Lucian Grainge Isn’t Mincing Words on AI Music — Reaffirms ‘One Thousand Percent’ Commitment to Defending IP, Name, Likeness, and Use of Voice

Lucian Grainge reaffirms commitment to protecting rights of likeness AI Music
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Lucian Grainge reaffirms commitment to protecting rights of likeness AI Music
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Photo Credit: Luke Harold

In a new interview and profile with the Los Angeles Times, UMG CEO Lucian Grainge has reaffirmed his commitment to protecting artists in a new era of AI generation. Grainge says he likes change and sees the use for AI in the industry—but artists’ rights must be protected too.

Grainge says the advent of AI technology has reached a point where Universal Music must “be completely at the epicenter of its application. An example he uses is the Beatles’ 2023 single “Now and Then” which used AI to isolate and clean up an old recording of John Lennon singing. “It’s a brilliant song—great lyrics, fabulous performance, incredibly emotive—that unless we’d had AI to individualize different recordings, would have never come to light, “Grainge told the L.A. Times.

But he’s quick to add a caveat here after praising the use of AI to bring an old work-in-progress to a finished state. “Do I believe in copyright and intellectual property and name and likeness and use of voice? One thousand percent.” Grainge says he’s against the notion that anyone can do anything with someone’s work. “I can’t tell you how much I am against that,” he says. Solving the problem means finding the path to monetization—which he sees as an industry failure with Napster.

Finding the balance between embracing AI and stopping it from consuming the industry is a delicate balance. It’s why Grainge has embraced YouTube’s AI incubator—a set of principles that include technological progress but also a commitment to fair compensation for both artists and rights holders.

It’s something that Tennessee’s ELVIS Act aims to address by enshrining an artists’ name, image, and likeness protections from generative AI cloning models that create unauthorized fake works in the voice and image of others. The Act extends these protections to voice actors, podcasters, or anyone else who relies on their voice for their livelihood.

The only problem is that for now, it protects residents of Tennessee only. Could the ELVIS Act become the basis for a federal law surrounding the protection of name, image, likeness, and voice? Potentially, but likely more states will move in the direction that Tennessee has gone, enshrining these rights on a state-by-state basis first. So far, Kentucky, Illinois, California, and Louisiana are states with similar bills focused on protecting voice from AI cloning. Meanwhile, the NO FAKES Act of 2023 was announced in the Senate.