work is used to train these AI systems?

The Human Artistry Campaign, a coalition of industry stakeholders, has called for governments to ensure that AI developers do not exploit human creators without permission or compensation. The US Copyright Office’s recent guidance, which states that a work generated solely through a user prompt is not copyrightable, also suggests a potential limitation on the commercial viability of music created entirely by AI. The current lack of clear regulations that can cope up with the rapidly evolving AI innovation landscape underscores the pressing need for new regulatory frameworks.

We shall touch upon these aspects in Part 2.

[To be concluded]




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