“There are very few companies respecting intellectual property rights in this space”: Producer BT blasts “abhorrent” misuse of AI technology in music

“Some are flagrantly flaunting their first-to-market status.”

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BT in the studio

Image: Lacy Transeau

AI in music continues to be a hotly contested topic, with some optimistic of its potential to streamline the creative process, and others critical of its lack of regulation and the exploitative nature of some artificial intelligence companies.

In a wide-ranging new conversation with MusicTech, US producer Brian Wayne Transeau – better known as BT – speaks at length about his opinions on AI in music, offering a measured viewpoint that takes into account both sides of the argument.

First, he takes aim at the “abhorrent misuse” of AI by companies which don’t obtain consent or respect the intellectual property rights of artists.

“I’m a strong believer that the future of music is human,” he says. “I also strongly believe in consensual, ethically trained AI, and there are very few companies respecting intellectual property rights in this space. Some are flagrantly flaunting their first-to-market status from trading text-to-music models by scraping Spotify and YouTube.

“I find this an abhorrent misuse of this technology, one which I believe that, when used responsibly, will unlock infinite creative potential in the next generation of music creators.”

He goes on: “Our large label music partners told us a story about a CEO that came to see them (probably a service you have heard of) where they are clearly in violation of training on IP-protected works just to speed-run a product to market. They asked them how they had trained and he said, ‘We would rather ask for forgiveness than permission.’

“This kind of thinking and irresponsibility could destroy music. Full stop. We must rally against this kind of unbelievable irresponsibility in the development community.”

BT in the studio
Image: Lacy Transeau

BT is, however, optimistic about the way AI could enhance music production and creation in the future, but stresses that litigation to combat exploitation is crucial if artists are to benefit as best they can.

“For artists that have a large corpus of work, through a lot of new laws, litigation and the music industry sticking together, they will have a completely new ancillary revenue stream unlocked,” he says.

“This will be through allowing consensual training on their work and fractionalised revenue share model for different types of tasks, engineering, patch making, and things that are real friction points in the music creation process that take us out of ‘flow’ while we create.

“I’m thrilled about tools that will fairly reward artists they are trained on that unlock brand-new possibilities for young and seasoned artists alike… There are unimaginable future technologies that all artists, singers, producers and engineers will love to use because they do groundbreaking things they currently don’t have access to.”

“So my measured TL;DR answer is: The future is bright and we must as a community (musicians) proactively control and be involved in the narrative of what is acceptable, what is ethical and all couched in a reverence and respect for the large bodies of work created that are needed to train on for effective new tools. There is a lot to look forward to.”


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