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It looks like Fake Drake won’t be taking home a Grammy. Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said this week that although the organization will consider music with limited AI-generated voices or instrumentation for award recognition, it will only honor songs written and performed “mostly by a human.”
“At this point, we are going to allow AI music and content to be submitted, but the Grammys will only be allowed to go to human creators who have contributed creatively in the appropriate categories,” Mason said in an interview with Grammy.com. “If there’s an AI voice singing the song or AI instrumentation, we’ll consider it. But in a songwriting-based category, it has to have been written mostly by a human. Same goes for performance categories – only a human performer can be considered for a Grammy. If AI did the songwriting or created the music, that’s a different consideration. But the Grammy will go to human creators at this point.”
The CEO’s comments mean the fake Drake / The Weeknd song “Heart on My Sleeve,” which went viral earlier this year before getting wiped from streaming platforms over copyright takedowns, wouldn’t be eligible. Another AI-generated scammer sold fake Frank Ocean tracks in April for a reported CAD 13,000 ($9,722 in US dollars), while Spotify has been busy purging tens of thousands of AI-made songs from its library.
On the other hand, it raises questions about artists like Holly Herndon, who used an AI version of her voice for a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” (The AI-generated performance would suggest not, but would the fact that it’s her own voice make a difference?) Or, for that matter, there’s the upcoming “final” Beatles track that Paul McCartney says will use AI to isolate a garbled recording of John Lennon’s voice. And would Taryn Southern, who (also transparently) used AI to co-produce her 2018 debut album, be eligible? We reached out to the Recording Academy for clarification about these examples and will update this article if they respond.
Awards or not, Mason acknowledged that AI would upend the music industry. “AI is going to absolutely, unequivocally have a hand in shaping the future of our industry,” Mason said. “So, we have to start planning around that and thinking about what that means for us. How can we adapt to accommodate? How can we set guardrails and standards? There are a lot of things that need to be addressed around AI as it relates to our industry.” The CEO added that the Recording Academy recently held a summit “with industry leaders, tech entrepreneurs, streaming platforms, and people from the artist community” to discuss AI’s future. “We talked about the subject and discussed how the Recording Academy can be helpful: how we can play a role and the future of AI in music.”