Welcome to the future. Every day, the music industry inches closer to making Miley Cyrus’s Black Mirror episode a reality. In today’s news of tomorrow, avant-garde composer Holly Herndon announces the release of her AI “digital twin” Holly+, a custom voice instrument. Anyone can upload polyphonic audio to a website by AI-music start-up Never Before Heard Sounds and receive a download of that music sung in Herndon’s own voice. “Vocal deepfakes are here to stay,” Herndon says in a press release. “A balance needs to be found between protecting artists, and encouraging people to experiment with a new and exciting technology. That is why we are running this experiment in communal voice ownership. The voice is inherently communal, learned through mimesis and language, and interpreted through individuals. In stepping in front of a complicated issue, we think we have found a way to allow people to perform through my voice, reduce confusion by establishing official approval, and invite everyone to benefit from the proceeds generated from its use.”
The IP for Holly+ will be owned by a decentralized autonomous organization co-op, and profits generated will be used to fund new tool development. The Berlin-based experimental artist, who received her Ph.D. in machine learning and music from Stanford in 2019, made her most recent album, PROTO, in collaboration with her “AI child,” Spawn, whom she created over the course of three years. The future is low-key a bop.