Universal Music Group (UMG), the music company representing renowned artists such as Sting, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj, and Ariana Grande, is confronting a new challenger: artificial intelligence (AI). The company is calling for streaming platforms to ban AI-generated music, claiming it violates copyright laws and the rights of artists.
The music group sent urgent letters to streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music, in April, requesting that they prohibit AI platforms from training on the melodies and lyrics of their copyrighted songs. A UMG spokesperson stated that the company has both a “moral and commercial responsibility to our artists to work to prevent the unauthorized use of their music and to stop platforms from ingesting content that violates the rights of artists and other creators.” They added, “We expect our platform partners will want to prevent their services from being used in ways that harm artists.”
Despite UMG’s efforts, industry experts are skeptical about the effectiveness of a ban on AI-generated music, citing the lack of regulations dictating what AI can and cannot train on. AI music learns by training on existing works available on the internet or through a library of music provided by humans. The U.S. Copyright Office recently released guidance on registering AI-generated works, stating that copyright will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
UMG’s move aims to tackle what it sees as an existential threat to the music industry posed by AI technology. The company is not against AI as a whole but expresses concern about AI that is capable of recreating melodies and musicians’ voices within seconds. Such advanced AI could potentially threaten UMG’s extensive library of music and its billion-dollar revenue streams.
David Guetta, the Grammy-winning DJ and producer, demonstrated how easy it is to create new music using AI. Utilizing ChatGPT for lyrics and Uberduck for vocals, Guetta created a new song in just an hour that featured a voice resembling Eminem’s. Although he performed the song at one of his shows, Guetta stated that he would not release it commercially. He believes AI will have a significant impact on the music industry, raising questions about what it means to be an artist and the ethical dilemmas surrounding copyright.
UMG likens AI-generated music to “deep fakes, fraud, and denying artists their due compensation.” The company’s statement emphasized the legal and ethical responsibility of platforms to prevent harmful uses of their services.