The old adage about bankruptcy is that it happens very slowly and then very suddenly. The emergence of creative music AI has taken a similar route: we have been aware of it, and listening to it, and writing about it for years, and now here it is, in the form of “Heart On My Sleeve”, getting streamed millions of times. That is: getting streamed millions of times *despite being officially taken off DSPs* after UMG issued a copyright claim. But: people want the song. It’s still available, as it’s being uploaded by users as user-generated content on platforms like TikTok, where it continues to rack up millions of streams. So how long can rightsholders quell something like this with takedowns? Making soundalike songs like this is easy and cheap, and a network of platforms exists to share UGC, even when the track is not “officially” available. Whack-a-mole at this level feels impossible.
But the other extreme – the idea that majors should simply embrace these AI versions and find a way to make money from them – would perhaps create a race to the bottom, of endless drab content featuring voices we know, and cheapening the artists’ brands. So what’s the answer? It’s likely a combination of both of the above, albeit with close collaboration with both AI and music-sharing platforms. Businesses are now quickly making big decisions around AI’s use of their content: Reddit, for instance, has decided to charge big companies for access to its API, because many chat AIs have been trained on the myriad human conversations that happen on Reddit.
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