PRS for Music Explores: Artificial Intelligence

Political figures and leading business professionals discuss potential affects artificial intelligence could have on music industry

PRS Explores Artificial Intelligence
Emma McClarkin, Andrew Burgess, Lydia Gregory, Lord Clement Jones, Matthew Hawn

PRS for Music hosted an insightful evening of discussion and debate yesterday (Thursday 17 October) at PRS Explores: Artificial Intelligence - Melody + The Machine.

Leading political figures and business professionals joined forces at PRS for Music’s King’s Cross headquarters to examine what Artificial Intelligence (AI) means for music creators today and how it may shape the future industry.

Led by Emma McClarkin, former MEP and technology and international trade specialist, a panel including Lydia Gregory, classical singer and co-founder of creative services company, FeedForward AI, and Matthew Hawn, Chief Product Officer at Audio Network delved into the topic and discussed the creative limits of a machine, whether AI, specifically Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), is a disruptive force that unsettles the already complex world of music or does it create new opportunities for creators?

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Technology is changing the world we live in, from the way we discover music to its creation, AI will bring innovation but also big questions for the industry. Just as the UK leads in music so we should in our understanding of AI and the impact it could have.

Emma McClarkin

AGI could have the capacity to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can. This includes the ability to reason, think for itself, plan, communicate and integrate these skills towards a common goal. Music in contrast, is loaded with cultural and social contexts, born out of the emotional and cerebral experiences of the music creator. If a machine can learn how to mimic human emotion, will there be a need for songwriters in the future?

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You don't reward the machine, you reward the human who created something using the machine. If you don't have a human operator for these tools, then you don't have a creative process.

Matthew Hawn

Also speaking at the event was Andrew Burgess, author of The Executive Guide to Artificial Intelligence and Lord Clement Jones, Chair of the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence. In a recent report, AI in the UK: Ready, Willing, and Able? Clement Jones recommends the establishment of a cross-sector AI code to ensure ethics take centre stage in the development of AI development and adoption. 

When asked about the possibilities AI presents to the music industry, he said: “It is not about what AI can do, but what it should do. The potential is enormous, but AI has got to be our servant, not our master.”

Despite its limitless potential, as the panel debated the current, and future, use of AI in music creation, it became clear that AI is a long way from entering an age where it can independently write songs.  

PRS for Music launched PRS Explores in 2016, with the aim of facilitating debate about change within the music industry. Previous topics have included The Music Modernization Act, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, and the EU Copyright Directive.

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Watch the PRS Explores: Artificial Intelligence event

About PRS for Music

PRS for Music represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world. As a membership organisation it works to ensure that creators are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. With over 100 representation agreements in place globally, PRS for Music's network represents over two million music creators worldwide. In 2018, 11.2 trillion performances of music were reported to PRS for Music with £746m collected on behalf of its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations. 

PRS for Music’s
public performance licensing is now carried out on PRS for Music’s behalf by PPL PRS Ltd, the new joint venture between PPL and PRS for Music

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