Artificial intelligence is shaping up to be the largest disruptor to the music industry since digital downloads, and it poses one of the most important existential questions to music creation the art form itself has ever faced. As much-covered chatbots like ChatGPT and a growing list of AI songwriting software show, the AI music revolution is closer than anyone previously thought. Now, some of the largest advocacy groups in music are looking to get in front of the tech and ensure a future in which AI doesn’t replace human music creators.
The Human Artistry Campaign officially launched on Thursday at SXSW in Austin, backed by a list of over 40 founding major music and entertainment organizations including the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Recording Academy, the Music Artist Coalition, SAG-AFTRA, the Songwriters of North America and the National Music Publishers Association.
The organization’s call comes at an unprecedented time for the development of AI. While no tool has proven capable of spewing out a fully-formed Grammy-worthy pop song yet, the concept is growing fast. AI songwriting tools like Soundful and Boomy give users melodies and beats to use for songs in seconds at the push of a button. And while Nick Cave certainly didn’t seem impressed, chatbots can be tasked with writing songs in the stylings of an artist of their choosing. Meanwhile AI voice cloning software is getting closer to replicating celebrity voices, with ridiculous AI-generated Biden speeches going viral on TikTok.
“There is so much potential with AI. But it also presents risks to our creative community,” Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, said in a statement. “It’s crucial that we get this right early on so we don’t risk losing the artistic magic that only humans can create.”
The campaign acknowledged that AI will be useful in helping with creative expression, but it wants to center all advancements around human creators. With its launch, the group established several principles about ethical use of AI based around potential issues like copyright infringement, transparency and government policy.
“Human artistry is irreplicable. Recent developments in AI are remarkable, but we have seen the costs before of rushing heedlessly forward without real thought or respect for law and rights,” RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier said. “Our principles are designed to chart a healthy path for AI innovation that enhances and rewards human artistry, creativity, and performance.”
Among its seven listed principles, the campaign said that use of both copyrighted material and the voice and likeness of creators must require licenses and authorization. It also called on state and federal governments to ensure they wouldn’t create any exemptions for AI developers to skirt copyright, and that AI work itself wouldn’t get copyright protection if the work didn’t involve human creation. The campaign’s advocacy points along with its full list of participating companies and a petition are available on its website.
“It comes down to respect for creative workers and their craft,” SAG-AFTRA’s national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement. “We have long fought for protections against misappropriation of our members’ voices, likenesses and performances, and we are excited to continue that vital work in conjunction with our coalition partners. As technology continues to improve storytelling, we want to ensure humans are always at the center of the story.”