Only the human creators who contributed to a song can be nominated and win a Grammy award, according to an updated set of rules announced last month for the upcoming 2024 awards cycle. But a winning submission can still use AI, the award show's CEO emphasized in a new interview.
“If there's an AI voice singing the song or AI instrumentation, we'll consider it. But in a songwriting-based category, it has to have been written mostly by a human. Same goes for performance categories—only a human performer can be considered for a Grammy,” Mason Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said in an interview with Grammy.com when the new rules were announced. A work that contains no human authorship is not eligible at all.
"Here's the super easy, headline statement: AI, or music that contains AI-created elements is absolutely eligible for entry and for consideration for Grammy nomination," Mason said to The Associated Press in a new interview on July 4. "Period."
“As long as the human is contributing in a more than de minimis amount, which to us means a meaningful way, they are and will always be considered for a nomination or a win,” Mason said. “We don’t want to see technology replace human creativity. We want to make sure technology is enhancing, embellishing, or additive to human creativity. So that’s why we took this particular stand in this award cycle.”
In practice, this could mean that a song that only used AI to generate the lead vocals could be eligible in the songwriting category, Mason explained.
Mason said the reason behind the new rule is that AI will unequivocally shape the future of the music industry. In the past few months, AI music has exponentially risen in popularity with the advancement in and easier access to AI tools, including voice models. For example, an AI-generated Drake song featuring The Weeknd called “Heart on My Sleeve” quickly became viral on TikTok and gained millions of views. There is also a growing Discord community dedicated to AI music hobbyists, who wrote and produced the first AI album using a clone of Travis Scott’s vocals. In June, Paul McCartney was able to use AI to create what he called “the final Beatles record,” that took John Lennon’s voice from an old demo.
The question of whether or not using someone’s voice using AI violates copyrights has divided many music professionals. Universal Music Group (UMG) has been notably vocal against AI music, calling “Heart of My Sleeve” an instance that harmed their artists. In March, UMG told Spotify and Apple to block AI apps from taking melodies and lyrics from their copyrighted music. However, in May, UMG announced its plan to use proprietary AI models to create new music and new versions of old music. “The partnership will always respect creators’ rights and put artists at the center of the creative process,” their press release stated.
According to Mason, the new rule was established following a summit with industry leaders, streaming platforms, and tech entrepreneurs, and after discussing with the U.S. copyright office.