UK singer and actor Sting says musicians face “a battle” to defend their work against the rise of songs written by artificial intelligence.
“The building blocks of music belong to us, to human beings,” he said in an interview.
“That’s going to be a battle we all have to fight in the next couple of years: Defending our human capital against AI.”
His comments come after a number of songs have used artificial intelligence to “clone” famous artists’ vocals.
In February, DJ David Guetta used the technology to add Eminem’s “voice” for one of his tracks while a faked duet between Drake and The Weeknd went viral in April.
The latter was pulled from streaming services after a copyright complaint from Universal Music Group (UMG), which is also the label that releases Sting’s music.
“It’s similar to the way I watch a movie with CGI. It doesn’t impress me at all,” Sting said.
“I get immediately bored when I see a computer-generated image. I imagine I will feel the same way about AI making music.
“Maybe for electronic dance music, it works. But for songs, you know, expressing emotions, I don’t think I will be moved by it.”
The recording industry has quickly mobilised against artificial intelligence, launching a group called the “Human Artistry Campaign”, and warning that AI companies are violating copyright by training their software on commercially-released music.
Whether AI-written music can be copyrighted is still under debate. Under English copyright law, for example, works generated by AI, can theoretically be protected.
However, the US Copyright Office recently ruled that AI art, including music, can’t be copyrighted as it is “not the product of human authorship”.
Not everyone is against the technology. Pet Shop Boys frontman Neil Tennant recently suggested AI could help musicians overcome writers’ block.
“There’s a song that we wrote a chorus for in 2003 and we never finished because I couldn’t think of anything for the verses,” he told the Radio Times.
“But now with AI you could give it the bits you’ve written, press the button and have it fill in the blanks. You might then rewrite it, but it could nonetheless be a tool.”
Sting agreed with Tennant’s observation…. to a point. “The tools are useful, but we have to be driving them,” he said. “I don’t think we can allow the machines to just take over. We