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The world of music has been abuzz with the recent controversy surrounding the eligibility of “Heart On My Sleeve,” an Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated track featuring vocals of Drake and The Weeknd, for the upcoming Grammy Awards.
The Track: A Remarkable Feat of AI
The song, which surfaced on YouTube in April, later migrated to streaming platforms, amassing over 630,000 streams on Spotify before being taken down by Universal Music Group. It caused a stir due to its accurate replication of the artists’ vocals and lyricism, despite them not having any direct involvement in its composition.
Grammy Eligibility: A New Precedent
This week, the track was deemed eligible for Grammy consideration by Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr., who stated that “it’s absolutely eligible because it was written by a human.” This statement has sparked discussion among industry professionals, as it opens the door for AI-generated music to be considered for prestigious awards.
The Controversy: Universal’s Stand Against AI Music
While the tech world celebrates this as a victory for AI, Universal Music Group has taken a stand against the use of AI-generated music. In a statement released in April, they called AI music a “fraud,” and requested its ban from streaming platforms.
Universal Music Group calls AI music a “fraud,” and wants it banned from streaming platforms. Experts say it’s not that easy. https://t.co/g8CHWp3eH0 pic.twitter.com/DESVr3755Y
— CNN International (@cnni) April 19, 2023
The Dilemma: Embrace AI or Protect Artists?
Universal has always embraced new technology for the benefit of its artists, including having their own innovation around AI. However, they took issue with the use of their artists’ music to create AI-generated tracks, labeling it as a violation of their agreements and copyright law.
The Choice: Artists and Fans or Deep Fakes and Fraud?
Universal’s statement presents music industry stakeholders with a critical choice: to side with artists, fans, and human creative expression, or to support deep fakes and fraud, denying artists their due compensation.
The Responsibility: Platforms Must Act
Universal believes that platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists. They are encouraged by the engagement of their platform partners on these issues, as they recognize the need to be part of the solution.
The Future: Uncertain Times Ahead
This controversy has ignited a debate that could redefine the music industry. As AI continues to advance and blur the lines between human and machine creativity, industry stakeholders will have to grapple with complex ethical and legal issues. It remains to be seen how this will play out, but one thing is certain: the music industry is in for a shakeup.
Conclusion: A Call to Action
The debate surrounding AI music and its eligibility for awards like the Grammy is more than just a legal issue. It’s a call to action for the music industry to define its stance on AI and to create norms that protect artists while also embracing innovation. As the saga of “Heart On My Sleeve” continues, it will undoubtedly shape the future of music.