The decision by the Recording Academy to keep the AI-performed song “Heart On My Sleeve” eligible for a Grammy is being criticized as a serious error. The song was submitted by an anonymous social media user, Ghostwriter977, and has sparked debate within the music industry about the implications of AI in music creation.
Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. acknowledged the challenges posed by AI in music, raising questions about its impact on creativity and the business implications for monetization. However, critics argue that the potential harm of new technology has often been overlooked, leading to disastrous outcomes. Examples include election tampering via social media platforms, the collapse of the NFT/cryptocurrency bubble, and housing and transportation crises worsened by apps like Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber.
The impact of technology on the music industry is also significant. Last year, the creation of virtual rapper FN Meka, allegedly created through AI and voiced by a human performer, was seen as a sign of an industry push to replace performers and writers. The legitimization of “Heart On My Sleeve”, though unlikely to earn a nomination, could inspire future imitations.
Critics argue that with listeners already overwhelmed by a constant influx of new content, introducing AI-created music could further exacerbate the issue. AI does not require vacations or inspiration and can produce songs algorithmically designed to appeal to listeners.
While this may be beneficial for the business side of the music industry, it could lead to job cuts as departments become redundant due to AI technologies. This has been seen in industries like auto manufacturing and construction. Critics also point out that label heads may initially see AI music as a good investment but may struggle with managing the “artists” they have only a basic understanding of.
The introduction of new technologies has often disrupted the music industry. The advent of .mp3s led to panic until the 360-degree deal was introduced, which took more wealth from artists and gave it to shareholders and CEOs. The rise of Spotify and TikTok also saw labels working out deals to ensure they received the majority of the revenue, often at the expense of artists.
Critics argue that legitimizing AI-created music could hurt not only the artists it imitates but also other artists in the industry by devaluing their work. It could also lead to the collapse of peripheral industries, such as management, legal services, promotion, touring booking, and venues. The introduction of AI into music creation could destabilize the industry, which is built on human creators relating human experiences to human listeners.