Spotify’s Stance on AI-Made Music and the Impact on the Music Industry

In a recent statement, the boss of Spotify, Daniel Ek, confirmed that the company has no intention to ban content created by artificial intelligence (AI) from its music streaming platform. This decision comes after Spotify pulled a track featuring AI-cloned voices of popular performers Drake and The Weeknd earlier this year. While acknowledging the valid uses of AI in music creation, Ek emphasized the importance of obtaining consent from human artists before using AI to impersonate them. He speculated that the debate surrounding the use of AI in music is likely to continue for many years.

Ek categorized the use of AI in music into three “buckets,” acknowledging its complexities and challenges faced by the industry. Although Spotify does not ban all forms of AI on its platform, the company strictly prohibits the use of its content to train machine learning or AI models that can produce music. This move aligns with the rising concern voiced by artists who are increasingly skeptical about the role of AI in creative industries. Recently, Irish musician Hozier expressed his concerns about the threat of AI to his profession, questioning whether it truly meets the definition of art.

The removal of the track “Heart on My Sleeve,” which featured cloned voices of Drake and The Weeknd, highlighted the need for stronger measures against AI-driven impersonations of artists. The track was taken down from Spotify and other streaming platforms in April, and its creator, Ghostwriter, attempted to have it nominated for a Grammy award but was unsuccessful.

Daniel Ek discussed the ongoing challenges faced by Spotify in ensuring the authenticity of artists’ identities on the platform. He mentioned instances of users attempting to upload songs claiming to be well-known artists without their consent, stating that the company has a dedicated team working on such issues. Spotify’s diligence in combating fraudulent activities has become crucial as the platform has seen cases of bots being used to artificially inflate streaming figures.

In addition to addressing AI-related concerns, Ek also talked about Spotify’s significant investment in podcasts, including high-profile figures such as Michelle and Barack Obama and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. However, he confirmed that neither podcast series has been re-commissioned after the initial investment, raising questions about the return on investment for such high-cost deals. Ek admitted that, despite some successes, not all of Spotify’s ventures into podcasting have yielded favorable results.

The interview with Daniel Ek also touched on Spotify’s relationship with Apple and Google, particularly their app store policies. Ek criticized the commission rates imposed by the tech giants, highlighting Spotify’s struggles to communicate directly with customers and promote its services on these platforms. He expressed concern over the duopoly’s control of internet access for billions of consumers. Spotify has been vocal about its opposition to the commission rates, with Ek suggesting that eliminating the 30% cut imposed by Apple could force Spotify to shut down.

Spotify’s concerns regarding Apple’s app store practices led to a complaint to the European Commission in 2020. The European Commission then charged Apple with breaking EU competition rules. While the European Commission scaled back its objections against Apple in February, the final ruling is still pending. Apple responded by stating that the majority of European developers fall under the $1 million revenue threshold and pay a lower commission rate of 15%.

In summary, Spotify’s decision not to ban AI-made music on its platform underscores the complexity of AI’s role in the music industry. The company acknowledges the valid applications of AI but emphasizes the need for artists’ consent to prevent unauthorized impersonations. Spotify’s dedication to combating fraudulent activities and maintaining the authenticity of artists’ identities demonstrates its commitment to creating a fair and transparent platform. Additionally, Ek’s comments on the challenges faced in podcasting and app store policies shed light on Spotify’s ongoing efforts to navigate a rapidly evolving digital landscape.