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MU Assistant General Secretary Discusses Concerns About AI and Songwriting on BBC Newsnight

What could AI mean for your rights as a musician, and what could it mean for audiences? MU Assistant General Secretary Phil Kear appeared on BBC Newsnight to discuss the topic.

Published: 18 January 2023 | 2:48 PM Updated: 19 January 2023 | 10:35 AM
Phil Kear speaking at the MU Orchestra Conference
Could a listener find the same emotional connection to a song if it was written by a machine? Photo credit: Musicians’ Union

With the rise of Artificial Intelligence chat bots such as ChatGPT, there are concerns in the creative industries about the way that this technology could impact on both creators and audiences.

In a widely read newsletter published on Monday 16 January, musician and songwriter Nick Cave referred to a song written “in the style of Nick Cave” by ChatGPT as “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human”.

MU Assistant General Secretary Phil Kear appeared on BBC Newsnight to discuss the topic.

He raised points such as how the AIs would need to be trained using work produced by musicians, and how these musicians would have to be properly credited and renumerated, “you need to have a look behind how these AIs are trained."

And in the other direction, Phil pointed out how the audience "want to feel an attachment to the person who wrote the song." He questioned what would happen when we remove this human side from a music creation, and whether a listener could get the same emotional connection out of a song written by a machine.

The discussion can be viewed in full on BBC iPlayer, or you can follow the relevant highlights on our Instagram reel.

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