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Grimes has welcomed musicians creating new songs with her voice using Artificial Intelligence, saying she would split 50% of the royalties on any successful AI-generated track that included her voice.
The Canadian singer, whose real name is Claire Boucher, tweeted that it was “the same deal I would do with any artist I’ve collaborated with[orate] with. You may use my voice with impunity,” she tweeted.
She said she was interested in being a “guinea pig” and thought “it’s great to be fused with a machine and I like the idea of open sourcing all art and killing copyright”.
The music industry is entering not-so-great territory as it tries to keep up with the implications of a set of songs created by training AI to generate artists’ voices.
Last week, Universal Music successfully petitioned TikTok, YouTube and Spotify to remove a track called Heart On My Sleeve, which used AI-generated voices from their artists Drake and the Weeknd.
It was one of several tracks released recently that featured AI-generated vocals based on Drake, who don’t seem as enthusiastic as Grimes. The rapper recently wrote: “This is the final AI straw,” on an Instagram story, referring to a version of the song Munch Ice Spice that he released with a fake verse.
Related: It won’t be long before we can tell the difference between AI and human music – so can pop music survive?
In a statement, the label said that training AI generation using the music of our artists was a “breach of copyright law”. However, Universal’s position has not been tested in court, and it remains a legal gray area whether human-created art, but with AI elements, can be copied.
In October, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) warned that AI companies were infringing copyrights en masse by using music to train their machines.
However, last month the US Copyright Office ruled that AI-generated art, including music, cannot be copyrighted because it is not a “product of human authorship”.
On Twitter, Grimes wrote that she is working on software that “my voice should attack well”, but that she would also consider releasing voice tracks for people to use to train AI.
When asked what she would do if people used her voice to create racist or violent content, she wrote that she “could ONLY take down copyright for already existing toxic lyrics” or songs that was “anti-abortion or [something] so”.
“That’s the only rule… [I] you don’t want to be responsible for a Nazi song unless it’s a jest in some way, a la Producers I guess,” she said.
Grimes, who has two children with SpaceX founder and Twitter CEO Elon Musk, has explored the quandaries of AI in tracks such as Flesh Without Blood. In 2020, she collaborated with music company Endel to create an AI lullaby for her son X Æ A-12.
“I think AI is great,” she told the New York Times. “Creatively, I think AI can replace humans. And so I think at some point, we’re going to want to, as a species, discuss the role of AI in art.”