will.i.am dismisses claims that AI is incapable of musical innovation, and says that it can write a song the same way he does

(Image credit: Lionel Hahn/Getty Images for Vayner)

Renowned futurist and producer will.i.am has been having his say on the potential impact of AI on the music industry, and it probably won’t surprise you to learn that he seems pretty upbeat about it.

Speaking to UK breakfast show Good Morning Britain, the Black Eyed Peas member and producer described AI as “the new renaissance”.

And, when presenter, former politician and celebrity hoofer Ed Balls voiced the widely held misconception that AI can only mimic what’s already out there and isn’t capable of innovating, will.i.am was quick to set him straight.

“It can [innovate],” he said. “I heard it.”

Suggesting that he was talking about an AI-written song composed in his style, will.i.am explained: “The song that I heard, it wasn’t a different version of what I’ve already done. It was a brand-new song. And it wrote it the way I would’ve written it. The concept of ‘it’s only doing what we did’, that’s not accurate anymore. It’s doing new stuff.”

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Despite his upbeat assessment, will.i.am does concede that, as we move forward, the regulation surrounding AI and music creation needs to be tightened up.

“The concerns are not what the AI does; the concerns are what we do as people and the regulations and the guidelines that we put on folks that are building the models,” he believes. “The fact that AI can mimic, but at the same time we haven’t put in clauses where the people own their likeness and their essence, that’s one thing. AI’s not designed that - people are.”

AI has become a hot topic in the music industry this year, and artists have voiced conflicting opinions. When the technology was used to create a track that sounded like it featured vocals by Drake and The Weeknd, the stars’ record company had it pulled from streaming services, but Grimes subsequently released a tool that enables anyone to create a vocal that sounds like her and invited potential collaborators to use it.

Nick Cave, meanwhile, labelled a track written by ChatGPT in his style as “bullshit”.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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