Paul McCartney Reveals AI’s Contribution to Forthcoming ‘Last Beatles Record’: ‘There’s a Good Side to It and Then a Scary Side’

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Photo Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius / CC by 3.0

Paul McCartney has revealed that a forthcoming final release from The Beatles will feature an AI depiction of John Lennon’s voice.

The 80-year-old disclosed the AI usage – and his view of the unprecedented technology’s creative impact – during a recent BBC interview promoting 1964: Eyes of the Storm. Available to readers as of today, the photobook per its official description includes 275 images “taken with a 35mm camera by Paul McCartney” between late 1963 and early 1964.

Back to the AI side, the 18-time Grammy winner described third-party efforts to create unauthorized Beatles tracks – a number of AI-powered soundalike songs are continuing to make waves on YouTube and elsewhere – as “very interesting.”

“Well, it’s a very interesting thing,” McCartney said. “It’s something we’re all sort of tackling at the moment, you know, and trying to deal with – what’s it mean, you know? I don’t hear that much, because I’m not on the internet that much. But people will say to me, ‘Oh, yeah, there’s a track where,’ you know, John’s singing one of my songs. And it isn’t; it’s just AI, you know?”

Notwithstanding the potential pitfalls (especially for emerging acts without millions of monthly listeners) of allegedly infringing AI tracks, though, the music legend touched upon some of the technology’s possible benefits – and highlighted AI’s role in 2021’s Get Back docuseries as well as the initially mentioned “last Beatles record.”

“So all of that is kind of scary – but exciting because it’s the future. And we were able to use that kind of thing when Peter Jackson did the film Get Back, where it was us making the Let It Be album. And he was able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette where it had John’s voice and a piano.

“It has great uses. So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles record, it was a demo that John had that we worked on. And we’ve just finished it up; it’ll be released this year. We were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI so then we could mix the record as you would normally do.”

Ultimately, despite the much-publicized warnings about and criticism of AI from others in the music sphere, McCartney expressed the belief that the technology will deliver positives and drawbacks alike in the approaching years.

“It gives you some sort of leeway. So there’s a good side to it and then a scary side. We’ll just have to see where that leads,” concluded McCartney.

Last month, Sting predicted an AI-related “battle” over “the building blocks of music,” and yesterday, Believe’s TuneCore unveiled plans to vet and distribute tracks featuring Grimes AI.