AI in the Music Industry: The Impact and the Challenges for the Creator Economy

JJohn July 21, 2023 6:21 PM

The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the music industry has sparked debate about copyright infringement and the future of the creator economy. With AI being trained on copyrighted content and producing derivative works, the lines of ownership and rights are becoming blurred, leading to legal complications and potential opportunities.

Copyright complexities in derivative music

The music industry stands out due to its unique structure, where a few music labels control the licenses to the majority of music produced in the past half a century. An issue arises with the creation of derivative music, where existing compositions are used to create new pieces. This practice has led to a gray area in terms of copyright, as the original compositions used as inputs are usually protected by these rights, creating dilemmas when AI is trained on such content.

Legal confrontations over AI-generated content

Litigations surrounding AI's use of copyrighted content to create new music and images have become increasingly common. For instance, Universal Music Group cited copyright violation when an AI was alleged to have created a track similar to the works of Drake and The Weeknd. Similar issues have emerged in the visual arts, where AI models trained on copyrighted images have faced lawsuits from stock photo providers like Getty Images.

One could argue that since the outputs generated by AI often don't bear resemblance to their original inputs, they might not infringe on copyrights. However, this argument doesn't hold water as the legal frameworks dealing with copyright issues are not equipped to handle the unique challenges posed by AI, leading to situations where artists may have to pay hefty amounts to avoid lawsuits, as was the case with rapper Vanilla Ice.

One of the unique aspects of AI is its ability to quickly generate a multitude of new tunes, lowering the bar for music sampling. But this presents a significant challenge in terms of copyright clearance. With the sheer volume of music that could be produced, it's possible we might need to set up thousands of new clearance offices to manage the rights associated with these tunes.

AI's role in boosting the Creative Economy

The burgeoning Creative Economy, featuring bloggers, streamers, and others, requires a constant supply of music to accompany content. AI has the potential to meet this demand by generating music based on specific parameters. This presents an opportunity for human musicians to contribute their own music to AI's training sets, thereby benefiting from the cash flow generated by the Creative Economy's consumption of AI-created music.

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