Faux songs and old concepts
Billboard magazine has a fascinating piece on the rise of the use of deepfake vocals to create what the piece terms “faux songs”: ‘It’s Fan Fiction For Music’: Why Deepfake Vocals of Music Legends Are on the Rise.
The piece showcases the recent rise of deepfake vocals (vocals produced by computers that closely resemble the voices of well known artists) in new songs that are generally produced without involvement of the artists who’s voices are reproduced1. It is a super interesting introduction into a world of music production full of delightfull wired-ness. I particularly like this track featuring a recreation of Travis Scott’s voice, which combines glitchy aesthetics with what the agency producing the song “considered to be cohesive lyrics”:
Sadly the main thesis of the piece (“Faux songs created from the original voices of star artists are becoming more popular (and more convincing), leading to murky questions of morality and legality”) does not do this phenomenon much justice. The idea that this type artistic production enabled by digital manipulation techniques can somehow be understood though concepts like “faux” vs “orignial” strikes me as outright silly. Quite obviously the “faux” works are just as orignal as any of the “originals” that the voices are derived from.
Even more problematic are continuing attempts to fit this type of creativity into existing concepts like authorship and copyright. The realities of creative production today are so far removed from the realities in the late 19th century (when modern ideas about copyright and authorship were codified) that it really does not make much sense to try to analyse them throught the lens of these concepts.
We urgently need new concepts that do a better job at recognising artistic innovation while at the same time ensuring that the value created in the process is fairly distributed.
Fortunately the author does fall into the trap pretending that these songs have been produced by “artificial intelligence”. While he mentions the term once, the article makes it clear that these songs have been produced by people who are using machine learning models to generate the deepfake voices. In the examples discussed in the piece the actual lyrics, beats and compositions (ie the copyrighted works) are all written by individuals or teams. ↩︎