UPDATED 21:43 EDT / APRIL 02 2024


Top musicians ask for protection against AI, calling it ‘an assault on human creativity’

Some of the biggest names in the music business published a signed open letter today decrying the “predatory” use of artificial intelligence in music, which they say must be stopped before it gets out of hand.

More than 200 artists and artist estates put their names to the letter, which was published through the Artist Rights Alliance advocacy group. The list includes Hall of Famers, with the collective crossing numerous musical genres. Some of the people and bands featured are Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Billie Eilish, Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, REM, Pearl Jam, the estate of Bob Marley, and the estate of Frank Sinatra.

The group accepts that AI has “enormous potential” to enhance human creativity, including in the music industry, but they also believe that certain platforms have used AI to “sabotage creativity” and undermine their own creations.

They are likely addressing a number of issues, such as Google LLC-owned YouTube last year releasing a tool powered by generative artificial intelligence that can give regular folks the ability to create music based on the styles of famous artists. There have been a slew of other controversies over copyright infringement that have led to lawsuits and a growing fear that artists’ work is being stolen.

“When used irresponsibly, AI poses enormous threats to our ability to protect our privacy, our identities, our music, and our livelihoods,” said the letter. “Some of the biggest and most powerful companies are, without permission, using our work to train AI models.”

The musicians said they believe that these companies will eventually try to replace “the work of human artists” with tools that have been trained on their and other musicians’ work, thereby diluting the royalty pools. They wrote that for working artists trying to make a living, this would be “catastrophic.” They called current developments in AI a “race to the bottom” that will degrade music.

The problem is that generative AI is, by nature, predatory. It couldn’t function without work on which to train itself, which is why the state of Tennessee recently passed a bill to protect music industry professionals from AI companies predating their creations.

“Artists have intellectual property,” said Governor Bill Lee. “They have gifts. They have a uniqueness that is theirs and theirs alone, certainly not artificial intelligence.” The bill, called the Ensuring Likeness, Voice, and Image Security Act, or “Elvis Act,” will very likely become one of many similar bills introduced in the future.

When it comes to replicating lyrics, there’s nothing at the moment to stop tools such as ChatGPT from writing them in the style of various musicians or writers of any kind. The renowned Australian singer-songwriter Nick Cave, in response to a fan posting ChatGTP’s version of his own lyrics, called the creation “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human.”

Cave’s name is not on the letter published today and it doesn’t look as though he has filed any copyright lawsuits against AI, but his philosophical sentiments regarding AI replication of art have accrued much support. Universal Music Group Chief Executive Lucian Grainge took a very different tack, recently stating that AI companies and musicians must learn to “build a mutually successful future together.”

Photo: israel palacio/Unsplash

A message from John Furrier, co-founder of SiliconANGLE:

Your vote of support is important to us and it helps us keep the content FREE.

One click below supports our mission to provide free, deep, and relevant content.  

Join our community on YouTube

Join the community that includes more than 15,000 #CubeAlumni experts, including Amazon.com CEO Andy Jassy, Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, and many more luminaries and experts.

“TheCUBE is an important partner to the industry. You guys really are a part of our events and we really appreciate you coming and I know people appreciate the content you create as well” – Andy Jassy