Nashville musicians worried AI could deprive them of their right to make a living: Sen. Blackburn

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EXCLUSIVE: Nashville musicians are increasingly worried about complications with artificial intelligence’s growing sophistication that could threaten their livelihood, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., warned this week.

‘We met with the Nashville Technology Council a couple of weeks ago, and we have talked with so many of the musicians. They’re concerned that using AI, they will do a copycat of their voice and take the lyrics of their song, which you can get on ChatGPT,’ Blackburn told Fox News Digital during an interview in her Senate office.

ChatGPT ‘pulls it right up, and then you can lay in that voice. Give me a voice that sounds like Garth Brooks. Give me a voice that sounds like Reba McEntire singing,’ the senator said.

‘And you can get that type of generation through these platforms that exist … and that means the artist makes no money, so you’re depriving them of their constitutional right to benefit from their work,’ Blackburn added.

Concerns about musicians’ copyright ownership, and those of content creators as a whole, have been a growing issue as AI continues to permeate different facets of everyday life. That includes song clips that have been shared on social media that appear to be samples of artists like Drake, when in reality they are generated entirely by AI technology.

Blackburn raised these issues during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing Tuesday, when lawmakers on both sides questioned OpenAI CEO Sam Altman about the rapidly advancing AI sector. That hearing featured an example of AI’s ability that Blackburn and songwriters are worried about.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., started the hearing by letting an AI-generated voice that sounded like his read part of an AI-generated opening statement.

‘Can you commit, as you’ve done with consumer data, not to train AI models on artists’ and songwriters’ copyrighted works, or use their voices and their likenesses without first receiving their consent?’ Blackburn asked Altman,

Altman did not give her a direct answer but downplayed the reach of OpenAI’s Jukebox app, which generates music using AI. 

‘Jukebox does not get much attention or usage. It was just put out to show what’s possible,’ he said.

‘We think that content creators, content owners, need to benefit from this technology,’ he said, referring to AI. ‘Exactly what the economic model is we’re still talking to artists and content owners about what they want. I think there’s a lot of ways this can happen. But, very clearly, no matter what the law is, the right thing to do is to make sure people get significant upside benefit from this new technology.’

Blackburn signaled to Fox News Digital that she was dissatisfied with Altman’s answer.

‘I think he showed he was aware of those concerns, but he did not have answers,’ she said. ‘And that is going to mean that Congress needs to step in and look for similar situations.

‘He didn’t seem to be familiar with what the music industry went through with Napster, where they would take the songs and put them out, but the artists got no money. And, of course, he has [Jukebox],’ she said. ‘And we’re very concerned about a format like that being commercialized, even though it isn’t right now.’

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