Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify, has spoken out about the use of artificial intelligence in creating music. His statement comes in response to concerns after Spotify removed a song earlier this year. This song featured AI-cloned voices of artists Drake and The Weeknd.
Ek commented, “There are valid uses of the technology in making music.” He stressed that AI shouldn’t impersonate human artists without permission. He added, “The debate about AI in music will continue for many years.”
AI in Music: The Grey Areas
Ek identified three main ways AI is used in music:
Tools like auto-tune that enhance music.
Tools that copy artists, which he doesn’t approve of.
The trickier area where AI music is influenced by existing artists but doesn’t directly copy them.
“You can imagine someone uploading a song, claiming to be Madonna, even if they’re not. We’ve seen a lot in Spotify’s history with people trying to trick our system,” Ek stated. He reassured that Spotify has a significant team addressing these concerns.
Artists Raise Their Voices
Artists are voicing how they feel about AI in their field. Irish musician Hozier expressed doubts about AI’s role in art and even considered protesting against its increasing use in music.
Drake and The Weeknd, on the other hand, didn’t know about the AI versions of their voices in the song “Heart on My Sleeve”. The song, created by Ghostwriter, was taken off from Spotify and other platforms. Ghostwriter later tried to get the song a Grammy nomination, but it didn’t get through.
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Spotify and Bots
In recent news, the Financial Times found that some tracks were taken off Spotify. The removal happened after finding out bots were used to falsely boost their streaming numbers.
Ek spoke about Spotify’s investments in podcasts, including shows from Michelle and Barack Obama and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. He commented on these decisions:
“Some of it has worked, some of it hasn’t.” He mentioned how five years ago, Spotify had no presence in podcasting.
Ek Speaks on Tech Policies
Daniel Ek, who’s based in Sweden, was in the UK discussing tech regulations. He expressed support for the upcoming Online Safety Bill and the Digital Markets Bill. Both aim to enhance online safety and competition.
Ek has been critical of Apple and Google’s app store policies. He mentioned, “We are in a situation where two companies control how over four billion consumers access the internet.”
Apple currently charges a 15% commission on in-app purchases from smaller developers. For larger developers making more than $1m, this goes up to 30%. Spotify has raised concerns about Apple’s approach, stating it makes direct communication with customers difficult.
In 2020, Spotify lodged a complaint against Apple with the European Commission (EC) about breaking EU competition rules. Apple responded by saying most European developers earn less than $1m and thus pay a lower commission rate.
The CEO’s take is just another addition towards the ongoing conversations regarding the boundaries of AI in the creative space. Concurrently, technology firms, including Getty Images, are seeking solutions that respect intellectual property when generating AI content. The rising copyright disputes linked to AI across various industries, businesses and platforms, including Spotify, face the responsibility of establishing clear guidelines for AI’s role in creative fields.