Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow says she is “really scared” of artificial intelligence (AI) being used in the entertainment industry.
The “All I Wanna Do” singer appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on November 2 and discussed one of the tracks on her latest album, Evolution, in which she expresses her worries that AI will seriously hurt music.
“It’s been so disturbing to me,” the singer told Fallon as she described her recent brush with the technology.
“I did a session the other day, and this young songwriter had this incredible song, but she needed a guy to sing on it so that she could pitch it to male singers in Nashville,” Crow explained.
She went on to say that her associate “Paid $5, put in John Mayer’s name, and she played it for me. There’s no way you could tell the difference, and it just blew my mind. And it didn’t just sound like him,” she said adding that even Mayer’s “inflections” came through with the recording.
“This is what AI can do, and it really scared me.”
“For me, art is like soul, it’s attached to the soul. So when you get into something that’s so much more advanced than our brains are at this point, it takes the soul out of it, you know, and it’s scary,” she said.
Crow briefly referenced the Beatles new single, “Now and Then,” which was created with the assistance of new tech that helped recording technicians clean up an old cassette tape of a John Lennon demo so the two remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, could finish the song by adding themselves and previously recorded tracks by deceased bandmate George Harrison into the mix.
The Lennon cassette tape was part of an experiment back in 1996 when the then three remaining Beatles tried to use the demo tape of Lennon’s “Now and Then” to make a new Beatles song. The trio tried to record new parts of the song, but ultimately the recording tech in 1996 was not up to the task of separating Lennon’s voice from the background noise and the piano playing. The three Beatles soon abandoned the project.
However, in 2023. AI helped McCartney and Starr clean up and separate the sounds on the demo recorded in the mid 1970s so that they could finish the song.
This relatively benign use of AI, though, is a far cry from how many artists fear it can and will be used.
Several music publishers including Universal Music have already taken action when they sued artificial intelligence startup Anthropic, accusing it of unlawfully using copyrighted song lyrics from artists ranging from Beyonce to Don McLean to enhance its chatbot technology.
In May, Streaming giant Spotify rushed to remove thousands of AI-generated songs amid fraud concerns as artists began raising the alarm that their work and sound had been hijacked without permission.
And prominent Hollywood film directors including James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, and Tim Burton have all spoken up to condemn AIor issue dire prognostications about the ill effects of the technology.