Suno is a music AI company aiming to generate $120 billion per year. But is it trained on copyrighted recordings?

The next MBW Views op/ed comes from Ed Newton-Rex (pictured inset), CEO of the moral generative AI non-profit, Fairly Trained. A veteran professional on the planet of gen-AI, Newton-Rex can also be the previous VP Audio at Stability AI, and the founding father of JukeDeck (acquired by TikTok/ByteDance in 2019).

On this piece, Newton-Rex turns his consideration to Suno – a music AI platform gaining loads of consideration, not least because of this Rolling Stone article on the corporate, printed final month, whose headline known as Suno “a ChatGPT for Music”.

Throughout the Rolling Stone article, Suno co-founder, Mikey Shulman – described as “a boyishly charming, backpack-toting 37-year-old with a Harvard Ph.D. in physics” – advised that, sooner or later, a billion individuals paying $10 monthly (that’s $120 billion a 12 months, all instructed) could possibly be creating songs with Suno.

Suno claims that its platform allows “anybody to make nice music”. That is sometimes achieved through ChatGPT-style textual content prompts, or by customers inputting lyrics. Suno then generates melodies, harmonies, and/or full compositions based mostly on these cues.

One more reason Suno is huge information? Late final 12 months, Microsoft introduced a partnership with Suno, through which customers of Microsoft’s Copilot can use the Suno software program to create music.

Unsurprisingly, Ed Newton-Rex has been spending a good period of time with Suno of late. He’s been left intrigued by the platform’s output which, he says, seems to be immediately, ahem, impressed by among the greatest musical stars in historical past.

Under, Newton-Rex – a broadcast classical composer – highlights a number of examples of tracks made on Suno which might be strikingly much like hit pop music copyrights…

Generative AI firms are amassing thousands and thousands of customers and reaching astronomical valuations by giving individuals entry to AI fashions that allow them generate textual content, photos, code, speech, and extra. Many of those fashions are educated on big quantities of copyrighted work with out permission or fee. This has led to vital backlash.

Creators and media firms alike have sued, and there was continued, vocal opposition to what’s thought-about by many to be copyright infringement on an enormous scale.

Suno has emerged as one of many main AI music era firms. It costs a subscription payment to let customers create full songs from a textual content immediate or different easy inputs, equivalent to lyrics and magnificence. On this method, it appears to be attempting to turn out to be the Midjourney for music. Its lyrics era is dealt with by OpenAI’s API, however the music and vocal era is made potential by Suno’s AI fashions. The generated songs are sometimes spectacular, and a few persons are already reporting switching their listening habits from Spotify to Suno.

However there are hints that Suno, like many different generative AI firms, might practice its fashions on copyrighted work with out permission. Suno has not disclosed what it makes use of as coaching knowledge. In a recent piece in Rolling Stone, one in every of Suno’s traders was reported as saying they didn’t have offers with the labels “when the corporate bought began” (there is no such thing as a suggestion this has modified), that they invested within the firm “with the complete data that music labels and publishers may sue,” and that the founders’ lack of open hostility to the music trade “doesn’t imply we’re not going to get sued.” Taken collectively, these hints counsel there’s a respectable chance Suno trains on copyrighted music with out consent.

When an AI firm doesn’t reveal its coaching knowledge sources, the perfect probability we’ve of figuring out these sources is to make use of the mannequin and see whether or not we will discover output that resembles copyrighted materials. Output that resembles copyrighted materials is a powerful indicator that that materials was a part of the coaching knowledge.

I, and others, have discovered that Suno often outputs music that carefully resembles copyrighted materials. That is true throughout musical model, melodies, chord sequences, instrumental components and lyrics. On this put up, I’ll share some examples, and consider what they imply.

I wish to stress that I don’t assume this sort of output resemblance is required for copyright to have been infringed: I believe that, if the mannequin was educated on copyrighted work with no license, copyright has been infringed, whether or not the mannequin generates actual copies of the coaching knowledge or not. The examples I embody on this put up are quite supposed to assist level in the direction of what the mannequin might have been educated on.

I generated all of the examples on this put up, utilizing v3 of Suno, except in any other case acknowledged. I’ve transposed all musical examples to C main or A minor to make comparability simpler. I by no means generated many tracks for a given immediate – the examples included had been typically within the first two generated songs for the immediate in query.


Suno won’t generate your monitor when you use a widely known artist or monitor title as your immediate. However a trivial workaround is to barely misspell the artist title in query.

Utilizing this method, Suno seems to generate vocals that sound like Eminem.

  • Immediate: a rap track by an artist known as beminem
  • End result:

Suno additionally seems able to producing vocals that sound Ed Sheeran.

(Be aware that I wasn’t deliberately producing one thing within the model of Ed Sheeran right here.)

  • Immediate: mainstream pop, ripped audio, aac
  • End result:

Subsequent up is ABBA.

For this track, I used Suno’s secondary track creation mode, in which you’ll be able to enter customized lyrics. Right here, I copy-pasted the lyrics of Dancing Queen. So you possibly can ignore the lyrics, and simply take note of the model.

  • Type: 70s pop
  • Title: prancing queen
  • Lyrics: [entire Dancing Queen lyrics]
  • End result:

Now, Oasis.

  • Immediate: a track by a 90s British band from Manchester. the lyrics are about not being indignant.
  • End result:

And, lastly, Blink-182.

  • Immediate: a track by a band named blank-184
  • End result:

These examples don’t definitively show that these artists are within the dataset.

There are different potential explanations: a dataset full of top of the range soundalikes, for instance. However the vocal likeness in a few of these songs is actually suggestive.


Suno’s secondary track creation mode, talked about above, helps you to enter customized lyrics. By coming into lyrics of current songs, we will study what melodies the mannequin chooses to suit to these lyrics.

Utilizing this technique, it seems to be comparatively simple to seek out examples of Suno’s melodies replicating or carefully resembling copyrighted melodies.

Listed here are some notable examples…

Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody

The well-known, distinctive “Galileo” line from Bohemian Rhapsody is replicated by Suno right here nearly verbatim, utilizing related pitches, the same model, and the same register:

  • Type: 70s british rock
  • Title: Bohemian Symphony
  • Lyrics: [entire Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics]
  • End result:

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: Tracks Of My Tears

The primary 5 pitches of the melody within the Suno monitor generated under are the identical as these in Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ Tracks of My Tears.

  • Type: 60s r&b / soul
  • Title: tracks of my fears
  • Lyrics: [entire Tracks of My Tears lyrics]
  • End result:

Oasis, Wonderwall

The sample of intervals used for the road “that they’re gonna throw it again to you” is replicated from the unique (A within the excerpt under). So is the sample of pitches used for “by now, you must’ve by some means” (B within the excerpt under).

  • Type: britpop
  • Title: wondrous wall
  • Lyrics: [entire Wonderwall lyrics]
  • End result: 

Oasis, Don’t Look Again in Anger

The pitches used on “begin a revolution from my mattress” within the Suno monitor under are similar to the unique, with the one modifications being a small alteration on “a” (proven in brackets under) and the pitches on ‘from my’ swapped round (proven with an asterisk).

  • Type: britpop
  • Title: sally can wait
  • Lyrics: [entire Don’t Look Back in Anger lyrics]
  • End result:

Moreover, the rhythm used for “rise up beside the fireside, take that look from off your face” within the Suno monitor is identical as the unique, with the one alteration being the removing of a break between the phrases.

ABBA: The Winner Takes It All

The primary three notes within the Suno composition under are the identical as the unique:

  • Type: 70s ballad
  • Title: the sinner takes all of it
  • Lyrics: [entire The Winner Takes It All lyrics]
  • End result:


Suno additionally generates chord sequences which might be similar to these present in copyrighted songs:

Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive

When attempting to generate ’80s dance-pop music within the model of Rick Astley’s By no means Gonna Give You Up, Suno generated a chord sequence that’s just about an identical to the distinctive chords from Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive:

  • Type: 80s dance-pop
  • Title: not providing you with up
  • Lyrics: [entire Never Gonna Give You Up lyrics]
  • End result:

Unique: Cm – Fm – Bb – Eb – Ab – Dm half dim. – Gsus – G

Suno: Cm – Fm – Bb – Eb – Ab – Fm – G – G

(The minor variations are substitutions which have little impact on the general notion of the chord sequence.)

Unique: I Will Survive

Ed Sheeran, Fortress on the Hill

When attempting to generate a track much like Ed Sheeran’s Fortress on The Hill, Suno generated a track whose opening chords are the identical as the unique, aside from C main being substituted for A minor (just about the least obtrusive chord substitution that could possibly be made right here).

  • Type: folks pop
  • Title: fortress on the mountain
  • Lyrics: [entire Castle on The Hill lyrics]
  • End result:

Unique: C – C – F – F – Am – Am – G – G

Suno: C – C – F – F – C – C – G – G

Unique: Castle on The Hill

Apparently, when producing one other track with out attempting particularly to emulate Fortress on The Hill, Suno delivered the identical chord sequence, once more with Sheeran-esque vocals.

This time, the bass line itself was similar to that in Fortress on The Hill, with the attribute third scale diploma method to chord IV, and the repeated notes on every chord:

  • Immediate: benny from the block
  • End result:

ABBA, Dancing Queen

At first of the Suno track within the model of Abba talked about above, a particular 4-chord sequence is used that’s an identical to a chord sequence utilized in Dancing Queen, with solely the rhythms altered.

Notably, within the Suno track it’s used to accompany the identical part of lyrics that it accompanies within the unique – the portion round “having the time of your life”.

Unique: Dancing Queen

Instrumental components

Suno typically generates instrumental backing that sounds much like current songs, whether or not you’re attempting to create a track within the model of a selected artist or not.

Listed here are two examples…

Ed Sheeran, Form of You

My immediate for this track had nothing to do with Ed Sheeran, however the backing is similar to Form of You in locations. On this passage, the backing rhythm is identical, three of the primary three chords are the identical (indicated by the brackets beneath the stave), and even the distinctive melodic 1-3-1 form is discernible (indicated by the bracket above the stave).

  • Immediate: benny from the block
  • End result:

Unique: Shape of You

Blink 182, All The Small Issues

This track, generated in an try to create a track within the model of Blink-182, encompasses a drumbeat which is basically the identical as that of their track All of the Small Issues.

  • Immediate: a track by a band named blank-184
  • End result:

Unique: All The Small Things


Garrett Shorr, a highschool laptop science trainer who incorporates AI ethics within the curriculum, generated a track on Suno that included the primary line of lyrics from Metallica’s track Gas.

It’s price noting once more that Suno’s lyrics are generated by OpenAI’s API.

  • Immediate: Make a track known as Gas: The Revenge which is a continuation of a well-known track by a band that rhymes with petallica however instructed from the perspective of the gasoline
  • End result:


A couple of different songs generated utilizing Suno counsel that their coaching set might comprise copyrighted work.

Silly Dumb Hyphy

In December, X consumer @HammerTime shared a track that they had generated utilizing v2 of Suno. I’m undecided whether or not they enter the lyrics, or whether or not the lyrics had been generated. Both method, the short clip is strikingly much like Mistah FAB’s Stupid Dumb Hyphy.

Yung Slim

A Suno consumer who needs to stay nameless discovered that requesting instrumental tracks within the style “chicago drill” typically results in output that resembles copyrighted music.

On this instance, regardless of having requested an instrumental monitor, you possibly can hear the phrases “It’s Yung Slim” close to the beginning. Yung Slim is an actual artist, and the track bears a placing resemblance to his track Dead One: the melodic backing in each consists of a repetitive determine making heavy use of scale levels 1, 2 and three, and the bass line in each is identical.

  • Instrumental monitor
  • Type: chicago drill
  • End result: 

Unique bass line: C – C – A♭ – A♭

Suno bass line: C – C – A♭ – A♭

Producer tags

Andrew Rapier observed that some Suno output incorporates ‘producer tags’ that don’t present up within the track’s lyrics. Producer tags are sometimes added to music on-line both by producers as a method of defending their work, or just as branding. Right here, you possibly can hear one thing that appears like a producer tag for ‘Geo Beats’:

  • Type: Atlanta Rap Artist – Entice Membership Black Artist R@!iCh The Ki$$D
  • Lyrics: [from Rich The Kid – Nasty]

Implications for Suno, the music trade, and musicians

Suno appears to generate output that resembles copyrighted music. This contains many alternative features of well-known songs: melodies, chord progressions, lyrics, instrumental components, and kinds.

This implies one in every of three issues. Both the mannequin was educated on copyrighted music with out licenses, or it was educated on copyrighted music with licenses, or the resemblance is right down to probability.

The latter appears most unlikely. It’s onerous to imagine that the melodic similarities, particularly – Bohemian Rhapsody, Tracks of My Tears, and extra – would come up by probability, inside the first couple of items of output for his or her respective prompts. This turns into even more durable to imagine when mixed with all the opposite similarities.

It’s not possible to say categorically whether or not Suno trains on copyrighted music. Nor do we all know, in the event that they do, whether or not they have licenses in place to take action. (Although Billboard’s editors have said “sources verify that the corporate doesn’t have licensing agreements in place with among the most outstanding music rightsholders, together with the three main label teams and the Nationwide Music Publishers’ Affiliation”.) However their silence on their coaching knowledge, their investor’s feedback about their lack of licenses, and the musical examples referenced right here mix to boost severe questions on what Suno trains its fashions on.

That is necessary as a result of there are numerous, together with myself, who assume that coaching a generative AI mannequin on copyrighted work with out permission constitutes copyright infringement. Within the US, generative AI firms typically argue that coaching their AI fashions with out rights holders’ consent falls beneath the truthful use exception. However a number of individuals disagree with this place, and the courts are but to rule definitively by some means.

One of many components that’s used to find out whether or not an act of copying (such because the copying that happens throughout mannequin coaching) constitutes a good use is the impact of the use on the potential marketplace for or worth of the work that’s copied. Generative AI firms are inclined to downplay their know-how’s potential to exchange labour. However generative AI clearly competes with the info it’s educated on.

If an AI music firm trains on copyrighted music, and folks divert listening hours from human-composed music to the corporate’s AI-composed music, the act of copying has lowered the marketplace for the unique. This diversion of listening hours is just not hypothetical: persons are already beginning to hearken to music from merchandise like Suno rather than listening to human music. On this context, it’s onerous to see how coaching a generative AI mannequin on copyrighted music could possibly be thought-about truthful use.

I hope that Suno will make clear what their fashions are educated on. We needs to be supportive of generative AI firms that respect creators by licensing the coaching knowledge they use. We shouldn’t be supportive of those who don’t. The one method for the music trade and the generative AI trade to co-exist in a mutually helpful method is inside a framework of coaching knowledge licensing. With out licensing, AI firms are unfairly exploiting creators’ work to construct opponents to these creators.

Music Business Worldwide contacted Suno final week for remark forward of publication of Ed Newton-Rex’s evaluation above. Suno didn’t reply.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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