Spotify's CEO, Daniel Ek, has confirmed that the platform will welcome music generated by artificial intelligence (AI). This decision follows a recent incident where Spotify removed tracks featuring AI-cloned voices of renowned artists Drake and The Weeknd. Ek, in conversation with BBC News, emphasized that while AI music is legitimate, it should not impersonate artists without consent. He delineated three categories of AI in music, highlighting the acceptable use of tools like auto-tune and the contentious nature of AI mimicking artists.
Balancing Innovation and Authenticity
Ek's revelation underscores the evolving dynamics in the music industry, with AI becoming a significant player. The Spotify chief identified a “contentious middle ground” where AI-generated music is influenced by existing artists but does not directly impersonate them. He anticipates that the integration of AI in music will spark debates for “many, many years,” especially regarding its impact on creators and the definition of art. Irish musician Hozier has voiced concerns over AI, questioning whether technology-created music meets the artistic threshold.
Impersonation and Ethical Dilemmas
The ethical implications of AI in music are multifaceted. Spotify had to confront this when a track titled “Heart on My Sleeve,” featuring cloned voices of Drake and The Weeknd, surfaced on the platform. Neither artist was aware of this impersonation, leading to the track's removal and a subsequent failed Grammy nomination attempt by its creator, Ghostwriter. Ek acknowledged the challenges, stating, “You can imagine someone uploading a song, claiming to be Madonna, even if they're not.” He assured that Spotify is actively addressing such issues with a dedicated team.
Regulatory Conversations and Platform Growth
Beyond the realm of music creation, Ek's interview also touched on Spotify's stance on regulatory frameworks like the Online Safety Bill and the Digital Markets Bill. The CEO expressed support for these initiatives aimed at enhancing internet safety and market competition. Ek's critique of app store policies, particularly those of Apple and Google, highlighted the ongoing tensions between platform providers and developers. Spotify's investment in podcasts and collaborations with high-profile figures like the Obamas and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were also discussed, reflecting the platform's diversified growth strategy.