Recording Academy CEO Attempts to Clarify Grammys AI Rules — Under Which the Upcoming ‘Last Beatles Record’ Might Not Be Eligible for Awards

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Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr.

Weeks after the Grammys officially barred certain artificial intelligence works from securing awards, Recording Academy head Harvey Mason Jr. has attempted to clarify the AI rules at hand.

The Recording Academy unveiled a number of rule changes – chief among them the artificial intelligence guidelines – in mid-June. Needless to say, given the far-reaching creative implications of AI, which is being used to make original music, power unauthorized soundalike tracks, and more, there was much to consider when defining the corresponding eligibility requirements for the Grammys.

Consequently, though the main stipulation – “A work that contains no human authorship is not eligible in any Categories” – proved clear enough, some raised questions about the remainder of the Grammys’ AI policies, extending to efforts that incorporate AI, and the inherent subjectivity thereof.

“The human authorship component of the work submitted must be meaningful and more than de minimis,” reads one line from the relevant portion of the AI rules, with “de minimis” defined in this instance “as lacking significance or importance; so minor as to merit disregard.”

Harvey Mason Jr. promptly “chatted with” to elaborate upon the point (and the other rule changes), signaling that “we are going to allow AI music and content to be submitted” while issuing awards only “to human creators who have contributed creatively in the appropriate categories.”

“If there’s an AI voice singing the song or AI instrumentation,” explained Mason Jr., “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.”

Now, as initially mentioned, the Recording Academy CEO has expanded upon the rules and the latter remarks in a new AP interview, communicating that a track featuring AI vocals (and human authors, however) would be eligible for songwriting Grammys but not performance awards.

“Conversely, if a song was sung by an actual human in the studio, and they did all the performing, but AI wrote the lyric or the track, the song would not be eligible in a composition or a songwriting category,” he indicated. “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.”

Interestingly – and in keeping with the above-highlighted potential for subjectivity regarding “de minimis” judgements – Mason Jr. gave a noncommittal answer when asked whether the forthcoming “last Beatles record” will be eligible for Grammys despite reportedly using AI to recreate John Lennon’s voice.

“We’ll see what it turns out to be,” relayed Mason Jr. “But I would imagine from the early descriptions that I’ve heard there would be components of the creation that would be absolutely eligible.”

The 66th Grammys nominations are scheduled to be announced on Friday, November 10th, with the ceremony set to take place in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 4th.