Paul McCartney backtracks on AI use in last Beatles song

McCartney tweeted: “nothing has been artificially or synthetically created.”
Sejal Sharma
Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney

Wikimedia Commons 

Legendary singer-musician Paul McCartney has backtracked on a statement he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that a final Beatles song is being created with the help of artificial intelligence and will be released this year.

In a tweet yesterday, Sir McCartney said, "Nothing has been artificially or synthetically created.”

Clearing ‘speculation’ and ‘confusion’ around the use of AI in the upcoming song, he added, “It’s all real, and we all play on it. We cleaned up some existing recordings - a process which has gone on for years.”

But the statement gives birth to more confusion because, in the BBC interview, he said that they were able to take John Lennon’s voice and “get it pure through this AI. So, then we could mix the record as you would normally do.” Lennon was assassinated in 1980 in New York.

From what can be gathered from both his statements is that AI was used to merely separate Lennon’s vocal tracks from background noise, but not to create new material. 

Speculation over a new song

McCartney did not reveal which song is being cleaned up, but it is speculated that it’s the 1978 Lennon composition ‘Now And Then.’

Sources told Variety that the song was a demo recorded during the late 1970s that Yoko Ono, Lennon's partner, had sent to the surviving Beatles artists in the 1990s.

Hardcore Beatles fans have responded with much excitement and ‘can’t wait’ comments on McCartney’s tweet. But it’s also understandable why McCartney would put out a statement to clarify. The music industry has been dealing with the pressures of AI, which largely has been a divisive topic.

Impact of AI on the music industry

Scores of AI-generated songs which were mooching money off people were removed by Spotify. Shortly before this, Spotify and other music streaming services also had to remove a fake AI-generated song uploaded by an anonymous user who claimed the song was sung by The Weeknd and Drake.

Spotify said, "Artificial streaming is a longstanding, industry-wide issue that Spotify is working to stamp out across our service," reported Interesting Engineering.

In the BBC interview, McCartney echoed the concerns, saying that while AI gives the music industry some leeway, it’s also exciting because it’s the future. “So there’s a good side to it, and then there’s a scary side. And we’ll just have to see where that leads.”

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