When anonymous songwriter and producer Ghostwriter released "Heart on My Sleeve," a song created from the IA-played sounds of Drake and The Weeknd, Universal Music Group immediately made the decision to remove it from streaming services. But one artist responded to emerging technology in a very different way. Grimes, whose latest album is Miss Anthropocene 2020, announced on Twitter on April 23 that anyone could use his AI vocal models "without penalty" and would share the rights 50/50 with the author of any hit song. This was not an idle suggestion. This weekend, elf.tech launched an online platform that allows users to post Grimes-inspired songs to Spotify and other streaming services called GrimesAI-1.
In the new edition of Rolling Stone Music Now, Grimes' manager Dowd Leonard shares his point of view, detailing how artificial intelligence can change music. Find an episode here from your favorite podcast provider, head straight to Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or hit the play button above.
In essence, Leonard says, Grimes sees music as a gift to be shared, not stored. “He often says that creativity is a conversation with those who came before us and those who will come after us,” he says. The idea is that instead of trying to control everything that is a gift from the universe, "Okay, let me open up the source code." "I allow people to access what the universe has given me, and if I do, what new experiences can it produce?"
Leonard and Grimes consider sound reproduction to be something of fan fiction or fan art. "What's the difference between people who watch League of Legends and Harry Potter and Star Wars and so on between what they do with the property, like where do they make all this great fan art and do they benefit from that great fan art? It's a great relationship between the consumer, the fan, and the creators of that intellectual property. And then we jumped into that. That's what we're concerned about."
Despite this enthusiasm, Leonard admits that Universal's decision to remove the Drake/the Weeknd red herring was a push, and he agrees with those who have described the record as disappointing for black artists and music in general. "I agree with the removal because I felt there was a lack of consent," she says. "This is the worst human behavior that haunts us."
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