‘Grimes is now open source and self replicating’
Many musicians view the rise of AI as an existential threat to their way of life, and it’s easy to see why. In the last week alone, Universal Music Group took legal action after an AI collab between Drake and The Weeknd went viral, Google introduced a DALL-E style text-to-music generator, and Spotify playlists seemingly started filling up with AI-generated tracks. Grimes, however, is ready for AI to take over the industry.
On April 24, the musician and fully automated luxury communism advocate shared a screenshot of a New York Times article about the fake Drake and The Weeknd hit, “Heart on My Sleeve”, and how it’s “rattled” the music world. Far from seeming “rattled”, though, she proposed a new way forward for musicians whose voices might fall prey to AI music generators.
“I’ll split 50 per cent royalties on any successful AI-generated song that uses my voice,” she tweeted. “Same deal as I would with any artist I collab with. Feel free to use my voice without penalty. I have no label and no legal bindings.”
Of course, Grimes has a tendency to muse about hypothetical futures online (remember her plans for a lesbian space commune on Mars?) but this time her ideas go beyond a Faé fantasy. On April 30, the musician followed up her initial tweet with a link to a website named Elf.Tech. There, she explains, anyone can upload themelves singing, or sing directly into the app, and have their voice transformed into Grimes’, free of charge.
Grimes stresses that this is still a beta test, and might not work perfectly at first – plus, remixes of music from her older albums might get taken down, since she doesn’t own the rights to the vocals. Otherwise, though, you’ll be able to collect 50 per cent royalties based on any songs you might create under Grimes’ name and likeness, by distributing them through Elf.Tech itself, or via your own label.
For Grimes, the proposal is part of a potential sea-change for the music industry as a whole. “I think it’s cool to be fused [with] a machine and I like the idea of open sourcing all art and killing copyright,” she explained last week. In line with this dream, her team is also releasing vocal stems and samples for people who want to train their own AI models on her voice.
It’s worth noting that Grimes has a long history with AI. Over the past few years, she’s been married to OpenAI co-founder Elon Musk, collaborated with AI expert Liv Boeree, and launched an AI girl group, NPC. She’s also expressed concern that AI will one day render musicians “obsolete”, so she isn’t just jumping on the bandwagon without a second thought.
In the midst of making her musical persona “open source and self replicating”, Grimes has also teased some imminent new music. Two tracks, appropriately titled “Music for Machines” and “I wanna be software”, are said to be coming soon.