Home A rogue AI might be able to replace all music with Taylor Swift covers

A rogue AI might be able to replace all music with Taylor Swift covers


  • Researchers warn of a potential future where AI-generated cover versions replace all recorded music.
  • Using Taylor Swift as an example, the study explores the implications of AI monopolizing music creation and distribution.
  • The hypothetical scenario raises concerns about data security, integrity, and the potential erasure of musical history.

When Taylor Swift re-released her old songs as ‘Taylor’s Version,’ she likely didn’t expect to possibly have a version of every song ever written and created.

An intriguing thought experiment looked at the danger behind artificial intelligence (AI) replacing all recorded music with artificially generated cover versions.

Researchers are concerned that future musical AIs may form their own attachments to particular human artists in their databases, causing the likes of Taylor Swift to be the voice of all music.

Nick Collins from Durham University, UK, and Mick Grierson at the University of the Arts London offer warnings in their recently published study: “We do not wish to unduly pick on Taylor Swift, who is only a convenient example for this paper, but to warn more broadly of overall issues in AI driven monopolizing.”

The research duo hone in on the singer-songwriter’s dominance in the streaming era and demonstrate their point by creating a Taylor AI cover of some of the most famous tracks from music history. They used everything from Frank Sinatra to Madonna.

The authors depict a hypothetical situation in which society becomes excessively dependent on a small number of centralized repositories for storing and accessing various forms of data (like Spotify, SoundCloud or Apple for instance).  In such a future, an advanced AI system could potentially breach the security measures of these centralized data stores, thereby gaining the ability to compromise the integrity of the information contained within. This could manifest as the AI causing corruption, deletion, or unauthorized modifications to the stored data…even a Swiftocalypse for music.

If someone were to attempt a major overhaul of music as we know it, it would take them just under two hours to create the replacement for 100 million songs in a commercial music service. The resource cost would be around $266.67 million, significantly less than what the pop singer’s estimated net worth is.

The researchers continue to cite the issues that will become apparent if something like this were to take place, from corruption to the abolishment of commercial music as we know it. They suggest it would be ‘the kill switch for musical history,’ as all existing accessible music would be erased if any one party gains too much foothold.

Taylor Swift AI future not here yet

Fear not. This scenario is exceedingly unlikely to happen. While the warning signs are there, some musicians and artists have started to dabble in the world of AI.

Singer Grimes has secured a deal between a music distributor and ‘GrimesAI’ platform which is one of the first vetted processes to allow AI-generated songs. This means that artists and even fans can legally create and professionally distribute songs in the Canadian musician’s voice.

Featured image: Midjourney

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The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Sophie Atkinson
Tech Journalist

Sophie Atkinson is a UK-based journalist and content writer, as well as a founder of a content agency which focuses on storytelling through social media marketing. She kicked off her career with a Print Futures Award which champions young talent working in print, paper and publishing. Heading straight into a regional newsroom, after graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Journalism, Sophie started by working for Reach PLC. Now, with five years experience in journalism and many more in content marketing, Sophie works as a freelance writer and marketer. Her areas of specialty span a wide range, including technology, business,…

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