Musicians Divided: Concerns and Potential in the Age of AI-Generated Music

As the omnipresence of artificial intelligence (AI) continues to redefine industries across the globe, the music sector finds itself at a crossroads. It’s eagerly embracing AI’s transformative capabilities while warily weighing the potential risks to artistic authenticity.

A recent survey, conducted by the exclusive music studio enclave Pirate, uncovered that more than half of musicians, a substantial 53%, harbor reservations about how their audience might perceive music created with the assistance of AI. These sentiments were expressed by 1,141 artists hailing from the United Kingdom, United States, and Germany, spanning a spectrum of roles, from band members to singer-songwriters, producers, instrumentalists, and rappers.

The survey also unveiled artists’ hesitancy in adopting AI in the studio, with just a quarter (25%) claiming to have prior experience with this technology. However, a noteworthy 46% expressed a willingness to explore AI tools in their creative process in the future.

Christoph Krey, a member of the Brooklyn-based band MYAI, revealed that their group employs AI in approximately 30% of their artistic endeavors, reserving the remaining 70% for what they whimsically termed “art intelligence.” Krey acknowledges the potential hurdles artists face in integrating AI into their creative processes, adding that it’s “one more thing that artists now have to do on top of everything else they have to do to create value.”

Pirate’s co-founder and CEO, David Borrie, acknowledges the trepidation that artists feel about AI adoption and the apprehension surrounding public perception. Nevertheless, he likens AI’s current journey to the music industry to the emergence of Auto-Tune, which faced criticism in its early days but eventually became a staple in contemporary music production. He sees AI potentially following a similar trajectory as both artists and audiences adapt to this innovative technology.

For artists already integrating AI into their creative processes, the survey revealed that it is primarily being used in “songwriting and composition.”

The CEO of the Recording Academy, the institution behind the iconic Grammy Awards, views AI as a “creative amplifier” for artists who incorporate it into their work.

However, challenges have emerged concerning the recognition of AI-generated music. Notably, a track that incorporated an AI-generated vocal track resembling rapper Drake went viral, with its creator seeking nomination. The Academy rejected the submission due to copyright concerns, acknowledging that AI’s role in music is a swiftly evolving and complex issue.

The Recording Academy has established formal rules for AI-generated music, mandating that a human must create the primary components of nominated tracks. For instance, to win an award for vocal performance, the vocal must be delivered by a human artist.

Major players in the music industry, such as Universal Music, are proactively addressing AI usage. Universal Music has partnered with Google to combat AI-generated impersonations of its artists and has petitioned streaming services, like Spotify, to remove AI-generated tracks from their platforms. The evolving interplay between AI and music is poised to shape the industry in unpredictable ways.