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THE SCOOP | Music Made With AI Will Be Eligible For Grammy Awards

By Anya Wassenberg on July 5, 2023

Gramophone - CC0C Pixabay

According to Recording Academy CEO and President Harvey Mason Jr, tracks created with AI will be eligible for the Grammy Awards. The announcement was made in an effort to keep up with the rapidly changing music industry landscape, and came after consultation with stakeholders, including copyright officials and others.

To be clear: music that has been created by humans partially using AI tools will be eligible for award consideration. The new rules on copyright set out earlier this year specify that “only human creators” can win the award.

“A work that contains no human authorship is not eligible in any category,” the rules continue. The wording coincides with US Copyright Office guidelines, and informs the new Grammy guidelines.

“Here’s the super easy, headline statement: AI, or music that contains AI-created elements is absolutely eligible for entry and for consideration for Grammy nomination. Period,” Recording Academy CEO and President Harvey Mason Jr. told The Associated Press. “What’s not going to happen is we are not going to give a Grammy or Grammy nomination to the AI portion.”

Here’s how that would work:

  • If the vocals on a track are performed by AI or a voice modelling program, it could be eligible for a Grammy in a songwriting category, but not in a performance category;
  • If the song is sung by a human vocalist, but the song and/or music was written by AI, it would be eligible in a performance category, but not in a composition or songwriting category.

“We don’t want to see technology replace human creativity. We want to make sure technology is enhancing, embellishing, or additive to human creativity. So that’s why we took this particular stand in this award cycle,” Mason added.

There have been several new songs that have been created with AI already on streaming and social media platforms, including a Beatles record where Paul McCartney acknowledged that AI had been used to extrapolate John Lennon’s voice from an old demo. Would the song be eligible for a Grammy nod? It’s not clear what might be, without knowing the full extent of the AI involvement.

It’s also not clear how the move will take into account the current prevailing model for AI generated content. Users at most AI-generation platforms can use their creations for most purposes, including commercial release — however the copyright is ultimately held by the company that owns the AI platform. At the same time, copyright law does not recognize pure AI (without human intervention) as an “author” with legal rights.

But, will that change in the future?

And on the business end of things…

Goldman Sachs, among other industry analysts, is bullish on the infusion of AI-generated content into the music industry. On July 4, the noted global investment and banking firm made recommendations on which stocks to buy based on that optimism.

The five stocks they’re recommending are industry giants, including:

  • Live Nation;
  • Warner Music Group;
  • Believe, a digital music company based in France;
  • NetEase, Inc., a Chinese internet service;
  • Universal Music Group.

“Generative AI will super-charge music creation capabilities and improve productivity,” according to a Goldman Sach’s analysts’ note of June 28, quoted by CNBC.

The company believes investor worries about fake AI-generated tracks are “overstated”. With hundreds of thousands of tracks released on streaming services daily, it’s difficult to keep up with every AI-generated song, however Believe and other companies are already using another AI function to find them. Publishers like Universal are also working with the streamers to find and remove tracks that are 100% generated artificially.

The preponderance of tracks by three major companies makes the task easier. “We believe the music industry is on the cusp of another major structural change given the persistent under-monetisation of music content, outdated streaming royalty payout structures and the deployment of Generative AI,” the analysts note in their paper.

Let’s hope that compensating artists more fairly for their work is also part of the agenda.


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