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AI vs the State of Tennessee: Protecting Songwriters, Artists and Performers

The bill seeks to protect vocal artists (singers, songwriters, performers) from AI appropriation, and is the first of its kind in the US

AI vs State of Tennessee

The case of songwriters, performers, and other music industry professionals with regard to artificial intelligence is one that is seemingly causing anguish. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Wednesday revealed a new legislation designed to protect these performers and artists.

Lee stood in the iconic Nashville’s RCA Studio A, where legends such as Dolly Parton once stood. Amidst the crowd of eager but also alarmed music artists, Lee stated that, “Tennessee will be the first state in the country to protect artists’ voices with this legislation,” and we hope it will be a blueprint for the country.”

States across the country wrestle with the issue between artificial intelligence and creative practice such as music. The legislation arriving at this time served to take a stance against this issue preventively.  The bill has yet to be introduced inside the Tennessee legislature and the text of the proposal is in wait to be publicly distributed. One of the key points of this legislation is the idea that AI should not, and must not be able to, replicate an artist’s voice without the artist’s consent – this involved one of the most iconic residents of the state – Elvis Presley.

Although there are several laws condemning the use of facial, pictural likeness, there is no state currently having protections against vocal likeness.

“If a machine is able to take something from someone’s lifetime and experience and re-create it without permission, or take someone’s voice and use it without permission, let’s just call it what it is: It’s wrong,” said four-time Grammy-nominated songwriter Jamie Moore.

The major takeaway here is to ensure that AI doesn’t manipulate the voice of the artist and use it to create its own music, without permission. The second aspect of this fight is the fight for proper payment.

The growth of generative AI from awkward songs in February to full-fledged emotional ballads in October is a scary realization that the industry is fighting against.

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