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UK Music Chief Asks Orchestras To Back Campaign Against “Music Laundering”

UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl participated in a high profile panel on the impact of artificial intelligence on classical music at the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) conference in Bristol.

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26.01.2024: UK Music Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl participated in a high profile panel on the impact of artificial intelligence on classical music at the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) conference in Bristol.

Speaking to senior representatives from the world of classical music, Tom Kiehl set out UK Music’s response to the exponential growth in technological development and perceived threats and opportunities of AI on the music industry.

He highlighted that while AI can be a great tool for assisting creativity there are very real concerns that existing music is being used to train AI systems without any financial compensation for the original creators and those that invest in them. UK Music has described these practices by some AI companies as “music laundering”.

He highlighted the cross-sector collaboration that resulted in Government last year reversing plans for a damaging new exception to copyright for text and data mining purposes and explained how the sector had been engaging with ministers and officials further on the issue of AI.

Tom told over 100 delegates on Thursday (January 25) from organisations such as Glyndbourne, the BBC and British Council that a number of protections were needed to ensure AI enhances, rather than erodes, the ability to create music.

Tom said the Government needed to make a clear statement about the current legal framework and the importance of musicians, composers and music companies provided an opportunity to consent before their work is used for AI.

However, other measures, such as placing requirements on AI companies to provide records of the music their systems are trained on, the labelling of AI music to help fans identify what is and isn’t human created and exploring how rights around personality can be strengthened in the UK in the face of deep fakes, are desperately needed too.

In response to questions from the audience, Tom made a specific plea to the classical music sector for help:

“If you have evidence that your music is being used without permission by AI firms, this will really strengthen our case for government action. Conversely, if you have found constructive ways to work collaboratively with these companies then this will be of benefit too as we help the sector navigate AI.”

Tom acknowledged that the legislative process can be slow, particularly when AI’s advancement is happening now, and struck a positive note when asked about where these existential issues may end up:-

“At the end of the day AI may only be as good as the last thing it’s trained.  So, when it comes to music I’m confident that the human factor can go beyond that and this will ultimately win out in terms of what people want to listen to.”

Tom was joined on the panel by composer Rob Laidlow, Florence Ware (Head of Change at Global) and Ewa Bogusz-Moore (General and Programme Director, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra), who all offered their own insights and perspectives of working with AI in the classical music sector. The panel was chaired by Elena Dubinets (Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra).

To find out more read the five key principles that the music industry think the Government should adopt to regulate AI here

Read the UK Music Manifesto for Music for our clear asks to Government on AI here.

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