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December 07, 2023

Business Vantage Point Blog

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The Beatles Used AI to Create Their Last Song. What Does This Mean for the Entertainment Industry?

More than 60 years after their debut single, the Beatles have released a new recording, “Now and Then,” advertised as the last ever Beatles song. With classic Beatles symmetry, their first release, “Love Me Do,” serves as the B side for this last song. Not as classic, however, was their use of newly created artificial intelligence (AI) to create the track.

In the late 1970s, John Lennon wrote and performed a demo of “Now and Then” on his cassette recorder, which was given to the surviving Beatles members approximately two decades later by his widow, Yoko Ono. While working on “The Beatles Anthology” retrospective project, the group attempted to use the vocals from the demo but encountered audio issues with the recording. The cassette tape Lennon recorded made for a messy demo: It was scratchy with a persistent electric buzz, the TV could be heard in the background and Lennon’s voice was on the same track as his piano — with one often drowning out the other. There was little they could do with the technology of the time, so the band abandoned the song.

Using technology made possible due to recent advances made by film director Peter Jackson and his team — developed while creating the documentary series “The Beatles: Get Back” — Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were able to isolate Lennon’s vocal track from the rest of the original recording. The machine-assisted learning (MAL) technology developed by Jackson’s team could distinguish between different instruments and voices. The MAL machine “allows us to take any soundtrack and split all the different components into separate tracks,” Jackson said in a new short film about the making of “Now and Then.” The technology separated Lennon’s vocals from the piano parts on the “Now and Then” demo, and “there it was, John’s voice, crystal clear,” McCartney said in the film. Read More...


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