Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., expressed concerns on Tuesday about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on songwriters, musicians, and other artists in the entertainment industry, particularly women. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing focused on regulating AI, Blackburn asked witnesses how Congress can ensure that artists can still generate revenue as AI algorithms and cloning technologies pose a threat to their work.
According to Blackburn, one way artists are being negatively affected is through generative AI cloning of voices and melodies. She specifically mentioned OpenAI’s Jukebox, a neural network that generates music in various genres and artist styles. This experimental technology can be trained to imitate individual artists, potentially undermining their ability to be compensated for their work.
Blackburn also highlighted an example shared by country icon Martina McBride. McBride attempted to create a playlist on Spotify, a music streaming service that uses AI to generate playlists based on user preferences. However, she had to request a playlist 13 times before a female artist was included. Blackburn argued that the power of AI to shape what people hear could limit the potential success of new artists, females, and certain sounds.
Blackburn further emphasized that the threat to artists and entertainers extends to the rapid development and utilization of AI by the Chinese Communist Party. Chinese companies like ByteDance are working on AI music creation, which raises concerns about the potential theft and replication of content created by American talent. Blackburn believes that it is crucial to ensure that all artists have a fair opportunity for promotion based on their talent and success, just as they do in Music City, referring to Nashville.
During the hearing, Professor Stuart Russell of Oxford University agreed that this issue is of great importance and that current laws were not prepared for the possibilities presented by AI.
In conclusion, Blackburn warns that AI-based algorithms and cloning technologies pose significant challenges for songwriters and artists, particularly women, in terms of generating revenue and achieving success in the entertainment industry. These concerns extend not only to AI music creation but also to playlist curation, where algorithmically generated playlists may exclude new artists, females, or certain sounds. The development of regulations that address these issues is essential to protect the rights and livelihood of artists in the face of advancing AI technologies.