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X Japan’s Yoshiki Urges Music Industry to Discuss Criteria for AI Use

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yoshiki speaks during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun in London on Dec. 5, 2023.

X Japan leader Yoshiki said that artificial intelligence can have a role to play in the evolution of music, but also questioned the extent to which musicians and artists should accept the use of this technology. He urged the music industry to discuss criteria for its use.

The following are excerpts from Yoshiki’s remarks in a Dec. 5, 2023, intervew with Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent Kayo Goto in London:

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Frankly, it is extremely difficult to say how we should view the emergence of AI. I think what took mankind a century to get from point A to B can be done in a year, a month or a day with AI. It seems AI is doing nothing but fast-forwarding. AI can be used effectively in some professions, but it could also take jobs away from humans.

One example that exploded onto the scene in the last few years is [interactive] generative AI, like ChatGPT. A song can be created by typing in keywords such as “watching stars by the sea at night.” This is an extreme example.

Rapid technological innovation

A similar debate took place when the internet became more widespread several decades ago. Now, many AI generated songs are being uploaded to streaming platforms. It’s becoming difficult to tell if songs were composed by humans or by AI. AI can allow anyone to sing with someone else’s voice, but no legislation has been put in place.

One way [to protect original music] might be by applying for your own copyright and publicity rights before they are used without permission.

With AI, anyone can create music and distribute it around the world. A song that took a year to finish and a song created in 30 minutes will be put through the same sieve. The incentive to create hit songs weakens if there’s no hope of good income from them.

With the rise of AI in music production, I think it’s important to consider what kind of incentive would keep artists working.

Not to be too conservative

I’ve lost my bandmate, hide [X Japan’s guitarist]. When an X Japan reunion concert was held, a hologram was used to show hide. For a documentary released in 2023, footage of hide performing about 30 years ago was combined with that of my performance. Such things couldn’t have been done without using technology.

I’m very open-minded, so I try to look at things from both sides. It’s questionable that it would be good for the arts to be conservative [about new technologies].

I’m a classical music lover by nature. When I make music, I write down a score, and I have tried to communicate with my fans through my music. But if I can create a piece of music simply by giving instructions like “with blue and red imagery” using generative AI, that’s going too far. To what extent should musicians and artists accept the use of AI? The music industry must discuss the matter after defining [the role of] AI to some extent.

Rules needed

AI technology has been used to recreate not only the likenesses of actors but even their voices without permission. It can easily make actors look younger or older. The problems facing Hollywood are rooted in the lack of progress on the development of copyrights, publicity rights and other legislation related to AI. No matter what we think now, technology has advanced much faster than legislation at this stage.

Even if we say, “no AI,” this trend is unstoppable. What matters is figuring out how to coexist with AI. The music, film and other industries need to set rules, and both creators and viewers need to understand that the situation [now stands at crossroads] over whether AI will help advance or destroy industries.

If we consider things with the criteria of making an environment that is conducive to the creation of great art, we will know what action should be taken in the future. I hope for an environment where artists can create works that move people. If great art can be created, that will benefit everyone.


Yoshiki

His rock band X formed in 1982 and released their first breakout album 1989. Yoshiki moved his base of operations to Los Angeles in 1992 and changed the band’s name to X Japan in the same year. He has made many hit songs, such as “Forever Love” and “Endless Rain.” In 2023, he became the first Japanese person to have his hand- and footprints cemented in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California