Spotify’s stance on artificial intelligence (AI) has taken a surprising turn. The CEO of the world’s largest music streaming platform announced on Tuesday a reversal of the decision to prohibit AI-generated music. This decision comes on the heels of an announcement regarding AI-driven podcast translations, offering a means for both commercial and independent content creators to access global audiences.
Previously this year, a piece of AI-generated music titled “Heart on My Sleeve” gained immense popularity on Spotify. This composition emulated the voices of prominent artists Drake and The Weeknd and was crafted by the startup Ghostwriter using a neural network trained on the vocal stylings of these artists. Subsequently, Spotify removed the track from its platform, consistent with its prior stance against AI-generated music, presumably to steer clear of legal complications and public disapproval.
Furthermore, the creator of the AI-generated song attempted to submit it for consideration at the Grammy Awards, but the submission was rejected on the grounds that AI-generated creations cannot be copyrighted.
In a recent interview with BBC, Spotify’s CEO, Daniel Ek, indicated a change in direction, adopting a more nuanced approach rather than an outright ban on AI-generated music. While he stressed the unacceptability of directly mimicking artists without their consent, he acknowledged that there are legitimate applications for AI in the realm of music creation that should be permitted.
Ek admitted, “Navigating this territory will be a complex endeavor. We have a substantial team dedicated to addressing precisely these kinds of challenges.”
Beyond the realm of music, Spotify is poised to introduce another innovation—AI-powered podcast translations that preserve the original speaker’s voice.
Spotify unveiled this groundbreaking feature, known as Voice Translation for podcasts, in an official announcement on September 25. This feature will be gradually rolled out, starting with a selection of podcasts being translated into Spanish, with plans to extend this service to French and German audiences.
AI researcher Lex Fridman expressed his support for this technology on Twitter, asserting that it could help “unearth our shared humanity.” Fridman showcased a video where he conversed in Spanish, despite lacking proficiency in the language, thanks to the magic of AI.
The Debate Surrounding AI’s Role in Art Outside of the music industry, there remain prominent figures who harbor reservations about AI’s expanding influence, fearing that it may pose a threat to creative professions. While some have voiced their concerns regarding this technology, others have taken legal action against AI companies, alleging that these systems unjustly replicate their creative work during training.
For instance, authors like George R.R. Martin have voiced objections to AI systems like ChatGPT building upon their literary creations without permission. Visual artists have similarly brought forth legal claims against AI image generators like Midjourney.
Spotify’s cautious embrace of AI’s creative potential, coupled with prudent safeguards, aims to unlock new possibilities while steering clear of legal pitfalls. Nevertheless, as Ek puts it, the process of regulating this technology while addressing valid concerns from artists is likely to remain a complex and delicate endeavor.
In summary, Spotify is cautiously forging ahead to embrace AI-driven innovation and transformation, all while navigating the ongoing challenges associated with the increasing presence of generative AI in the mainstream.