Spotify will not completely ban AI-created content

Daniel Ek, the chief executive of music streaming giant Spotify, says the platform is not planning to entirely ban content created by artificial intelligence.

Ek told this to the BBC amidst fears among creators about the proliferation of AI-generated music and its impact on the industry. Spotify itself had to pull a track featuring the cloned voices of Drake and The Weeknd earlier this year.

However, the Spotify boss has now said that there actually are valid uses of the technology in making music. Yes, AI should not be used to impersonate human artists without their consent, but the debate about the technology is likely to last for many years, Ek added.

Ek, who rarely speaks to the media (but whose rise was covered in a Netflix mini-series, reviewed here), said that the use of AI could be acceptable for auto-tuning, for example.

But a far trickier middle ground would be AI-created music, clearly influenced by existing artists but not directly impersonating them. Spotify has already banned its content from being used for AI model training.

"You can imagine someone uploading a song, claiming to be Madonna, even if they're not. We've seen pretty much everything in the history of Spotify at this point with people trying to game our system," Ek told the BBC. "We have a very large team that is working on exactly these types of issues."

As Cybernews reported back in February, fears are growing that self-improving machines will ultimately replace human composers and producers in the electronic music industry. However, creators of AI music-generating apps have insisted that “generative music” will actually lower the bar of entry into the industry.

For instance, at the beginning of August, Meta released an open-source music generator called MusicGen. It has been trained on 20,000 hours of licensed music and produces short samples based on textual and melody prompts.

AI is clearly essential to the success of Spotify, the world’s most popular audio streaming service. Tony Jebara, the company’s head of machine learning strategy, said back in 2019: “Machine learning is at the heart of everything we do.”

AI helps Spotify to personalize the user experience. It recommends artists, playlists, and podcasts so that users are active and more likely to subscribe in the long term.

Machine learning technology and its effectiveness may also have been one of the reasons behind Spotify’s decision to reduce its employee base by 6%, or around 600 people, at the beginning of 2023.

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