We’ve all seen your favourite US presidents perform covers on TikTok through the use of AI. But can this technology be used to create new and original pieces of media? AI may trigger a transformative shift in the way we make music, and indeed it already has had an impact. The final ever song by The Beatles was brought to life, only made possible by AI. In 1995, The 3 remaining members of The Beatles tried to record ‘Now and Then’ after Yoko Ono passed them a few demo tapes. Lennon’s vocals could not be isolated from the piano and eventually, the project collapsed. That is until AI made it possible to separate Lennon’s vocals from the piano in the demo tape, birthing the last Beatles song. Presumably, this would be something to celebrate; technology has enabled us to hear a new Beatles song. However, there was a considerable amount of backlash sparking debate about the use of AI in songs. This is not me saying that criticism of AI in songs is unwarranted but, the AI used in ‘Now and Then’ was not a substantial change to the song. AI did not write any new material for the song; it purely allowed for the song to happen. 

Such an instinctive reaction to the insignificant use of AI in this song highlights the hostility towards AI art. Perhaps music nowadays is so integral to our identity and AI threatens that. Music is no longer a uniquely human creation, which could explain the hostility towards AI music. Yet, we will happily enjoy and laugh along to AI covers or an image generated by AI. So where do we cross the line? AI covers may be so overtly novel that we understand it is not trying to be art; its main objective is a quick laugh. But there is a murky grey area between novelty and art, with the distinction being hard to understand.

Another question is, how do artists fit into this? Should they be compensated for, what is really, copyright infringement? Artists like Grimes have happily supported AI to be used in their music with royalties splitting 50/50. Yet major record labels are concerned with the market share of their artists, with AI enabling more independently made songs due to the easily accessible AI technology.One area of music that AI can never replicate is the beauty of live music. Now, I must admit that this is heavily influenced by an incredible band by the name of The Last Dinner Party. After going to see them, you realise the ability to capture a room and stun people with your performance is something that AI can never do. Yet, no one can ever predict what AI can do and will be able to produce in the future. You never know, we may all end up like the end of WALL-E, wearing jumpsuits, floating in chairs whilst watching The Last Dinner Party through a virtual headset. But at this moment, it is impossible to imagine a world in which AI is able to recreate live music. There is something so magical about being in a sweaty room with a bunch of strangers, watching your favourite band and having a sing-along.

Categories: Arts Music

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