Artificial intelligence having seismic impact on music and entertainment industry

In 1995, archeologists made a monumental discovery buried in a frozen cave in the Netherlands: an archaic instrument called the Divje flute. It reportedly sat there for 60,000 years before it was found.

Its age is a testament to the longevity of music - as well as the universal language it speaks. Now on the cusp of a new technology in artificial intelligence, we may be seeing that language go through another major pivot in a way it hasn't ever experienced before. 

Harry Styles singing Teenage Dream by Katy Perry? Freddie Mercury singing I will Survive by Gloria Gaynor? Both of these are manifestations of people using A.I. to pair one's voice with another's song. 

And then there's President Joe Biden's voice rapping. That, also, did not actually happen. But with A.I., it sounds as real as if it had occurred. 

The line between real and artificial is starting to blur, and that's disrupting the industry.

"You submit a vocal track and you apply a data set, which is basically a bunch of files of a certain artist," said Jared Chavez, a junior at the University of South Florida. He's become a viral sensation for some of his A.I.-inspired creations.

The A.I. will learn the artist's voice, and then it will try to guess how to take the audio track you gave it and create a sound as if the artist would be saying it. 

The most obvious example of this was when a brand new song by Drake and the Weeknd dropped online and almost breached the Billboard charts before both artists said neither had been a part of the production.

It was all A.I. that had created the track, which brought Universal Music Group out to demand it be taken off the Internet. The ethical and legal implications could not be bigger.

"The record label has rights to say. If you're going to create what's known as a derivative work, you have to get our consent and the artists consent," said Craig Averill, an entertainment attorney.

Averill points to lingering questions about who would hold the copyright when the work isn't created by a human. And it's a question that will likely involve courts in the future.

"It's going to be very fact specific, and the courts will have to weigh in because this is such a new emerging technology," said Averill.

This new world presents pitfalls for performers and producers as well. 

"(It's) crazy. It's crazy. It's scary," said Michael Martenson. "I've seen songs that sound like Drake saying the most ridiculous lyrics, and then you have somebody like Drake coming out being like, I didn't record this song. 

"So you're now having to start defending yourself against a program that's like pulling your voice."

Martenson, who works as a musician from his home studio in Trenton. He's been writing and playing music for years as both a professional music producer and a rock star himself. His band Boys of Fall is a hometown favorite in Michigan. 

He looks at the coming wave of technology in his field with skepticism. A.I. could one day write an entire song, which presents the artist with big questions about how they utilize the technology in their own craft.

"It's going to be a to-each-their-own type of thing because there are what some people call like musicians and artists where it's like they take a lot of pride in their craft," he said. "But then there's other people who don't necessarily care about that. They want what's hot, they want what's trendy, they want it fast because people's attention spans are so short now that they don't care if it's like if a program created it."

Some experts looking at the field don't view A.I. with the doom and gloom of some eyeing the future landscapes it will touch.

For Joe Tavares, who studies the field, that's one of its biggest misconceptions.

"Human ingenuity and just the way we experience the world is difficult to replicate," he said. "These language models, they have no concept of what it is to be a human. So there's always going to be the need for individuals to kind of collaborate with them to put a human touch on it."

Some artists like the singer Grimes is embracing the new revolution. She recently released a song with an A.I. version of her voice. But this technique then invites worries of A.I. mimicking artists too perfectly, which could put some people one step away from theft.

"There's also a big danger in A.I. which has to be recognized, and that's apparent with people using AI and AI platforms to steal the voices of artists, to steal the images of artists, to create something," said Mitch Glazier, Recording Industry Association of America CEO. "That's an expression that's not the artist's expression."

One thing A.I. may not be able to replicate, however, is the bond that fans and their favorite artists share. That's a fact that Martenson continues to relish."

People like it a connection when they go to live music. It's just like it's a feeling that you don't get anywhere else. That's why people pay tons of money to go see their favorite artist in concert that I don't feel like is ever going to be replaced," he said.

And there's no simulating that.