AI Generated image of grimes

Grimes’ New AI App Allows You To Use Her Voice To Make Your Own Music… But There’s a Catch

by Carmella D'Acquisto

(Note the above image was generated by feeding the headline of this article into Canva’s AI text-to-image generator)

In a not-so-surprising turn of events, futuristic synth-pop musician and Elon Musk’s ex, Grimes, is releasing an AI-powered music app. In a string of tweets, the self-proclaimed “A.I. Popstar for the Martian Ministry of Propaganda,” unveiled new software called Elf.Tech, where users can create songs using her voice. The songs that users make are completely “without penalty” and are safe for commercial use.  

The singer, who just parted ways with her label, Columbia Records, said “I’ll split 50% royalties on any successful AI generated song that uses my voice,” in a tweet. “Same deal as I would with any artist I collab with. Feel free to use my voice without penalty.  I have no label and no legal bindings.”

Elf.Tech was released following the controversial viral AI-generated song,
Heart on My Sleeve that featured the voices of The Weeknd and Drake. Though the song was taken off streaming platforms, the issue still lingers: How is AI-generated art going to be regulated? Who owns the copyright? Who owns the IP? How can you stop a speeding train? 

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Several artists have come out against the use of AI-generated art, stating that the works, whether they be videos, voice clips, songs, illustrations, etc, are created using an amalgamation of existing artwork that were utilized without permission or compensation. Not only are these works created using unpaid art, they also create works in a real person’s likeness, profiting off of an actual human being without being legally obligated to compensate that person. 


Grimes, however, is trying to get ahead of the machine through this new app. “I think it’s cool to be fused with a machine and I like the idea of open sourcing all art and killing copyright,” said Grimes in a tweet. “I’m just curious what even happens and interested in being a guinea pig.” 

Though copyright and compensation may not be a big concern for Grimes, it doesn’t mean that this technology won’t rob working artists of their likeness, and in ways, their autonomy. Cherie Hu, Founder of Water & Music, told Complex Magazine, “The concept at the core of why creative AI could be so disruptive is that the friction between having an idea, and manifesting that idea in the form of a creative work, has essentially gone down to zero. Barriers in distributing music have already been collapsing, with anyone now able to list their music on streaming services for free. To see the same barriers collapsing in the creative process means that the playing field of who can be an “artist,” in the sense of being an active participant in the music economy, will continue to increase dramatically.”

Elf.Tech users can either record directly in the app, or upload audio that will then be fused with Grimes’ likeness. The file can be registered with Grimes as the main, secondary, or a featured artist. Each AI-generated song that features her voice will ensure she has 50% royalty splits of the master recording, that can be released on platforms or used in commercial use, such as in a television show or commercial. 

Alongside Elf.Tech’s launch, Grimes announced two new AI-themed songs, “Music For Machines” and “I Wanna Be Software,” that will be released in the near future. And while the musician may be embracing the way of the machines, we’re not yet convinced. 

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