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UMG Says AI Generated Music On Apple Music And Spotify Violates Copyright

Universal Music Group raises copyright concerns over AI-generated songs on Apple Music and Spotify, calling for the platforms to block AI systems from scraping melodies and lyrics.

BeatCurry Team


Universal Music Group (UMG) has raised concerns about a rising number of AI-generated songs being uploaded to popular music streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. The music label has alleged that these songs, including AI-generated covers of existing music, may be in breach of copyright laws. In response, UMG has issued numerous takedown requests and called on both Apple and Spotify to prevent AI systems from scraping melodies and lyrics from their platforms.


The AI-generated songs are produced through a process similar to AI chat systems, like ChatGPT and Bard. Both systems learn from analyzing large amounts of data; chatbots learn from text while music bots analyze melodies and lyrics from existing music. However, concerns have been raised regarding the potential for these AI systems to infringe copyright laws. Chatbots might incorporate entire phrases or sentences from human authors, while music bots could replicate both music and lyrics from human artists.


UMG is a major player in the music industry, with licensing rights for approximately one-third of the global music market, including high-profile artists like Taylor Swift, Elton John, and The Weeknd. In light of UMG’s concerns, both Apple and Spotify have been asked to take steps to block AI-generated songs from their platforms.


As per the The Financial Times, it reports that UMG has emailed a number of streaming music services including Apple Music and Spotify asking them to block scraping of lyrics and melodies. The email, seen by the paper, says in part:


“We have become aware that certain AI systems might have been trained on copyrighted content without obtaining the required consents from, or paying compensation to, the rights holders who own or produce the content. We will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists.”


As per FT here’s how a music bot prompt essentially works “Compose a song that has the lyrics to be like Taylor Swift, but the vocals to be in the style of Bruno Mars, but I want the theme to be more Harry Styles.” The output may be original, but for sampling, it borrows from existing music.


A model called MusicLM, developed by Google, is an example of a songbot used to create music. As per MusicLM:


“We introduce MusicLM, a model generating high-fidelity music from text descriptions such as “a calming violin melody backed by a distorted guitar riff”. MusicLM casts the process of conditional music generation as a hierarchical sequence-to-sequence modeling task, and it generates music at 24 kHz that remains consistent over several minutes. Our experiments show that MusicLM outperforms previous systems both in audio quality and adherence to the text description. Moreover, we demonstrate that MusicLM can be conditioned on both text and a melody in that it can transform whistled and hummed melodies according to the style described in a text caption.”


However, Google discovered that the model would directly incorporate existing music into its creations in around 1% of cases. The company says that it won’t release the model publicly until it has solved this issue. As per FT, Apple hadn’t responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.


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