|FRIDAY 17 MARCH 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A plethora of organisations representing music and other creative disciplines, in the US and beyond, yesterday backed what is being called the Human Artistry Campaign, with the aim of ensuring "artificial intelligence technologies are developed and used in ways that support human culture and artistry, and not ways that replace or erode it"... [READ MORE]|
Music industry organisations back Human Artistry Campaign putting the spotlight on generative AI debates
Formally launched with a panel at South By South West in Texas, the new campaign follows the recent spike in interest in creative or generative AI technologies, ie AI tools that can generate original content by crunching a load of data linked to existing content. That increased interest has been caused by the hype surrounding various generative AI products, ChatGPT in particular.
And in music more specifically we've had Tencent bigging up its AI that can automatically create new vocals for dead artists; Spotify launching an AI-powered personalised DJ to chat away at its users; and David Guetta employing AI tools to both write and record a new Eminem track. You know, without having to bother the brain or voice of Eminem.
Just like with any new tech, but possibly more so, generative AI creates both opportunities and challenges for the music and wider creative industries, especially as that tech gets ever more sophisticated.
Music-makers can use such tech as part of the music-making process and to help them create the ever increasing stack of other content that is now involved in building and engaging a fanbase as a frontline artist. However, AI tools that make it quick and easy to compose, produce, record and master new music can quickly become a competitor of both creators and companies in the music business. Most likely initially in production and mood music, but ultimately more widely.
A set of fundamental principles published by this all new Human Artistry Campaign yesterday begins by acknowledging the opportunities, keen to stress that it's not some sort of luddite movement. The music community, it notes, has long embraced all sorts of new technologies in the music-making process, and "AI already is and will increasingly play a role as a tool to assist the creative process, allowing for a wider range of people to express themselves creatively".
"AI has many valuable uses outside of the creative process itself, including those that amplify fan connections, hone personalised recommendations, identify content quickly and accurately, assist with scheduling, automate and enhance efficient payment systems - and more", it adds. "We embrace these technological advances".
But then there are the challenges too, both legal and ethical. In legal terms, generative AI throws up a bunch of copyright questions. Two in particular. First, should content created by generative AI enjoy copyright protection, just like content created by humans? And also, do the makers of an AI technology need licences from existing copyright owners when training their tech through the mining of data related to existing content?
In the US, where there is a copyright registration process, the first question is being tackled by the US Copyright Office that handles the registrations. It has previously declined to allow an AI-created artwork to be registered. More recently it did allow the registration of a graphic novel with human created words and machine created images, but said that the individual images were not protected by copyright in isolation because of the lack of human involvement in their creation.
Yesterday the Office announced a review of all this, while also setting out its current position on whether or not AI-created works can be registered. Basically, copyright registrations will be accepted for works where a creator employed AI technologies but still led the creative process. However, registrations will be rejected where the creator merely provided 'prompts' to the AI.
The Office said in a statement: "If a work's traditional elements of authorship were produced by a machine, the work lacks human authorship and the Office will not register it. For example, when an AI technology receives solely a prompt from a human and produces complex written, visual, or musical works in response, the 'traditional elements of authorship' are determined and executed by the technology - not the human user".
Of course, every country has its own copyright rules. In the UK, copyright law does provide protection to "computer-generated works", and a recent review by the Intellectual Property Office decided that that rule should stay in place. But in many countries the rules are not that specific, meaning there is plenty of ongoing debate over whether any one country's copyright system could - not to mention should - protect AI-generated works.
As for what licences AI makers need when training their technologies, that also depends on what each country's copyright laws say.
In the US some argue that data mining - or at least some kinds of data mining - is possibly protected by the always tricky concept of fair use, which would mean a licence was not always required. In the UK it was recently proposed by the IPO that a specific copyright exception should be introduced for data mining by AI makers, though that proposal is now on hold.
On both sides of the Atlantic this particular question is set to be tested in court by Getty Images, which has sued the people behind the visual generative AI platform Stability AI in both the UK and US courts.
As for the Human Artistry Campaign, it is adamant that any data mining needs to be licensed, and that entirely AI-created works should not enjoy copyright protection. "Use of copyrighted works, and use of the voices and likenesses of professional performers, requires authorisation, licensing, and compliance with all relevant state and federal laws", it states.
And to that end, "governments should not create new copyright or other IP exemptions that allow AI developers to exploit creators without permission or compensation". Oh, and "copyright should only protect the unique value of human intellectual creativity".
Elsewhere in its fundamental principles, the campaign talks about the importance of "trustworthiness and transparency". It states: "Complete record keeping of copyrighted works, performances, and likenesses, including the way in which they were used to develop and train any AI system, is essential".
"Algorithmic transparency and clear identification of a work's provenance are foundational to AI trustworthiness", it goes on. "Stakeholders should work collaboratively to develop standards for technologies that identify the input used to create AI-generated output".
"In addition to obtaining appropriate licences, content generated solely by AI should be labeled describing all inputs and methodology used to create it - informing consumer choices, and protecting creators and rightsholders".
On top of that, "policymakers must consider the interests of human creators when crafting policy around AI. Creators live on the forefront of, and are building and inspiring, evolutions in technology and as such need a seat at the table in any conversations regarding legislation, regulation, or government priorities regarding AI that would impact their creativity and the way it affects their industry and livelihood".
Despite the legal and ethical challenges, the Human Artistry Campaign's new document does also contain some optimism, believing that the outputs of human creativity will always be better than works entirely generated by the machines.
"Creative works shape our identity, values and worldview", it says. "People relate most deeply to works that embody the lived experience, perceptions, and attitudes of others. Only humans can create and fully realise works written, recorded, created, or performed with such specific meaning. Art cannot exist independent of human culture".
Yeah, maybe. You can read the full statement and see the list of organisations backing it here.
Oh, and in case you're wondering whether ChatGPT thinks AI-created works should have copyright protection, well, "as an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions or beliefs", it says, "but I can provide information and perspectives on this topic".
"Currently, the legal framework around copyright protection for AI-created works is not entirely clear", it goes on. "In most countries, copyright law grants protection to 'original works of authorship', which are typically creations of human authors. However, the question arises whether works generated by AI should be considered as original works of authorship and therefore be protected by copyright law".
"Some argue that AI-generated works are the result of human creativity and ingenuity, and therefore, they should be subject to copyright protection", it adds. "Others argue that because AI systems are programmed and do not possess creativity or originality in the human sense, they should not be granted copyright protection".
"Overall, the answer to whether AI-created works should have copyright protection is not straightforward and depends on many factors", it then concludes. "As AI technology continues to evolve and generate increasingly complex and creative works, it will be important to re-evaluate copyright laws and determine how they can best accommodate these new forms of intellectual property".
Yeah, thanks for that ChatGPT. But I handle all the copyright chatter around here thank you very much. Well, for now at least.
US government tells Bytedance to sell TikTok to avoid a ban
This is all part of ongoing concerns among the political community in the US and elsewhere that the Chinese government has access to TikTok users and user-data via China-based Bytedance.
Trump's attempt to ban use of TikTok in the US was challenged in the American courts and therefore never went into effect. Biden than cancelled Trump's ban when he took office, even though concerns about TikTok data are shared by Democrats and Republicans alike.
More recently there have been proposals in US Congress to amend the law to make it easier for the President to ban foreign owned apps which are deemed a threat to national security, potentially making it harder for a future TikTok to be challenged in court. And the White House confirmed its support of the most recent proposals to that effect in Congress.
Talks have been ongoing between TikTok and US officials ever since Trump's attempt at a ban. Although it was proposed that Bytedance sell TikTok - or at least TikTok US - back then as well, the tech firm itself has been pushing for a compromise where American companies take a key role in its American operations, in particular Oracle.
However, despite those ongoing talks, according to the Wall Street Journal the Committee On Foreign Investment In The US, which sits under the US Treasury Department, has now told Bytedance that it should sell TikTok in order to avoid a possible ban.
TikTok continues to deny there are issues around data security on its platform, while arguing that its proposed compromise - in particular the Oracle alliance - addresses the concerns expressed by politicians within the US.
"If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn't solve the problem", TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan said yesterday. "The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, US-based protection of US user-data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing".
Beyond the US, more governments have announced restrictions on the use of TikTok by lawmakers and officials on their work devices because of the security concerns. Such restrictions have previously been announced in the US, EU and Canada. And yesterday similar restrictions were put in place in the UK and New Zealand.
In the UK, Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden confirmed that ministers and civil servants are banned from using TikTok on work devices "with immediate effect" following a review by government cybersecurity experts that began in November.
And in New Zealand, the ban relates to any devices that have access to the country's parliamentary networks and goes into effect at the end of the month.
James Morrison signs new deal with Cooking Vinyl
"I'm delighted to be working with Rob and the team at Cooking Vinyl on this new album", says Morrison. "I felt their enthusiasm and belief in me from the first moment I met them, and that's everything to me. I'm looking forward to giving them a special album that they can get to work on".
The there mentioned Rob, ie Cooking Vinyl MD Rob Collins, adds: "Cooking Vinyl has come a long way since our first artist services signing Billy Bragg in 1993, and now with the signing of an artist of James' calibre it signals our intent to continue the success we have seen with Nina Nesbitt and Passenger".
No release date has been set for the new album yet, but the label says that the first new material from it will arrive at the end of this year.
The Cure secure refunds for fans following Ticketmaster fees controversy
"Ticketmaster have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high", tweeted Cure frontman Robert Smith last night. As "a gesture of goodwill", he went on, anyone who purchased the lowest price tickets will receive a $10 refund per ticket, while anyone else who purchased through the Verified Fan system will receive $5 per ticket.
"If you already bought a ticket you will get an automatic refund", he wrote. "All tickets [going on general] sale [on Friday] will incur lower fees".
The quick resolution to this story comes, presumably, as Ticketmaster is keen to avoid further controversy about its ticket selling practices. There have been numerous complaints about various aspects of the company's operations in recent months, not least surrounding the pre-sale of Taylor Swift's US tour tickets, which sparked a hearing in US Congress.
Earlier this week, Smith criticised Ticketmaster for the high fees on the band's tickets. He said that they had chosen to use Verified Fan in order to reduce the number of tickets that would make it to resale platforms at higher prices. However, he added, he was "sickened" by the fees being charged by Ticketmaster and had "been asking [the company] how they are justified".
This is, of course, an isolated case, and it seems unlikely it will spark a more general overhaul of the fees charged by Ticketmaster. Although if more big name artists take Smith's lead, perhaps it could. That said, some would argue that if the ticketing platforms reduced their fees, inevitably the actual ticket prices would increase.
New Order use SXSW appearance to back #LetTheMusicMove campaign on US visa fee proposals
The US Department Of Homeland Security announced plans earlier this year to significantly increase the price of applying for the kinds of visas used by performers when they gig and tour in the US. Given surging production costs are already making it harder for all but the biggest artists to tour in a commercially viable way, the additional visa costs could make it impossible for many UK acts to play American shows.
The UK's Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition originally launched the #LetTheMusicMove campaign in a bid to tackle the extra bureaucracy British artists face when touring Europe post-Brexit. They then reignited the campaign with a focus on the US visa fee increases earlier this year.
At the time they explained: "The US visa office has proposed a huge increase to P&O visa fees - the short and long term work visas for creative professionals. The proposed increase to the current ... fee is from $460 to $1,655 (260%) for a regularly processed 'O' visa and $460 to $1615 (251%) for a regularly processed 'P' visa. The increase in fees will apply to all foreign performers/creative workers seeking to enter the US, not just British".
"Under these proposals, the cost of artists visas would increase by more than 250%", they added. "In the midst of the ongoing cost of living crisis and with the live sector still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, it would make performing in the world's biggest music market unaffordable for many emerging and mid-level artists".
New Order played a gig at this year's SXSW on Monday and then took part in a keynote interview on Wednesday. They are also backing the new Beyond The Music event being staged in Manchester later this year, which was also formally launched in Austin this week.
Confirming their support for the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, the band say in a statement: "The influence of New York club culture has been pivotal to the evolution of New Order, from our initial shows at legendary long-lost venues like Tier 3, Hurrah and the Peppermint Lounge to our recent arena tour with the Pet Shop Boys. Being able to perform to North American audiences has been absolutely crucial to us as a band".
And that, they add, is why they "share the concerns of musicians around the world with these proposed visa increases for international artists. For a new band, a 250% increase in visa costs, on top of all the other financial pressures facing artists right now, might be the final nail in the coffin for touring. Through our support of the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, we want the US government to rethink these policy changes and look to alternative measures that encourage greater musical exchange, not less".
New Order join the likes of Rina Sawayama, Howard Jones, Hot Chip, Idles, Steam Down and Primal Scream in backing the latest #LetTheMusicMove campaign. Welcoming that backing, MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick and FAC CEO David Martin say: "We are hugely grateful to New Order for their backing of the #LetTheMusicMove campaign to stop these hugely damaging proposals".
"That they have done so at SXSW is particularly pertinent", the add. "Excluding American acts, Britain has the biggest delegation of artists performing at official SXSW showcases. It is precisely these kinds of artists that will be forced to cancel their US touring plans if the DHS proposals come into effect".
Italy's SIAE hits out at Meta after repertoire exclusion
Meta, of course, needs licences from the music industry covering all the songs and recordings that are included in videos uploaded by its users to its platforms.
Because, while the good old copyright safe harbour does provide some protections to platforms whose users upload music without licence, that is not the case when social media apps facilitate the insertion of the music, as has become more common.
And, of course, in Europe the safe harbour was revised in the 2019 Copyright Directive, specifically increasing the obligations of user-upload platforms.
So, Meta needs a SIAE licence if its users are making use of songs represented by the society. However, it seems, Meta's most recent licence expired at the start of the year and negotiations to renew it have proven tricky. Leading to Meta's decision to just exclude SIAE's repertoire.
Criticising that move, SIEA said in a statement yesterday that: "Meta's unilateral decision to exclude SIAE's repertoire from its library has left Italian authors and publishers bewildered".
Commenting on recent licensing negotiations with the social media firm, the statement went on: "SIAE is being asked to accept Meta's unilateral proposal, regardless of any transparent and shared evaluation of the actual value of the repertoire. This position, along with Meta's refusal to share relevant information for a fair agreement, is evidently in contrast with the principles established by the Copyright Directive for which authors and publishers across Europe have strongly advocated".
"This decision is striking, considering the ongoing negotiation, and the full availability of SIAE to sign a licence for the proper use of protected content under transparent conditions", it continued. "Such openness is demonstrated by the fact that SIAE has continued to seek an agreement with Meta in good faith, despite the platform being without a licence since 1 Jan 2023".
Concluding, the society's statement said: "SIAE will not accept impositions from an entity that exploits its position of strength to obtain savings at the expense of the Italian creative industry".
This morning the Independent Music Publishers International Forum also issued a statement on the situation, saying: "IMPF condemns in the strongest possible terms Meta's decision to exclude the Italian society of authors and publishers' repertoire from its platforms. The move is nothing short of a bullying tactic used to force SIAE to accept a one-sided proposal that disregards any reasonable, shared evaluation of the value of music".
"Furthermore", it went on, "Meta's refusal to share relevant information to establish a fair agreement is in direct contrast with the principles established by the Copyright Directive, which has been strongly advocated for by authors and publishers across Europe".
"Meta has now been without a licence for SIAE repertoire since 1 Jan 2023, despite SIAE having remained open to signing an agreement in good faith", it concluded.
"Instead, Meta has decided to use its position as a corporate mega power to hold artists at gunpoint and undervalue their hard work and creativity. This coercive, dishonest behaviour is not acceptable and sends a very worrying signal to the rest of the music business and the wider creative industries. Fair and honest negotiation is the only way forward. Meta needs to retract".
The UK's Featured Artists Coalition has announced 20 new Artist Ambassadors. They are Beabadoobee, Portishead's Adrian Utley, Steve Mason, Maya Jane Coles, Mr Scruff, Carl Cox, Laura Jones, Constant Follower, Hamish Hawk, Idlewild's Rod Jones, Andro, She Drew The Gun's Louisa Roach, Big Joanie, New Pagans, Band Of Skulls' Russell Marsden, Keedz, Lex Amor, Emmavie, Emily Saunders and Billie Marten. "The 20 artists announced today are testament to the creativity, diversity and talent that the UK has to offer", says CEO David Martin.
Universal Music has appointed Michelle Teh as SVP of its Global Classics & Jazz division. "I'm delighted to welcome Michelle to our division and am THRILLED to have such an experienced, forward-thinking and revered executive on board, who can further drive the prosperity of our world-renowned and upcoming artists", says the division's CEO Dickon Stainer. "Michelle has a brilliant track record of attracting diverse audience sectors to different types of music, and her experience will help us build on our successes so far".
Warner Music's 300 Entertainment has promoted Ryan McTaggart to SVP Artist Development & Lifestyle Marketing, Gary 'Bolo' Sargeant to VP Urban & Rhythm Promotion, and Michael McArthur to VP A&R. "Ryan, Bolo, and Michael are dynamic team players with innovative ideas, respect for the culture and unwavering support for our artists", says Co-Presidents Rayna Bass and Selim Bouab. "They're integral to the continued success and growth of 300 Entertainment. We'd like to congratulate them as they embark on another chapter with the company in these new roles".
EDUCATION & EVENTS
Talent development organisation UD has announced the line-up for its Industry Takeover festival, including conversations with Ray BLK and 0207 Def Jam co-Presidents Alex and Alec Boateng. UD Founder and CEO Pamela McCormick says: "This year's programme for Industry Takeover is bigger and bolder than ever before, with 20 events across seven days in our brand new state-of-the art Talent House". It all takes place from 27 Mar to 2 Apr. More info here.
Lewis Capaldi has released new single 'How I'm Feeling Now'. The track shares its title with the new Netflix documentary about the musician, which is set to arrive on 5 Apr.
The Chemical Brothers have released new single 'No Reason'. Why? Oh... because. That's why. It's their first new music since 2021 and the duo are currently working on the follow-up to their 2019 album 'No Geography'.
Krept & Konan have released new single 'Nights Uptown (Krept Freestyle)'. "The freestyle covers different aspects of my life today", says Krept. "From the upside and progression in my life mixed with the downsides. It was like a mini vent of how I feel today in this precise moment".
Phoenix have released new single 'After Midnight', featuring Clairo. "We've loved Claire since day one", say the band. "What a treat it is to have her sing with us! We hope you'll enjoy it as much as we do".
Alison Goldfrapp will release her debut solo album 'The Love Invention' on 12 May. Out now is new single 'So Hard So Hot'. "I wanted to do something that had that very clubby, acid-y feeling to it", she says of the track. "But I wanted lightness to come out of the chorus - there's tension there, as well as euphoric freedom".
Feist has released new single 'Borrow Trouble'. "It began as a contemplative acoustic morality tale and shape shifted itself into the sound of trouble itself", she says. "It's a mess that holds its own logic. It's the convincing cacophony that thoughts can be".
Odesza have released new single 'To Be Yours', featuring Claud. "'To Be Yours' was a track that we had originally started back at the end of 2018", say the duo. "We loved the idea but struggled to find the right fit for the song until Claud sent us back their incredible vocal top line. As soon as we heard what Claud put together, we knew we had something special. The vocal melodies and delivery complement the track in such a perfect way. We couldn't be happier with how this one came together and are really excited for people to hear it".
Jon Hopkins has released a new piano version of Anna's recent ambient track 'Receiving'. He says: "As a starting point, I made a drone part out of the zither performance, then dropped the tempo and pitch of Anna's beat elements to form a very deep and slow heartbeat-like pulse. I then wrote the piano part on top of this combination. What came out feels a little like a companion to [his latest album] 'Sit Around The Fire'".
Matthew Herbert will release new album 'The Horse' on 26 May. The record is a collaboration with The London Contemporary Orchestra, Sons Of Kemet's Shabaka Hutchings and Theon Cross, Seb Rochford and Kokoroko's Edward Waliki-Hick. From it, this is 'The Horse Has A Voice'.
Isabella Lovestory has released new single 'Latina'. It is, she says, "a song about the empowerment of being Latina, as well as redefining the nuance of this empowerment. Tongue-in-cheek and playful, it's a song that celebrates being Latina without being cliche and 'dove commercial' about it. It's a commentary on the tokenising of latinidad, reclaiming the uniqueness and poignancy of every experience each Latina has".
Jesus Piece have released new track 'Silver Lining'. The band's new album '...So Unknown' is out on 14 Apr.
Pao Pestana has released new single 'Nmigo'. "It's a badass don't fuck with me song", she says. "Sometimes we need that energy, especially women. I remember all the incredible women in my life that I admire, and how hard they work on developing their talents and sometimes we are not taken seriously because of many reasons, so I wanted this song to feel like a team of powerful women that are following their call no matter the adversities. We are powerful".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
BTS's J-Hope announces plans to enlist in South Korean military
In a message to fans on WeVerse, he said: "I can't tell you exactly in detail, but I have the date to enlist already. It's time to get ready".
The 29 year old is now under a year away from the deadline by which he must enlist. He follows bandmate Jin, who signed up in November, just before his 30th birthday.
"Since Jin enlisted, I thought about when I should do it, but I decided to go as soon as possible and show you a better side of myself", J-Hope continued. "Right when I got the notice, Jin contacted me. I asked a lot of questions and Jin gave me advice on what I needed".
"My goal during my time in the military", he added, "is not to get old. Don't get old, and stay in good condition".
So, fans can look forward to seeing a spring chicken-like Jin's return to music in 2025.