Ivors Academy Global Creators Summit 2023

Here's what we learned at the Ivors Academy's AI summit

Music creators, policy makers and tech company representatives were among those to take part in the London event.

Sam Moore
  • By Sam Harteam Moore
  • 25 Sep 2023
  • min read

The Ivors Academy hosted its latest global summit, AI & Music, in central London last week. The event, which was supported by PRS for Music, centred around a series of presentations and panel discussions featuring music creators, industry experts and policy makers to discuss the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and music.

The summit took place as the Ivors Academy and its fellow Council Of Music Makers members — the Featured Artists Coalition, the Musicians’ Union, the Music Producers Guild and the Music Managers Forum — published their five principles that 'should be fully embraced by technology companies and the music industry as they develop new music AI technologies'.

The ample opportunities and risks of AI within the music industry were discussed at great length throughout the day — here's what we learned from the Ivors' AI & Music summit.

How will creators give consent and get paid if their work is used by AI?

Following introductory words from Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies and PRS Members’ Council Chair Julian Nott, the second panel of the day focused on creators' consent, and how they might be paid, if they work is utilised by AI companies.

After a brief overview of the latest developments in Text and Data Mining systems (TDMs) from Jamie Smith, Partner in the Interactive Group at Sheridans, panel moderator and Ivors Academy board member Julia Montero asked the panel how creators can give authorisation for their works to be used in AI, given the current lack of clarity surrounding the subject.

Nicola Solomon, Chair of the Creators’ Rights Alliance, said: 'Creators haven't been asked at all [about consent], and we don’t know what’s been used and where. It’s important that these AI models publish the information they use, and give creators the choice to opt in or out. I’ve never seen the creative industries be so united than they are on this, and it’s great we’re all working together.'

Dr Hayleigh Bosher, Reader in Intellectual Property Law at Brunel University, cited the example of how the music industry managed to catch up with the rapid rise of streaming. 'But we need to move faster with AI,' she added. 'Some platforms like Muso.AI ask if you want to share your data, and that’s a good example of an ethical AI platform in action. Given the current uncertainty of the law from a copyright perspective, though, an AI developer might be able to take advantage of this grey area to innovate. The government needs to clarify what needs to be done, but there’s a disconnect there: they and the Culture, Media and Sport Committee don’t talk to each other regarding copyright. Copyright applies to lots of works, not just music, so creators need to present a united front.’

The panel also discussed the role of collecting societies in facilitating the potential licensing of AI, ensuring that creators are sufficiently remunerated for their work. 'Everyone knows PRS as a collective bargaining tool, and these societies will be able to go up against these big technology companies,' Hayleigh noted.

Creators were also advised to start inserting terms around AI into any new contracts to ensure clarity around the future use of their work. In terms of existing agreements, creators should speak to their publishers and labels if AI isn’t addressed clearly.

'Read your contracts: it's no fun, but you need to so to be careful that people aren’t slipping things in that aren’t agreed by you,' Hayleigh added. 'Even if you’ve signed one, go back and see what it covers: there may be loose wording in there like "something that may not have been invented yet", which could relate to AI. See if you can renegotiate if so.’

Nicola agreed: 'You shouldn’t have to give away rights that are unimagined or unintended. Creators should be rewarded for every use of their work, and we should be campaigning for these rights.’

A final word on the topic came from Jamie, who said: ‘As soon as you get a contract, creators should ask: "What do you want to use with this?" Ask those questions about time, usage and the future. Get that clarity, so you know what they’re going to do with that content that's been commissioned.’

The first findings from PRS's survey on AI in music

The summit also saw a presentation from PRS for Music's Chief Strategy, Communications and Public Affairs Officer John Mottram, who presented early findings from PRS's recent membership survey on AI and music.

Conducted last month, the survey drew responses from over 1400 PRS members. 71% of respondents said that they were not currently using AI for music-related activities, while the other 29% said that they had used AI for tasks such as designing album artwork or mixing and mastering music rather than for compositional purposes. 

55% of our respondents said that they would be open to using AI for music-related activities in the future, though 31% said that they would definitely not be making use of the technology.

93% of respondents do believe, however, that creators deserve to be compensated if their music is used for AI-generated content, while 89% feel that AI tools should be transparent about how they generate AI works.

'There are absolutes among our members about how they want AI to be regulated,' John said about the findings. 'They want to be able to decide when their works are used, the ability to police that decision and be paid fairly.'

AI is already changing the way many creators work

Jesper Hansen, Vice-President of ECSA, told the audience during the final panel of the summit: ‘I’m not terrified that AI will create better music than humans. I’m more scared that people like my young nephew are becoming their own music supervisors through AI… I’m worried that AI will produce music that is only "good enough" for that generation, which sets an inferior benchmark for that generation to consume.’

Artist, producer and creative director Ilā Kamalagharan shared a different view: ‘People thought that synthesisers were going to be the death of "real music" and creativity. Maybe I’m blindly optimistic, but people are naturally driven to create music. On social media, I’ve seen the younger generation become filled with amazing musicians; creativity isn’t being dumbed down. I’ve seen applications like Headspace provide assistance to disabled musicians, while similar programs work for people with Alzheimer’s.’

Lulu Patin, Partner at Loop Legal Inc, said that she was excited about how AI might provide scope for 'exponential innovation and invention' among creators. 

'Music has evolved many times over the years: look at Fred again..  through his use of [production and technological] tools to express empathy,' she said. 'I can’t wait for Thom Yorke to use AI, I’m excited to see what he does with it. [AI] could turn everything we know about music creating on its head…

‘As a lawyer, I’m excited about the traceability of music from AI when it comes to things like copyright claims. It’ll give us clarity on what information was used to create the music, rather than problematic arguments about the “vibe”. Now we have the ability to properly quantify it and license it. I am terrified about the volume of music that could be created, though, and concerned about what effect it’ll have on musicians making a liveable wage. I’m also concerned about nuance, and hope that, with human guidance, we can push back on that. Legacy is also an issue, in terms of the mark you leave on the world. If someone can replicate your voice and you’re then singing with people or about ideas you wouldn’t have done while living, that leads to a very troubling reality for all of us.’

The conversation then turned to how the music industry can catch up with the advancements being made by AI, with Jesper saying 'we’d be fooling ourselves if we didn’t think big tech companies hadn’t already scraped everything they could'.

'It’s a shame that music composers are always catching up in the industry,' he continued. 'Transparency would lead to greater accuracy, though, and that would lead to less money for the tech companies! It won’t be easy to solve because of that, as it feels like [tech companies] can’t do anything when it doesn’t directly benefit them. I’m curious [about AI], but I’m also aware I create my best music at my piano. If I dive into the world of AI, I’ll need to re-learn everything and essentially reinvent myself. There’s a fear that I’m out-of-date.'

Ila added: ‘You’re probably already using AI, even if you’re not knowingly using it. So it’s about understanding how to use it and how many types of AI there are: I use AI in about 10 or so different ways. Can it help us be more human as composers?’

Lulu concluded the panel by reminding creators that ‘music is an inherently personal process: so however you do that, do that'.

'From a business perspective, learn and use the AI tools,' she added. 'Governments around the world are begging to know what AI can do, so let’s be part of its implementation.'