What do Deepfakes mean for Music? – The Next Melody

In a previous UOW digital and social media seminar, BCM112-Emergent media lecture Ted Miteow said “If something can be automated, it will be”.

In BCM325 I discuss future cultures and for this instalment of my Digital Artefact I will be talking about deepfakes. I have a podcast on future cultures of music called The Next Melody, However the episodes are fortnightly. This Blog will provide content to support the podcast on the weeks when I do not upload an episode. So, let us get into it.

Firstly, what is a deepfake?

Cornell University’s IT department’s publication “The Creation and Detection of Deepfakes: A survey” has provided me with an excellent definition. “A deepfake is content generated by artificial intelligence which seems authentic in the eyes of a human being”. This definition is also not limited to sight, it involves hearing. A deepfake example I will be exploring will be Jay-Z cover of a Billy Joel song. The significance of this 4chan meme is it opened up  huge lawsuit. Artists are now fighting AI sofware and unfortunately they don’t seem to have a winning case. Pitch Forks article explores the legal implications of deepfakes. The Pitch Fork article states:

“It depends. Some states have a right of publicity, which allows an individual to control the commercial use of their name and likeness. In California, the entertainment industry has been lobbying for updating publicity-rights rules to address deepfakes.”

With no definitive law in place deepfakes are all over the internet not just in music, we see it in videos everywhere. In Future Cultures we look back at historical trends and try to predict the future. Although deepfakes are very new at this moment, there was a time when digital synthesisers were not considered real music because they were generated by a machine. Now synthesisers are at the forefront of audio production and ruled over  the 80’s sythn-pop era. I believe in the music industry deepfakes will be around for a while however they will not be easily accepted. To provide a prediction I believe within 10 years will be hearing AI generated artists on the top charts and within 50 years this will be a popular source of revenue for record labels.

Personally I don’t like the idea of AI replacing humans, and so far, deepfakes may sound similar to artists, they still have a very robotic nature about them and until technology is further developed AI ruling the billboard charts will have to wait.

Thank you for following along, join me next week for my podcast The Next Melody, but until then stay safe.

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