Silence of the AI ​​in the sounds of ‘SpongeBob’ and dedicated music by a secret artist named Glorb

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First, the YouTube videos look like scenes from Nickelodeon’s popular “SpongeBob SquarePants” cartoon.

SpongeBob, the title cheerful yellow character, appears outside his pineapple-shaped house, while SpongeBob’s cranky boss, Mr. Krabs, is at the Krusty Krab restaurant he runs. But unlike the show, the characters in the videos aren’t singing upbeat songs about life in the underwater city of Bikini Bottom. Instead, they’re rapping about drugs and guns.

The mastermind behind the raps is an artist named Glorub. His music, which has been streamed millions of times on Spotify and YouTube, appears to mimic the voices of famous characters using artificial intelligence.

As AI tools continue to rapidly evolve, it’s become easier for artists like Glorb to create music using generative AI — and become successful in their own right. However, experts focusing on AI and music said questions of copyright and ownership still persist as the music industry ushers in a new era of technology.

“It opens up a lot of possibilities for someone to, you know, basically have a fan fiction version of a song because they love the artist,” said Josh Antoniocchio, an associate professor and director. School of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University Scripps College of Communication.

SpongeBob-inspired tracks have turned Glorb — who keeps his identity anonymous — into an online sensation. On Spotify, Glorb averages just under a million listeners a month — his most popular song, “The Bottom 2,” has amassed more than 11 million streams. The artist’s music videos, featuring character models from the show, have also garnered millions of views on YouTube.

A SpongeBob character model appears in Glorb’s music video for “EUGENE”, animated by ThrillDaWill.Glorb / ThrillDaWill via YouTube

Glover, who declined to be interviewed, is not publicly affiliated with Nickelodeon. A spokesman for the Paramount-owned network did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Representatives for YouTube and Spotify also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The music industry could see an influx of artists who use some form of AI, especially as technology advances, said Tracy Chen, CEO of Splash, a creative AI music company. Already, creative AI music programs like Suno, which allow users to input cues and create songs based on text suggestions, have been hailed as music chatbots.

“I think it’s important that we figure out how to both, as an industry… how do you balance that we’re creating more and more content, which is ultimately good, but also kind of People are also being awarded, you know, a kind of source material, so to speak,” Chen said.

Glorb isn’t the first to use the technology to create original music. In some cases, major artists have been involved in AI renderings of their work.

In June, Paul McCartney announced that The Beatles would release a final record, “Now and Then,” using AI technology to reproduce the voice of the late John Lennon. Singer Grimes, a champion of AI, released, a platform on which artists can use AI imitations of Grimes’ voice in their music. The terms of the deal include Grimes getting a share of royalties from any music that features an AI version of her voice.

But in other cases, AI-generated music using artists’ work has raised some concerns from people in the music industry.

In April 2023, an artist named Ghostwriter went viral for the track “Heart on My Sleeve” which used AI voice imitations of rapper Drake and singer The Weeknd. The song was quickly removed from multiple platforms, including YouTube, where a message read: “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Universal Music Group.”

Shortly before the Ghostwriter song circulated online, UMG (which is not related to NBC News’ parent company NBCUniversal) urged streaming services to stop using copyrighted music to train their AI programs. Prohibit from

“We have a moral and commercial obligation to our artists to work to prevent unauthorized use of their music and to prevent platforms from posting content that infringes on the rights of artists and other creators. is,” UMG, considered one of the so-called The Big Three global music companies said in a statement to the Financial Times. “We expect our platform partners to want to prevent their services from being used in ways that harm artists.”

Part of the problem stems from the fact that music streaming platforms have few tools to detect and track how much AI music is on their apps, Chen said.

There’s a very creative remix culture that we’re just starting to tap into.

— Josh Antonuccio, director of the School of Media Arts and Studies at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication

He compared traditionally created music to a fingerprint—streaming platforms can compare other songs to that fingerprint, and when they find a track that matches it, he predicts an upload. can and can remove it if necessary. AI-generated music doesn’t have that fictitious fingerprint. Hence, it is very difficult to track and remove.

Chen said that because there is limited technology to track AI music uploaded to various platforms, it is difficult to know how much of it exists.

“You have to believe it’s there, but, again, is it reaching mass consumption? Probably not yet,” he said. “Because once it hits the culture, so to speak, that’s where I think a lot of rights holders like labels and such. [will] Take action against these platforms and ask them to take it down.

Lawmakers are already considering how to regulate AI-generated sounds in music.

Last month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into law the Insuring Likeness Voice and Image Security Act — also known as the “ELVIS Act.” The law, which claims to be the first of its kind, “constructs[s] Lee’s office said in a news release in January that the current state rule protects against unauthorized use of someone’s likeness by adding ‘voice’ to the scope.

Many in the industry, Including the Recording Academy And Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kunklepraised the legislation.

Antonicchio, an associate professor at Ohio University, said the wave of technology-inspired music should both excite and terrify the industry and consumers.

Even if more laws are introduced, Antoniosio said, trying to stem the tsunami of content that uses creative AI voices will be nearly impossible.

“There’s a very creative remix culture that we’re just starting to tap into,” he said. “And I think there are some interesting parts of it, but frankly, I think, there are a lot of things that we should all be concerned about.”

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