AI-generated music is fast becoming a reality. Thanks to tools like Meta’s MusicZen, it’s now possible to make half as good songs in many genres without ever learning to play an instrument, read sheet music, or use a DAW.
But while the creative potential of generative AI music tools is nothing short of extraordinary, the tools also threaten the copyrighted status quo of the music industry. That’s because, in order to “learn” to create new songs, the tool needs to be “trained” on a huge database of existing songs—not always with the blessing of artists.
This is pitting musicians against labels. Universal Music Group has labeled all AI-generated music using the voices of existing artists as “fraud”. Art-pop musician Grimes, on the other hand, vowed to allow AI to use her voice in music without penalty.
The rules surrounding AI-generated music are currently unclear. Several lawsuits making their way through the courts will have an impact on music-generating AI, including one concerning the rights of artists whose work is used to train AI systems without their knowledge or consent. But it will take months for the first rulings to be made public and potentially months more if cases are appealed.
Meanwhile, some startups, attempting to get ahead of regulators, are proposing their own standards around generative music IP. One is Itoka, which was recently accepted into the Allen Institute for AI’s Startup Incubation Program.
Itoka, co-founded by Malcolm Yang and Yihao Chen, seeks to “tokenize” music content, especially AI-generated content, on the blockchain so that creators can freely license that content and use it every time. can use it. But compensation is possible. Itoka plans to temporarily retain ownership of the songs and give creators full licenses for their commercial use, while at the same time preventing plagiarism and “illegal monetization” on its platform.
“Itoka is a decentralized music platform that we developed to enable data self-sovereignty, sustainability of music storage, digital rights management, global music access, and creator governance,” Yang and Chen told TechCrunch in an email interview. ” “”We set a new paradigm for copyright protection that does not rely on a physical Copyright Office but on code-driven smart contracts to enforce legal standing.”
If the idea of licensing a blockchain — a shared, immutable ledger to track assets — sounds familiar, that’s because Itoka isn’t the first startup to attempt to do so.
Just a few months ago, Web3 project Dequency launched a decentralized portal for music rights holders and creators that apparently allows for easy licensing and payment for content. Around the same time, music producer Justin Blau, also known as 3LAU, launched a song licensing service called Royal, which in collaboration with popular rapper Nas, allowed fans to earn non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which Some artists gave them ownership rights. Songs.
But with its blockchain-based licensing scheme, Itoka offers music creation tools powered by music-generating AI models. And it plans to partner with musicians who contribute for AI training purposes on a compensation plan.
Yang and Chen said, “In the future, everyone will have the power to generate music, and a large amount of quality music will be produced daily for various purposes.” “As music production gets democratised, the current music industry setup and its monopoly will reduce drastically. This will urge people to rethink the creativity and artistry in content creation.”
Itoka’s music production tools, at least as they exist today, are simpler than those lofty words might suggest.
After creating an account, users can choose from a range of genres and emotions—including “EDM,” “Hip Hop,” “Loffie” and “Emotional”—and let Itoka’s engine automatically play a five-track track in the background. . to generate the song. After choosing album art for a new song, Itoka throws users into a block-based composing interface where they can edit aspects of the song such as tempo, bass, and chords.
The AI is nowhere near as strong or capable as a text-to-music system like the aforementioned MusicGen. But Itoka emphasizes ease of use over customizability.
Once a song is created, it can be listed on the Itoka Marketplace for licensing. Yang and Chen claim that to date over 1,900 songs have been created through the platform and that those songs have been collectively listened to for over 3 million minutes.
This is a respectable start. But my question is, who would license a library of AI-generated songs – especially songs that sound relatively common compared to the average royalty-free music library?
Yang and Chen say they’re going after game developers as one of their top customer segments — developers who would normally license from one of the larger content libraries. For that, Itoka has partnerships with Canva and “multiple game studios” — for content licensing — which Yang and Chen won’t say.
“In the future, we will be happy to move to other customer areas and provide the most suitable facilities and solutions,” Yang and Chen said. “There are some AI-friendly musicians who want to help us push the boundaries of technology and musical creativity, and we sincerely hope we can achieve greatness together with them.”
only time will tell.