Ben Hill, the man behind the music project Posse Unit (Spotify, Instagram), has put LALAL.AI in the headlines. He used the AI-powered stem-splitting service to extract Taylor Swift's voice from her songs, then edited it, and put it into his track, which is now climbing the UK charts. Let's take a look at how it all came about, what it means for the state of music now and in the future, and the legal implications of such musical experiments.
The Rise of AI in Music Production
Artificial intelligence has been increasingly utilized in various aspects of music production, including songwriting, composition, and production. LALAL.AI is a prime example of how AI is transforming the music industry.
Developed by a team of specialists in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and digital signal processing, LALAL.AI is a stem-splitting and noise-canceling service available online and as an application for desktop, iOS and Android.
Running on an advanced Orion neural network, the service enables musicians to extract voice, background music, and separate instruments from audio and video files, opening up a world of creative possibilities.
Ben Hill's Journey with LALAL.AI
Ben Hill embarked on a musical experiment using LALAL.AI to incorporate Taylor Swift's vocals into his latest song, "Get Your Head On This," at the beginning of October 2023. Inspired by the recently released Beatles song "Now and Then," which utilized AI to complete an unfinished track, Hill saw an opportunity to push the boundaries of music production.
“I can say Taylor Swift sang on backing vocals and that can be on my gravestone.”
Hill's process began with isolating Taylor Swift's vocals from her existing songs using LALAL.AI. The software's machine learning algorithms enabled him to extract Swift's voice and seamlessly integrate it into his composition. Hill specifically chose the phrase "Get Your Head On This" from one of Swift's songs and transformed it into a catchy backing vocal for his track.
The song has currently reached 28 in the UK iTunes chart and was featured in multiple major Spotify playlists, including Hiphop Trap and Rap Hits and Pure Rap and HipHop, each amassing over 30,000 likes. The story of Hill's unilateral collaboration with Taylor Swift has been covered by WiltshireTimes, Wales Online, Metro, and Yahoo News, among other publications. This may not be the definition of an overnight success, but is still a significant response to a song released by an independent artist.
"The fact my song is in the top 30 in the UK is a dream come true for Swiftie-loving songwriter - it’s unbelievable. For a song made by a songwriter in his bedroom on a knackered old Lenovo laptop, it’s kind of gone really, really well.”
Legal Implications and Concerns
While Hill's use of AI technology to incorporate Taylor Swift's vocals into his song has garnered attention and success, it raises important legal questions regarding copyright and intellectual property.
Hill acknowledges his concern about potential contact from Taylor Swift's lawyers, but he emphasizes that he made efforts to contact her for permission before releasing the song. Despite attempts to reach out via email and Instagram, Hill did not receive a response from Swift, leading him to proceed with the release.
“I feel really good that I've managed to get my dream just through computer technology, not many people can say they have Taylor Swift singing on their song. I’ve thought outside the box - unless I get big fat no I tend to go for something.”
Ben knows that the possibility of being hit with a copyright lawsuit is real but is not afraid of the repercussions. He has a sense of humor about the situation:
“I am a little bit worried about being contacted by her lawyers, but I'm not fearing the electric chair. She can try and sue me if she wants but I'm £250 into my overdraft so might take her a while to get money out of me. ”
The legal landscape surrounding AI-generated music is still evolving, and there is ongoing debate about the rights and responsibilities of artists and creators. Copyright issues, licensing, and the proper compensation of artists are significant concerns in this emerging field.
Platforms like YouTube are taking steps to address these issues by ensuring payments go directly to artists when their songs are used, but the complexities of licensing and copyright in relation to AI-generated music remain a gray area.
The Impact of AI on the Music Industry
Hill's experiment with LALAL.AI and the success of his song featuring Taylor Swift's vocals highlight the transformative potential of AI in the music industry. AI technologies like LALAL.AI enable musicians and producers to access a vast pool of creative resources, providing them with new avenues for artistic expression.
The ability to isolate and manipulate vocals using AI algorithms opens up opportunities for collaboration and experimentation. Musicians can now reimagine existing songs, incorporate vocals from iconic artists, and create unique compositions that were previously unimaginable. The democratization of music production through AI empowers independent artists and allows for innovative and unconventional approaches to music creation.
Moreover, AI-generated music has the potential to reshape the music industry's business model. As AI technology becomes more sophisticated, AI-generated music could challenge traditional notions of authorship and ownership. The question of who receives royalties and how artists are compensated in this new landscape will continue to be a topic of discussion and legal consideration.
However, is essential to strike a balance between embracing AI technology and respecting the rights of artists. Establishing clear guidelines and regulations regarding AI-generated music will be crucial to ensure fair compensation, protect intellectual property, and maintain ethical standards in the music industry.