Beyoncé's New Album 'Cowboy Carter' Ad Against AI Music | Tech Crunch

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Beyoncé's “Cowboy Carter” has only been out for a few days, but it's already clear that we'll be talking about it for years to come — it's breaking records on streaming platforms, and the artist herself called it “the best music (she) ever made. But the press release for “Cowboy Carter” In between, Beyoncé made an unexpected statement against the growing presence of AI in music.

“The joy of creating music is that there are no rules,” says Beyoncé. “The more I see the world evolve, the more I have a deep connection to purity. With artificial intelligence and digital filters and programming, I want to go back to real tools.

Beyoncé rarely does interviews, making every comment she makes about the new album more important — the comments are one of the few jumping-off points that help fans puzzle out each element of the album and how it all fits together. So her stance on AI isn't just a comment made in conversation with a reporter. This is intentional.

A central backlash against AI-generated art comes from the way this technology works. AI-powered music generators can Create new tracks In minutes and imitating artists' voices a Terribly convincing Degree. In some cases, AI can replace artists' jobs as they are trained on their work.

Both large language models and diffusion models require extensive databases of text, images, and sounds to create AI-generated tasks. Some well-known AI companies, such as Open AI and Stability AI, use datasets containing copyrighted artwork without consent. While Stability AI's music model is trained on licensed stock music, that's not the case with the company's image generator, Stable Diffusion. Audio Ed Newton-Rex is VP of Stability AI He quit his job About this, because he “(doesn't) agree with the company's view that training generative AI models on copyrighted works is 'fair use'.”

It's no wonder artists like Beyoncé have strong feelings about the technology — many AI models are trained on artists' work without their permission, and especially for budding musicians who don't have the power to cheer them on, it's even harder. Enter an already brutal industry. Beyoncé's attitude makes more sense in the context of “Cowboy Carter.”

Although it doesn't explicitly discuss AI, “Cowboy Carter” already mentions the theft and appropriation of artworks without consent. On the album itself, Beyoncé gives listeners a history lesson about how black musicians formed the foundation of country music, which is too often thought of as a representation of southern white culture.

Even the title “Cowboy Carter” endorsed the use of black music for white profit. While “Carter” could refer to Beyoncé's married name, it's also a nod to the Carters, the “first family” of country music — and those Carters who developed the genre we now know as country, the work of black musicians, which was being excluded. Black artists (most recently, an Oklahoma country radio station recently refused a listener's request to play Beyoncé's “Texas Hold 'Em” because Beyoncé didn't fit their definition of a country artist). Beyoncé's random stance against AI exposes this same truth: Once again, artists' work is being stolen without their permission and without payment or credit for their cultural contributions.

The album includes moments when ninety-year-old country icon Willie Nelson appears on a radio show called “Smoke Hour” and its first appearance precedes “Texas Hold 'Em.” The track's placement took on extra meaning in light of the Oklahoma radio incident, and Nelson chimed in a bit: “Now for this next tune, I want you all to sit back, take a breath, and move on. Let your mind wander. And if you don't want to go, find yourself a jukebox.

It's Beyoncé's world: the jukebox and the radio are back in style, black musicians can make whatever music they want and nobody's art can be stolen.

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