AI Sings a New Song - Part II - Praxis
AI Sings a New Song – Part II

AI Sings a New Song – Part II

We cannot simply do away with technological progress, but at least the growing need to safeguard the rights and livelihoods of artists and creative professionals has become a discussion point – and that is promising indeed


The intersection of AI and media has sparked contentious debates around copyright and licensing. Indeed, advancements in AI have not only enhanced the quality of synthesised voices, but also enabled sophisticated voice cloning capabilities. AI-generated deepfake music composed through illegal tools are spreading like wildfire – and the non-discerning general populace has no complain against it. Open-source applications are accessible to all, and although these go against established copyright frameworks there are no effective deterrents in place. The impact of deepfake music on artists and revenue streams are becoming profound. Consider the case where a replicated tune in a synthesised voice mimicking a real artist appears on Spotify or YouTube. Who profits from the creation? And who should be considered to hold its creative rights?

Key ethical considerations

There are several key ethical considerations around AI’s involvement in music creation and ownership:

  1. Authorship and Creativity: When an AI system generates or assists in the creation of music, it raises questions about the nature of authorship and creativity. Who should be credited as the “creator” of the music – the AI system, the human who designed the AI, the human who provided the training data, or some combination? This has implications for copyright and intellectual property.
  2. Ownership and Monetisation: In continuation to the abovementioned complication, AI-generated music raises complex questions around who owns the intellectual property rights and how the benefits should be distributed among the various stakeholders (AI developers, human artists, and so on).
  3. Transparency and Accountability: When an AI system is involved in the creative process, there are questions around the transparency of its decision-making and the ability to hold anyone accountable for the outputs.
  4. Authenticity and Artistic Expression: Some argue that music created with AI lacks the authenticity and emotional expressiveness of human-created music. There are concerns that AI-generated music may be perceived as soulless or lacking in genuine artistic merit.
  5. Bias and Fairness: The training data and algorithms used to develop music-generating AI systems may bake in human biases, leading to the perpetuation or amplification of biases in the music produced. This could marginalise certain musical styles, genres, or artists.
  6. Displacement of Human Artists: As AI becomes more capable of generating high-quality music, there are fears that it could displace human musicians and composers, impacting their livelihoods and the overall diversity of musical expression.
  7. Societal Impact: The widespread use of AI in music creation could have broader societal implications, such as changes in how music is consumed, valued, and appreciated.

These hurdles need to be negotiated as AI becomes more prevalent in the music industry.

All stakeholders must come forward

Major music industry players, such as Universal, have called on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple to restrict AI companies from utilising their artists’ works. Over 40 organisations, including influential groups like the Recording Academy and the National Music Publishers Association, launched the Human Artistry Campaign in 2023. The objective was to ensure that AI technologies be exploited to sustain human artistic expression, rather than replace or undermine it.

Progressive AI companies – on the other hand – are proactively collaborating with music rights holders to establish mutually beneficial licensing agreements, laying the groundwork for a more sustainable and equitable AI music ecosystem. These companies are also incorporating indemnification clauses and insurance requirements into their deals, providing legal protection against potential claims and peace of mind for all parties.

With the AI music landscape maturing over time, developers must prioritise ethical licensing practices and work closely with the music industry. This not only mitigates legal risks but also enables AI and human creativity to coexist and thrive, unlocking new opportunities. While retroactively re-licensing all tracks may not be feasible, the industry can set ethical standards and cement a framework that benefits stakeholders moving forward.

Companies in the AI music space should take the lead, prioritising “dataset ethics” from the start. This involves sourcing data through proper licensing, ensuring fair compensation for rights holders, and creating transparent metadata frameworks. Crucially, it also demands active collaboration and open dialogue between AI companies and the music industry to develop equitable licensing models and best practices, fostering trust and mutual respect – the foundation for a thriving AI music ecosystem.

Safeguarding the creative community

While AI may enhance and streamline certain aspects of music production, the question remains: will it ultimately complement or replace the irreplaceable human artistry that has captivated listeners for generations? Well, we cannot simply do away with technological progress, but at least the growing need to safeguard the rights and livelihoods of artists and creative professionals has become a discussion point – and that is promising! Enlisting the expertise of technology professionals in the development of AI tools is a crucial step forward. Such experts are intimately familiar with the rapidly evolving AI landscape, and can come up with solutions that proactively address the ethics and privacy issues. By incorporating the insights of those at the forefront of AI development, technologies can attempt to remain aligned with the ethos of the creative community. Ongoing dialogue, clear policies, and thoughtful governance will be essential to ensure this.




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