Are new AI laws a threat to the music industry?
News of AI and machine learning continues to dominate the headlines with ever increasing capabilities being explored and developed across the world. However, alongside the revolutionary benefits, especially across sectors such as healthcare and automation, there are concerns for many about how the new technology is likely to impact factors such as jobs, creativity and cybersecurity.
One key industry in which the use of artificial intelligence is gaining traction is within music and entertainment. David Guetta even recently revealed that he believes “the future of music is in AI”.
But, while developing new styles and experimenting with advanced software could lead to the creation of exciting music genres and opportunities, there are concerns over the misuse and takeover capabilities of this technology.
The use of AI relies heavily on text and data mining (TDM) but current copyright laws don’t allow this for non-commercial reasons. However, the UK government are considering putting in place an exception that allows TDM for any reason. Their proposal states that safeguards will still be in place to protect content and patents but there are, potentially, far wider implications, especially if AI continues to advance at its current speed.
One of the big concerns is content creators and musicians having their work effectively crawled and plagiarised by AI technologies, and then used by private companies. And without any copyright laws, breaches will not take place and original artists won’t receive a penny, or any recognition.
How the music industry has reacted
Representatives from the music industry have addressed concerns over the TDM exception, particularly in response to the fact that material could be used without remuneration. And, the fact that an algorithm would be basically creating new content from a pool of original material, means there’s a lack of human responsibility or autonomy.
As well as the moral and ethical side of the argument, there’s also the practical elements to consider.
Lack of funding
There is already a significant issue with a lack of funding for musicians and artists in the UK, so it stands to reason that the advent of AI and its infiltration into the music industry is likely to increase this problem.
Musicians are still struggling on the back of the pandemic, having to make up for a huge downfall due to cancelled live gigs and events over the course of more than a year.
Another factor relates to the cut in government funding for music and arts courses across UK universities. Coupled with high-cost student loans, many prospective music students are being discouraged at what should be the start of their journey.
Projects such as the Musicians’ Census 2023, should shed more light into issues such as these and enable organisations within the music sector lobby the government to get musicians the deserved recognition and support.
If AI can produce human-quality music and content, the market could quickly become overrun, especially as the costs of AI will no doubt reduce the more advanced it becomes. This means that original artists could find themselves in competition with software that produces significantly more material for a much cheaper price.
The future of music and AI
While there are seemingly many negatives of the use of AI within the music industry, the future of original creation doesn’t need to be at risk if proper regulations are put in place. But, AI is developing quicker than the ability to create and implement such restrictions and no one will be 100% sure of the overall impact until it actually happens.
Rather than bury heads in the sand, it would perhaps be more helpful to consider how the music industry and AI can work together. One such way would be for creators alone to utilise the technology to enhance their work, rather than replace it.
And, despite AIs capabilities, nothing takes away the experience of hearing sounds or lyrics that have been created with human emotion and talent.
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