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  • Writer's pictureRohan Paul

How to protect your singing voice from being trained on by AI

You may have stumbled across an influx of songs featuring AI Drake, AI Weeknd, AI Kanye, AI Rihanna, AI Ariana, and many other artists. Maybe you saw a cover of AI Rihanna singing a Drake song, or AI Michael Jackson covering a Weeknd track. We won't share them here because they are unworthy of attention or recognition. The people dropping illegal AI tracks are not the ones who created this technology and are violating the terms that researchers explicitly defined.

We're only in the beginning phases of what many are calling "The New Napster Era". UMG and other labels have acted swiftly in issuing takedowns for these AI tracks but the future for singers remains unclear. Will artists embrace this new technology to create new revenue streams? Or will new underground streaming apps emerge to distribute this innovative and illegal catalog of AI music?

How does AI singing work?

AI voice thieves are creating fraudulent songs by abusing a research technology known as "Singer Voice Conversion" to steal voices from singers. This technology allows anyone to take 10 minutes of vocals and recreate an AI model of that voice. Once they have your voice model, they can use any reference audio such as acapellas from other tracks or even their own vocal recordings, to recreate them in your voice.

Where do they get my voice?

Even if you never release an acapella. AI voice thieves get your acapellas by stem-splitting tracks with various online services and open source algorithms like demucs and spleeter. The important caveat here is that they need single layer vocals of your voice. Anything with harmonies, or lots of layers will not work as well.

Is this legal?

No. There are many rumors claiming that voices are not covered under current copyright law. In practice, however, they are protected under someone's Right to Publicity. Using an AI voice of another artist is, ethically and legally-speaking, the same as stealing their voice. We can't compare it to impersonators because the technology is recreating a person's voice with extreme accuracy, such that AI vocals are nearly indistinguishable from the real voice.

How you can stop them (for now)

In order to train and reference your vocals, they need single layer vocals. You can make this more difficult for them to extract by:

  • Layering complex harmonies

  • Adding ad-libs

  • Adding extreme FX like reverb, modulation, echos, etc.

If you believe your voice is being misused, reach out to us for help pinpointing takedowns at scale.

Should you stop them?

In the near future, it may become impossible to prevent vocal theft. We believe you should get ahead of this technology by using it to create, protect and monetize your own voice.

Similar to the Napster era, once people have access to this technology, there's no way for us to stop them without heavy regulation and litigation. The difference now is that people are no longer stealing what you created, they're stealing a piece of you - your voice. We believe all artists should have control over when, where, and how their AI voices are used. Despite being extremely unethical, the usage of celebrity voices in covers, remixes, and mashups has clear demand from fans. We're creating an ecosystem for this new remix culture to thrive while letting artists decide whether they want to embrace it. For artists that aren't ready, we still believe you deserve a choice in how your voice is used and we have the technology to help track and takedown unauthorized uses of your AI voice.

What about laws and regulation?

We believe the laws need two main changes:

  • Explicit Copyright protection of a person's real voice (including their AI voice)

  • A new "Voice Royalty" class such that artists and compensated for usage of their AI voice in derivative works

We can't control what laws get passed, but we can share our wealth of knowledge and help you create, protect, and monetize your AI voice in the meantime.

How can we use AI singing voices ethically?

Whether it's creating multilingual versions of your song, hearing demo tracks submitted from songwriters in your own voice, or collaborating with fans at scale, there's tons of ethical ways to monetize your AI voice while directly engaging with fans on a deeper level. It's time for artists to take back control of the next generation of music.

At Controlla, we do NOT and have NEVER trained models on celebrity singers, or anyone pursuing music, without explicit permission. We believe all artists should have the choice and power to create, protect, and monetize their own voice.

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