Universal Music Group tells streaming services to block AI-generated music

Content generated by artificial intelligence (AI) has been on the rise following the release of OpenAI’s latest version of their AI chatbot, ChatGPT-4, and others like it. However, not everyone has been in favor of some of its capabilities when left unchecked.

A report from the Financial Times on April 13 revealed Universal Music Group (UMG) as the latest to voice its concerns over the emerging technology. The music industry giant told streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music, to block AI services from being able to harvest melodies and lyrics from copyrighted songs.

According to a person close to the issue, UMG has been sending out requests to take down AI-generated songs “left and right,” after they’ve been popping up on streaming services with increased frequency.

One Twitter user posted an example of an AI-generated song that features an AI-version of the famous rapper Jay-Z, which is almost indistinguishable from the real Jay Z. The user said as a fan of Jay-Z he “enjoyed” the track but doesn’t know if he should feel “good or ashamed” for liking AI-music. 

Until now AI bots have had access to music catalogs on streaming platforms, which developers have used to train the technology. According to the report, UMG has become “increasingly concerned” about AI bots using intellectual property to produce music identical to actual artists.

A source close to the situation said that this next generation of technology that is currently emerging poses “significant issues.” 

They continued saying that AI could be asked to compose a song that lyrically resembles Taylor Swift but with vocals and themes of other popular artists like Bruno Mars and Harry Styles.

“The output you get is due to the fact the AI has been trained on those artists’ intellectual property.”

UMG is taking an artist-first stance, as it wrote in emails to the streaming services, “We will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists.”

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The same Twitter user also tweeted a clip of an AI model of Kanye West singing along to the tracks of rapper Drake’s song “Hold On.” Examples like this touch on the exact fears UMG is currently raising to streaming services.

Along with AI-generated music floating around on Twitter and popular streaming platforms, entire YouTube pages are popping up remaking well-known music via AI technology. 

This is only the beginning and the surface of what could be in store for the music industry in its fight against AI technology taking advantage of intellectual property rights. Google recently announced its own machine-learning music apparatus called MusicLM, which will be able to generate “high-fidelity music from text descriptions.”

The application has yet to be released, however Google has released an entire page on GitHub of sample music generated with insights (keywords) as to how it was generated. 

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