Presence and music: ‘New’ music from The Beatles and others via AI

[Much of the coverage of the increasingly widespread use of artificial intelligence to generate music is about the complex legal and ethical issues involved (e.g., see Holland & Knight and Rolling Stone). But as the story below from Interesting Engineering notes, the fact that this music is generated by AI is “often not discernible to a follower or a fan,” which represents an important form of presence (a misperception of the role of technology in a mediated experience). An earlier story from Interesting Engineering titled “Scammer sells AI-generated Frank Ocean’s songs, makes thousands of dollars,” begins with this:

“We’ve definitely opened Pandora’s box when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI). What we’re witnessing in AI is the biggest shift in technology since the internet itself. For the musically inclined, this means we now live in a world where it’s hard to differentiate between a real artist’s voice and an AI-generated one, which is exactly what happened recently to Frank Ocean’s fans.

A scammer, who goes by the handle ‘mourningassasin’ on Discord, posted a collection of AI-generated Frank Ocean songs and put them on sale. That lured Ocean’s fans and the underground community of music collectors like Icarus to the Sun. Mourningassasin was successful in his scam and ended up making $13,000 (CAD) from selling the fake music.”

Music made or altered by AI isn’t brand new, but the latest developments are bringing us closer to a future in which we can’t be certain about who and/or what created any of our mediated experiences. If you haven’t heard them yet, take a listen to some of the examples ‘by’ The Beatles, the best-selling artist of all time. –Matthew]

[Image: Credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Resurrecting The Beatles: AI is here, there, and everywhere

A number of AI tracks made to sound like they were sung by The Beatles are exploding on YouTube.

By Sejal Sharma
May 22, 2023

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now being used to recreate and reimagine songs sung by The Beatles, which to this day remains the most famous band in the world.

This is great news for the fans who haven’t heard a new song from the band even since it was disbanded in 1970, even though the artists continued releasing singles thereafter.

A creator going by the name ‘Dae Lims’ on YouTube released several songs which were artificially created using the voices and works of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr. But it now seems some of those videos have been taken down by YouTube after Universal Music Group (UMG) intervened, citing a copyright claim.

The song taken down was Paul McCartney’s ‘New,’ which was released in 2013 and was the title track of his new album. The song, with the help of AI, was reimagined as if the whole band was performing it. Another song by John Lennon ‘Grow Old With Me’ was released by Dae Lims, which, again with the help of AI, has the vocals of McCartney as well.

A YouTube user, after hearing the song, commented, “Tears flowed when McCartney’s part came in … Dae, you made an old man cry … you are a genius.”

In 1968, The Beatles recorded fragments of a song they had named “Watching Rainbows,” but it was never released full-fledged. But a YouTube user, who goes by the name of John Winston Lennon, released an AI version of the song, and people are going gaga over it in the comments section.

An ardent fan of The Beatles, reporter Andy Meek wrote in BGR, “A song that we can now enjoy in a fully polished and finalized form, imagining how it might have sounded on a modern Beatles album while also never forgetting the group’s reminder that all you need is love (plus, as we now know, the power of AI).”

A delight for fans but a menace to the music industry

YouTube, Spotify, and other music streaming services are filled with AI concoctions. Developers are feeding large amounts of data to AI algorithms which, after studying the styles of various artists, the chords, and an artist’s tracks, are creating similar-sounding music, often not discernible to a follower or a fan.

Interesting Engineering reported last month that Spotify had to take down an AI-generated song by Drake and The Weeknd called “Heart On My Sleeve.” UMG, which represents both artists, told Billboard that the viral posting of the song “demonstrate why platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists.”

Furthermore, UMG also sent a warning email to online streaming services, advising them not to let AI companies access copyrighted music “without obtaining the required consents” to train their machines.

Shortly afterward, Spotify had to pull down tens and thousands of AI-generated songs from its platform after the streaming service got wind of ‘artificial streaming’ by the uploaders.

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