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News Report

Leading Music Company Threatened by AI Calls for Technology to Be Blocked

2 mins
Updated by Geraint Price

In Brief

  • One of the largest music company UMG, is preparing for a war against AI
  • It has requested streaming giants like Spotify and Apple to take down AI-generated songs built from their copyrighted music.
  • The community believes that UMG cannot stop AI.
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Universal Music Group (UMG) has asked streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple to block music generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

UMG, a company that controls one-third of the global music market, has set its sights on AI-generated music. According to the Financial Times, it has asked streaming giants like Spotify and Apple to take down AI-generated songs built from their copyrighted music.

It has also asked streaming service providers to block their music’s access to developers using it to train AI models. AI developers can use existing music to train their models to create new songs that sound like popular artists.

UMG wrote in an email to streaming companies, “We will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists.” 

AI Takes Over Music Industry

The rising popularity of AI has always been a concern for some, as the technology can generate unique texts, images, and now even music.

For example, a YouTube channel, 20syl, has uploaded a video called “AllttA – Savages,” where the artists rap alongside the American rapper Jay-Z. Interestingly, Jay-Z did not collaborate with the channel, rather his voice was AI-generated.

The tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) says, “That sounded a lot like Jay-Z to the point where even knowing that I’m listening to AI-generated content, I can still hear it and sort of enjoy it.”

But Can UMG Stop AI?

A person close to the matter told the FT that this next-generation technology poses significant issues. He says, “Much of [generative AI] is trained on popular music. You could say: compose a song that has the lyrics to be like Taylor Swift, but the vocals to be in the style of Bruno Mars, but I want the theme to be more Harry Styles. The output you get is due to the fact the AI has been trained on those artists’ intellectual property.”

UMG’s argument about the breach of the artist’s intellectual property might carry weight, but the community believes it cannot stop AI. A Twitter user writes, “This is ineffective. There are thousands of websites that provide music for free or either humans itself can manually upload files. No way universal is stopping AI from accessing it.”

Developers are not just using songs from streaming platforms to train their models. The AI and automation expert Pascal Bornet tweeted a video of an orchestra whose live music “is used as real-time data to feed a generative AI model.”

Industry Welcomes NFTs

Despite their negative stance against AI, the industry has embraced non-fungible token (NFT) technology. Last year, UMG created music for Kingship, a virtual band based on the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection.

Another leading music company, Warner Music Group, collaborated with Polygon to create a Web3 music platform.

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