Capitalism withers authenticity of the music industry

Ben Lance, Reporter

   Many Spotify playlists are filled with tons of songs that sound the same and are made by artists that it seems like nobody knows. This is becoming more of a common experience for music consumers, but most don’t even bat an eye. 

   If it was not the 21st century, these unheard-of-artists would be written off as “copycats” or “clones” of a bigger artist. Reality is, some of them could be using artificial intelligence (AI) -generated instrumentals, lyrics, and perhaps even vocals.  

   This was originally brought to attention through a TikTok by the user @dritzbitz, when he discovered a jazz playlist where many songs on it sounded very similar. When looking at the profiles of these artists, they had little to no description, a high count of streams, and a very low amount of songs. This raises a few questions, as even a derivative artist would have more personality or content than that.

   On Nov. 25, 2020, Spotify filed a patent for a new technology that, in theory, should help artists avoid lawsuits. According to Input Mag’s, “Spotify could soon replace real artists with AI music,” the patent defines how a track’s lead sheets, which detail the song’s melody, lyrics, and chord structure, could be analyzed to cross-reference it with other songs to alert of the possibility of a copyright claim. 

   Over a year prior, on Sept. 4, 2019, another patent was filed by Spotify with the intention of utilizing AI for content creation. The caveat of this patent, however, was that the AI could only be trained on pre-existing content, which would lead to a higher chance of plagiarized music being made. 

   The combination of these two patents allows for Spotify to create and sell music to labels and/or producers, without needing an actual human to create the art. This also ensures bigger margins for the company, as they do not need to pay an artist for their work.

  For the final nail in the artists’ casket, Spotify acquired an AI voice program in June, as reported by the company on its newsroom website. Sonantic, the program, is known for its realistic text-to-speech capabilities, as opposed to the generic Siri voice many have come to know.

   This is terrifying for the future of creativity and individuality in music. People cherish this art form because of the emotions, experiences, and talent that the artist puts on display for all. Corporations will do anything for money, including the slaughter of art, which is why it is crucial for consumers to be aware of what these tech companies are doing behind the scenes.