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  • Writer's pictureEric Senich

AI Music Creators Beware: The Legal Sharks Are Circling

Let's face it, AI music is here to stay, and it isn't going anywhere. But neither are lawyers.

If you're a music fan, odds are you know at least a little bit about Artificial Intelligence. AI software can do all kinds of things. It can write articles, create art, and even create brand-new music by classic rock artists. Some of them aren't even alive. AI music works by taking inputs such as a desired emotion or certain musical elements and using these to create unique melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and even entire songs. Brand new songs by artificial versions of artists like the Beatles, AC/DC, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, and Queen have been popping up on YouTube over the last few years.

Below is an all-new Nirvana song created a few years ago by AI technology. It's titled "Smother":

Metallica's "Deliverance Rides":

How about AC/DC's "Great Balls"?

Not great, but not bad, right? And people seem to like 'em. That AC/DC video has pulled down a million viewers. What if those numbers from YouTube creators increase? As the years go on, the technology will only continue to improve, and the numbers of views and listens will only get bigger. So big that those who upload these songs could eventually become like that poor little Alex Kintner boy in Jaws.

Remember when Napster first emerged in 1999? An entire album that cost around $20 was now absolutely free. As the software popularity grew, the company faced legal difficulties over copyright infringement. In 2000, Metallica would file one of the most infamous lawsuits in the history of music, taking on Napster for what drummer Lars Ulrich claimed was copyright infringement, following the widespread sharing of a demo version of the band's 2000 track "I Disappear" on Napster's platform. Napster ceased operations in 2001 after losing a wave of lawsuits and filed for bankruptcy in June 2002.

So Napster went down, but the music industry still had a problem. The "We're gonna need a bigger boat" kinda problem. Over the next two decades, record labels had to figure out how to stop the bleeding. The days of multi-platinum-selling albums would end, and eventually, they would have to settle for whatever they could get through streaming services. In 2023, artists get paid between $0.003 and $0.0084 per song stream.

What does this all mean for the future of AI music? Well, the upside is that it will have one. You can't stop something like this once it gets out. But always remember that sharks can smell blood from far away. To quote the great Quint: "If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter."

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