The explosive rise of AI in music production this year is only the beginning of a seismic shift in the industry, says legendary Queen guitarist and scientist Brian May, who says from here “it's going to be very strange.”

“AI is going to have the ability to dredge everybody else's talent and make something out of it, which is a bit scary,” May said in an interview with Rosie Bennet for the Fret Not podcast. “Because I think 2023 is going to be the last year you'll know something has been written by a human.”

The AI-generated song “Heart on My Sleeve,” created by a pseudonymous TikTok user named Ghostwriter, was the quintessential example. The viral track used generative AI to recreate Drake's and The Weeknd's vocal stylings. The song was so convincing that people wondered if it could be considered for a Grammy.

During the podcast conversation, the legendary guitarist and astrophysicist detailed his view on artificial intelligence and its potential effects on the music industry—and ventured into the recent Hollywood writers and actors strikes.


Many writers called AI a “plagiarism machine” due to the controversial use of published works to train AI models. This practice led to a schism in the AI community, including a Stability AI VP publicly leaving the developer of Stable Diffusion.

May acknowledged the fear of writers and artists that AI could be used to manufacture similar work, but he also said that the creative process does not take place without inspiration from outside sources.

“In a way, we're all plagiarists; none of us creates in a vacuum,” he said. “Every time now when I'm creating something, I think, ‘Where's this coming from? Is it something that I heard? Is it something I felt spontaneously? Where does it come from?’ And where are those lines?”


Looking to the future, May sees a time when AI goes from being used to create music to AI creating and performing its music.

“Of course, you can have people performing a piece of music that's made by AI, but eventually, you will have AI performing it as well—and probably listening to it and crying,” May said. “And then you forget about humans; humans don't matter anymore.

“It's gonna be weird, quicker than people realize,” he said. “It's gonna get very, very weird.”

AI has long been a topic of interest for May, who co-wrote Queen's latest single, a reissue of the 1984 track Machines (Back to Humans)—which chronicles humans "reclaiming our control" in the face of a "robotic insurgence." In a recent interview, May discussed how the re-release felt appropriate in "these days of artificial intelligence beginning to invade our whole lives."

Even as the recording industry continues to grapple with artificial intelligence, musicians—including electronic music duo Disclosure and legendary band The Beatles—are using the emerging technology to create new music and bring dead singers back to life for one more song.

As the debate around the use of AI to create songs continues, the Recording Academy said this year that it would allow songs that used AI in their creation.

In June, the Recording Academy updated its rules for the 2024 Grammy Awards to include music created with the help of AI tools. However, the Recording Academy emphasized that AI can only play a part in the process—songs created mostly or entirely by AI, like “Heart on My Sleeve,” will not be eligible for a nomination.


Earlier this year, fellow legendary rocker Nick Cave didn't hold back when asked about his view on an artist using ChatGPT to write lyrics because of its ease. In a blog post, Cave said artists using ChatGPT because it is “faster and easier” are participating in eroding the world’s soul and the spirit of humanity.

“ChatGPT rejects any notions of creative struggle, that our endeavours animate and nurture our lives giving them depth and meaning,” Cave wrote at the time. “It rejects that there is a collective, essential and unconscious human spirit underpinning our existence, connecting us all through our mutual striving.”

Edited by Ryan Ozawa and Stephen Graves.

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