Artists and fans of Grimes can legally create and have songs professionally distributed using an AI-produced version of the artist’s voice, following a partnership secured between a music distributor and Grimes’ artificial intelligence platform—marking one of the first vetted processes that allows AI-generated songs as many artists remain wary of the technology.
The pilot program allows artists to transform their own voice samples into a “GrimesAI voiceprint” that can be used in original songs, crediting GrimesAI as a main or featured artist—any songs that use the voiceprint will be subject to a 50% royalty split with Grimes if she approves the collaboration.
The software—called Elf.Tech—produces music using a generative AI music operating system developed by CreateSafe, which trained AI with Grimes’ voice.
On Monday, Elf.Tech partnered with digital music distribution firm TuneCore, allowing creative works that use Grimes’ AI voice to be professionally distributed with vetted royalty splits—the company provides a platform for song uploads, distributes the music to all major music streaming services and ensures the content is following guidelines.
Despite Grimes’ 50% cut of royalties, the GrimesAI voiceprint “does not claim any ownership of the sound recording or the underlying composition,” according to a statement, unless the composition is a Grimes cover song.
Some songs using Grimes’ AI voice have already been released on streaming platforms, the New York Times reported last month, weeks before the distribution partnership with TuneCore was announced.
Grimes shared her initial inclination to have her voice used in AI-generated songs two months ago, in a thread of tweets in which the artist said she would split half of the royalties on a “successful” AI-generated song using her voice. She encouraged fans to use her voice “without penalty” and added that she liked the idea of “open sourcing all art and killing copyright.” The tweet was written in response to an article on the legal discourse around a viral, AI-generated song that featured the imitated voices of Drake and The Weeknd. The song, “Heart on My Sleeve,” was created by a TikTok user and published on social media and streaming platforms. The song racked up millions of views before being pulled from streaming platforms under a copyright claim from Universal Music Group. As artificial intelligence becomes more popular, it has drawn critics who warn AI platforms could trick people with fake information or otherwise harm society: One of the highest-profile skeptics is billionaire Elon Musk, who dated Grimes for several years and had two children with the artist.
Music artists such as Sting have denounced the production of AI songs that use famous artists’ vocals. The rock legend said in an interview with BBC News that the rise of AI in music would require musicians to defend their “human capital against AI.”
What To Watch For
It remains to be seen how the “pilot program” will develop further, but Grimes has expressed interest in “being a Guinea pig” within the developing space of AI-generated music.
Music Industry Moves: Grimes’ Elf.Tech Partners With TuneCore and CreateSafe to Distribute AI Collaborations (Variety)
Drake and The Weeknd AI song pulled from Spotify and Apple (BBC)
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