A still from the video for the new Beatles single “Now and Then.” (The Beatles—Now and Then / via YouTube)

Dawn of the Dead Musicians

Plus: Hands off Britney!

Debates over the promise and peril of technology touch so much right now: from the boardroom drama at OpenAI to teenage mental health to defense and geopolitics. Heavy stuff. And not things we’re going to worry about today. 

As you scramble to get your work done, make the piecrust, pack the car, and get to the airport on time ahead of Thanksgiving, we’re changing the pace today with a pair of cultural stories. 

First, Andrew Zucker reports on how music industry executives are using powerful new tools to cash in on stars long after their death. From a new Beatles single made possible by AI to never-ending hologram tours of your favorite stars, the future of music is in its past. And some musicians are even getting ahead of their own demise, thinking about their virtual afterlife while they’re still around. “When we’re all gone, there’ll still be AI so you won’t be able to get rid of us,” Mick Jagger has said.

Read Andrew’s story and brace yourself for a very weird future. 

As anyone who follows her on Instagram will know, Britney Spears, 41, is very much alive (and not to be confused with Taylor Swift, Mr. President). 

In fact, Britney is back in a big way. Not with new music (AI-generated or otherwise), but with a new memoir. There is a lot to cram into The Woman in Me: she signed a record deal when she was just 15 and has lived a tumultuous life in the limelight ever since. 

After becoming an A-list celebrity, Spears then became a cause célèbre, with the #FreeBritney movement protesting her father’s controlling conservatorship, which was eventually terminated in 2021. But, as Ben Appel writes in The Free Press today, The Woman in Me reveals a more complicated truth than many of her fans and champions would like to acknowledge. 

What’s the AI-enabled musical collaboration of your dreams? How about your nightmares? Let us know in the comments. 

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