Google developers have launched MusicLM, a new AI system that can make music of any genre from a text description. However, the company has not yet released the technology to the market due to concerns about the risk of copyrighted content being included in the created songs.
According to a recent survey, around 1% of MusicLM compositions repeat the works on which the system was trained. MusicLM was trained on a 280,000-hour music dataset, enabling it to generate cohesive songs with descriptions of “significant complexity,” such as “charming jazz song with catchy saxophone solo and solo singer” or “90s Berlin techno with low bass and strong drums.” MusicLM-generated songs sound similar to human-composed songs, although they may not be as inventive or musically cohesive.
One of MusicLM’s defining properties is its ability to build on existing melodies, whether hummed, sung, whistled, or played on an instrument. Furthermore, MusicLM can take numerous descriptions provided in sequence and generate a melodic “story” or narrative lasting up to several minutes, making it ideal for a movie soundtrack.
MusicLM is undoubtedly excellent, but it is not without flaws. The distorted quality of some samples is an unavoidable drawback of the training process. Furthermore, while MusicLM can generate vocals, including choir harmonies, it has much to be desired. Most of the “lyrics” range from barely English to pure gibberish and are performed by artificial voices that sound like mash-ups of other singers.
Despite its limitations, the Google researchers admit the various ethical challenges posed by a system like MusicLM, including the possibility of creative content misappropriation. They stress the importance of future efforts in addressing the dangers connected with music generation.
Assuming MusicLM or a similar system becomes accessible in the future, huge legal concerns seem unavoidable, even if the systems are positioned as tools to aid musicians rather than replace them. As AI technology evolves, it is evident that its usage’s legal and ethical consequences will need to be carefully evaluated.