Jun 27, 2024 2 min read

What is OK in the world of music AI? New organisation to develop industry standards

A panel of music industry professionals will be convened by a new organisation called AI:OK with the aim of agreeing global industry standards for the use of music in AI, and AI in music. Founder Martin Clancy says “we’re dedicated to making sure AI is used ethically”

What is OK in the world of music AI? New organisation to develop industry standards

A new organisation called AI:OK has officially launched aiming to develop global industry standards and a kitemark scheme to allow people to “easily identify music that is ethically produced in the era of AI”. Based out of Dublin City University with support from the Irish government, AI:OK will form an advisory council of music industry professionals to discuss and determine “what is OK” when it comes to the development and use of AI in music. 

“We’re dedicated to making sure AI is used ethically, and that creators and consumers share the same confidence in the music we all listen to and create together”, says Martin Clancy, founder of the new scheme. “With AI continuing to evolve at a staggering rate, we felt it necessary to bring the music industry this much needed step forward”. 

There is a general consensus within the music community regarding the legal and ethical obligations of technology companies making use of existing music when developing generative AI models. That being that permission must be sought from the music industry. 

Many AI companies disagree on that point, although some are looking to collaborate with the industry as they develop their technologies. The aim of programmes like AI:OK is to recognise and champion that approach. The ambition is that musicians, creators and music fans will be influenced by an AI:OK kitemark when choosing AI tools and music generated by AI.

There is, however, disagreement within the music community over the extent to which record labels and music publishers can license recordings and songs they own to AI companies without the specific consent of artists and songwriters. 

As a result, there is disagreement within the industry about what is “OK” - meaning that AI platforms deemed “OK” by labels and publishers may not have the approval of artists and songwriters. It remains to be seen if AI:OK’s advisory council can find some kind of consensus so that any AI platforms the scheme endorses are definitely “OK” with the entire music community. 

There are parallels between AI:OK and both DDEX - the standards organisation for digital music metadata - and Fairly Trained - the initiative founded by Ed Newton-Rex to certify generative AI companies with “training data practices that respect creators’ rights”. AI:OK says it is already liaising with both DDEX and Fairy Trained. 

Confirming that, Newton-Rex says, “I am delighted to see AI:OK working to address the huge challenge that is AI in the music ecosystem. Where Fairly Trained has a narrow focus on training data in a broad set of creative industries, AI:OK has a wider focus on responsible AI issues, specifically in the music industry. It will take a village to resolve the issues in generative AI, and Fairly Trained looks forward to working closely with AI:OK to build that village”.  

AI:OK adds that it has also “received initial letters of support from organisations including A2IM, Music Sweden and Ableton”, and has had “positive and constructive discussions with UK Music and its community of members including the Music Producers Guild, AIM and PPL”.

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