Imagine there’s no singers! Music bosses panic over new AI generated John Lennon song released 40 years after the Beatles’ star’s death
- Sir Paul McCartney recently promised to create ‘the final Beatles record’
- AI technology had been used to ‘extricate’ Lennon’s voice from a 1978 demo
Sir Paul McCartney recently promised to create ‘the final Beatles record’, complete with vocals by John Lennon.
Now it seems as if he might have been beaten to it by a complete unknown – and the result is causing enormous panic across the music industry.
Sir Paul explained how artificial-intelligence technology had been used to ‘extricate’ Lennon’s voice from a 1978 demo so that he could complete the song, which will be released later this year.
But he also emphasised that ‘nothing has been artificially or synthetically created’, with AI simply cleaning up what was already there.
However, the same certainly doesn’t apply to a computer-generated video that emerged recently showing Lennon, more than 40 years after his death, singing an entirely new song.
Sir Paul McCartney recently promised to create ‘the final Beatles record’, complete with vocals by John Lennon
Sir Paul explained how artificial-intelligence technology had been used to ‘extricate’ Lennon’s voice from a 1978 demo so that he could complete the song, which will be released later this year
It’s been more than 50 years since all four members of The Beatles released music, with their emotional classic ‘The End’. Pictured left to right: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison
Images of him performing a track called Everybody But You have been shared on social media platforms, winning positive reviews from listeners.
Some are even praising it as good enough to have been released by the Fab Four themselves.
Everybody But You was written earlier this year by an artist using the pseudonym Kid Klava who confirmed that, rather that singing it himself, he had used AI to create a performance from the Beatles star without permission from his estate.
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Neil Tennant, performing here in Milan in May 2022, says AI could be a tool for songwriters to create music
He boasted on TikTok: ‘I realised I can get John to sing it for me! And why not get Paul on backing vocals while I’m at it?’
Meanwhile, another post features images of soul legend Stevie Wonder performing one of Kid Klava’s songs.
The use of famous recording artists to perform songs written by modern-day unknowns has sparked widespread alarm at the top of the music industry, prompting fears over copyright and about dead singers being used to make money for people unconnected to them.
Label bosses even fear that they could lose control of the output of some of their biggest acts. One executive said: ‘The use of some of the greatest ever artists to artificially perform and promote songs is a nightmare for us.
‘It threatens to undermine everything that the music industry was set up to do.
‘But also you have to spare a thought for the surviving family members of people such as John Lennon, because his legend status is being used to make money for others. It seems entirely wrong and open to huge abuse.’
Universal, the world’s biggest record label, has argued for copyright to be applied to the data used for machine-learning, such as the vocal stems that train computers to make voice clones.
Sting, too, has criticised the use of AI to write new songs and music. Earlier this year the ex-Police frontman said that ‘the building blocks of music belong to us, to human beings’.
Artificial intelligence also lies behind the current strikes in Hollywood.
Both actors and writers are refusing to work as a protest against the possibility of film and television studios employing AI technology to replace them.
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