Technology

Randy Travis is getting his voice back in a new AI music experiment from Warner

For the first time since a stroke in 2013 left country singer Randy Travis unable to speak or sing properly, he has released a new song. He didn’t sing it though; Instead, the vocals were created using AI software and a replacement singer.

The song, titled “Where That Came From,” is exactly the kind of folksy, sentimental tune I loved as a kid when Travis was at the height of his fame. The producers created it by training an unnamed AI model starting with 42 of his vocal-isolated recordings. Then under the supervision of Travis and his Longtime producer Kyle LehningFellow country singer James DuPre contributed the vocals that would be converted by AI into Travis’s.

The song can be found not only on YouTube but also on other streaming platforms Apple Music And Spotify.

The result of Warner’s experiment is a gentle melody that captures Travis’ relaxed style, which rarely strays far from his baritone foundation. It sounds like one of those singles that would have stuck on the charts long enough for me to nervously jump into it, having once worked up the courage to ask a girl to dance at a middle school party. I wouldn’t say it is Great Randy Travis song, but it’s certainly not the worst – I’d even say I like it.

Dustin Ballard, who runs the various versions of the social media account There I Ruined It, creates his AI voice parodies broadly the same way As Travis’ team, he came up with silly mash-ups like the AI ​​artist Elvis Presley singing “Baby Got Back” or the synthetic Johnny Cash singing “Barbie Girl.”

It would be easy to sound the alarm about this song or Ballard’s creations and proclaim the death of man-made music as we know it. But I would say it does exactly the opposite, reinforcing what tools like an AI voice clone can do in the right hands. Whether you like the song or not, you have to admit that I can’t achieve something like this through occasional requests.

Cris Lacy, co-president of Warner Music Nashville, told CBS Sunday Morning that AI voice cloning websites produce approximations of artists like Travis that “don’t sound real because they aren’t.” She called the label’s use of AI to clone Travis’ voice “AI for good.”

For now, Warner can’t really do much about AI clones, which he says don’t fall under the heading of “AI for good.” But Tennessee’s recently passed ELVIS lawwhich takes effect July 1, would allow labels to take legal action against those who use software to recreate an artist’s voice without permission.

Travis’ song is a good side-by-side example of using AI to make music that actually feels legitimate. On the other hand, it could also open a new path for Warner, which owns the rights to extensive music catalogs from famous, dead artists that are ripe for digital resurrection and, if they want to go there, stand to make potential profits. As heartwarming as this story is, I wonder what lessons Warner Music Nashville – and the record industry as a whole – will learn from this song.

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