Grimes Claire Boucher
Grimes performing at the Governors Ball in June 2014. PC: Jordan Uhl/Flickr

Musician and songwriter Grimes is embracing artificial intelligence and all of its complications.

Grimes shared on Twitter a link to “Elf Tech” and captioned it, “if u register music with us we can collect & pay out royalties direct to anyone who uses A.I. Grimes vocals using smart contracts. The future rly is now! this is so cool.” Registering with this program will simplify the royalty collection process.

Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, has always been a strong proponent of creating art without restraints and leaning into technology, frequently calling out corporations and organizations that prey on musicians. She also stated on Twitter that she’s excited by the “idea of open-sourcing all art and killing copyright.”

She said her team is working on a program “that should simulate my voice well” and may release acapellas so creatives can train their own software. After her announcement, fans poured in with support and links to music they’ve made using Grimes’ vocals, adding that she’s excited about being a “guinea pig” for technology. “I think it’s cool to be fused w[ith] a machine,” she said.

Using Grimes’ AI-generated voice isn’t free, though. She added she would split royalties 50/50 for songs that use her voice, which is the same deal she’d sign with any artist. Since Grimes has no label or legal bindings she’s able to grant permission to use her voice.

Artists today are embracing the innovative uses of artificial intelligence technology. It’s become highly popularized in recent months. A recent collaboration between an AI-generated voice of Drake and The Weeknd sent the music world into a frenzy.

The faux collaboration caught wind on social media and garnered millions of plays on YouTube, Spotify, and TikTok before Universal Music Group, who represents Drake and The Weeknd, had them taken down. Ghostwriter, the sly name behind the fake blockbuster collaboration, declined New York Times‘ comment request on which elements are created by AI, and which are created by humans.

Drake and The Weeknd’s AI collaboration on “Heart on My Sleeve.”

“It is now possible to produce infinite media in the style or likeness of someone else, soon with little effort, so we all have to come to terms with what that means,” musician Holly Herndon told New York Times in an email. “The question is, as a society, do we care what Drake really feels or is it enough to just hear a superficially intelligent rendering? For some people that will not be enough. However, when you consider that most people listening to Spotify are doing so just to have something pleasant to listen to, it complicates things.”

Since AI is trained on data points that are already available, others’ intellectual property rights come into question. Do these AI creation tools and companies have permission to use musicians’ songs, melodies, or voices without explicit permission? The jury’s still out, but artists like “Tom Waits and Bette Midler have successfully argued in court that they had a right to not just their musical compositions or recordings, but their voices, in the face of sound-alike imitators in advertisements,” per New York Times.

“Heart on My Sleeve” used a vocal snippet from Future that sounded like Metro Boomin’ produced the track. The sample was not cleared for use and is the reason UMG removed the song from streaming services, according to The Verge.

Last month the US Copyright Office said that AI-generated images are not copyrightable because they lack “human authorship.” Author Kris Kashtanova, who wrote “Zarya of the Dawn,” used images in her book that were generated by Midjourney from prompts she fed the program. Feeding Midjourney a specific string of text so it can generate images is not enough human authorship for the Copyright Office.

“The fact that Midjourney’s specific output cannot be predicted by users makes Midjourney different for copyright purposes than other tools used by artists,” the Copyright Office wrote at the time.

“There is more opportunity in exploring this technology than trying to shut it down,” Herndon added.

Follow Grimes:

Spotify | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.