McCartney says Beatles track created with help of AI

In spite of the fear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is potentially harmful to musicians, former Beatle Paul McCartney announced that an AI-aided “final Beatles record” featuring John Lennon will come out this year. 

According to a DW report, this is not the first time McCartney has experimented with AI. Last year he performed a two-hour set at the Glastonbury festival in England, playing Beatles’ classics to a 100,000-strong crowd. The set included a virtual duet with Lennon of the song “I’ve Got a Feeling,” from the Beatles’ last album, “Let It Be.

He is also publishing a photo book, titled “Eyes of the Storm.”

“It was a demo that John  [Lennon] had, and that we worked on, and we just finished it up,” McCartney, who turns 81 next week, told the BBC, referring to an upcoming record he said would be released this year.

McCartney did not name the unreleased song, but according to the BBC it is likely to be a 1978 Lennon composition called “Now And Then.”

Paul McCartney on stage holding up his left hand making a fist.Paul McCartney on stage holding up his left hand making a fist.

The Beatles — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — split in 1970, with each going on to have solo careers. They never reunited or produced other records as a group afterwards. Lennon was shot dead in New York in 1980 at the age of 40, while Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001, aged 58. Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney are still active as solo artistes.

Lennon had recorded different tracks for McCartney a year before his death. The demos were on a cassette that was given to him by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, in 1994.

Two of the songs, “Free As A Bird” and “Real Love,” were cleaned up by Beatles producer Jeff Lynne, and released in 1995 and 1996. An attempt was also made to do the same with “Now And Then” but the project was abandoned because of background noise on the demo.

Last month, the British singer Sting warned that “defending our human capital against AI” would be a major battle for musicians in the coming years.

And, indeed, the use of AI in music is the subject of debate in the industry, with some denouncing copyright abuses and others praising its prowess.

The music streaming app Deezer recently announced it will be launching a tool to detect and tag songs with AI-generated vocal clones in a bid to protect the revenues of the real artists. Artificial Intelligence tools have recently allowed people to recreate the sound of famous artist vocals, from The Beatles to Oasis.

McCartney, however, embraces the use of new technologies. It was “kind of scary but exciting because it’s the future,” he said. “We’ll just have to see where that leads.”

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