The music industry is talking – a LOT – about artificial intelligence technologies in 2023. But it’s also becoming clear that a growing number of musicians are getting hands-on with this tech to see what it can do for their music and wider creative activities.

A study published by distributor TuneCore offers some new numbers on that. It surveyed 1,558 independent artists about AI, and found that 50% were “aware and engaged in AI” with a “positive perception of its benefits and opportunities”. However, 39% were “unaware and apathetic toward AI” with “fears and concerns with the technology”.

As for usage, TuneCore found that 27% of the artists it surveyed had already used some form of AI music tools. Of that group, 57% had used them to create artwork; 37% to create promo assets; and 20% to engage fans. Overall, 35% said they are interested in using generative AI in their creative process, with marketing and promotion (31%) a particular desire.

The report also has some interesting data on the use of music to train creative AIs. 50% of the artists surveyed showed “a willingness to offer their music for machine learning while placing a strong emphasis on adopting a responsible approach when it comes to AI”.

What does that mean? Three expectations stand out strongly in the report: that such training requires their permission, and that it offers them both compensation AND credit.

This is driven by some of their key concerns: 77% are worried about being replaced by AI-generated music, while 61% have concerns about plagiarism; 58% about correct attribution of AIs’ creative inputs; and 46% about the fair distribution of recorded-music revenues.

“TuneCore’s main priorities lie in the interests of our artists, so the responses to this survey will help us enable them to utilise AI on our platform with consent, control, transparency, and fair monetary compensation,” said CEO Andreea Gleeson. Her company recently signed a deal with artist Grimes around her AI ‘voiceprint’ licensing, to that end.

It’s a timely study, and one that sits neatly next to another piece of recent research from UK charity Youth Music, which claimed that 63% of young (16-24 year-old) musicians said they would be likely to use AI to assist them in creativity.

The stereotype of the music industry is that when it sees a new, disruptive technology, it reacts with fear, loathing and lawsuits. These studies paint a much more nuanced picture from the standpoint of individual musicians.

A growing number of them are interested in and engaging with creative AI tools, and see positive potential in them. And this engagement in turn is informing their concerns about how these technologies might be used less positively. Those worries should thus carry more weight and be taken seriously.

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