Believe UK managing director Alex Kennedy has urged the music business to embrace the opportunities offered by AI.
The Paris-headquartered digital music company has been bullish about the potential benefits of artificial intelligence for the industry.
Its TuneCore subsidiary partnered with Grimes and AI development studio CreateSafe earlier this year as part of Believe's wider AI strategy, and enabled TuneCore artists to distribute collaborations created through Grimes' Elf.Tech AI to all major streaming platforms.
"I think we should all be looking at [AI] as an opportunity," said Kennedy, speaking in the latest issue of Music Week. "The music industry is generally in a much better place than we have been in the past when it comes to technological disintermediation. We have our house in order a lot better and the relationships that we have with the DSPs are such that this isn’t going to be something that comes in and destroys everything that everybody’s built.
"If we deal with it correctly, this is going to be something additive - the onus is on us to work together."
We tend to look at AI from a, ‘What’s it going to do for artists?’ side, but the business side is fascinating as well
Kennedy suggested there were a myriad of ways in which AI could increase efficiencies for labels and creativity for clients.
"It’s going to mean that artists who might not be classically trained in certain instruments are able to have help to build songs," he said. "We tend to look at it from a, ‘What’s it going to do for artists?’ side, but the business side is fascinating as well if you think about a levelling of the playing field. I think there will be a bit of a democratisation of some of those outputs, which can only be good for the industry in general.”
TuneCore conducted a survey of nearly 1,600 self-releasing artists from more than 10 countries to determine the use and sentiment surrounding AI in the independent music community. Kennedy noted that the views expressed were mixed.
"It was mainly positive, but there’s definitely some trepidation and I think we need to be super-sensitive around that," he said.
Out of all survey respondents, 27% had already used AI Music tools, with artists most interested in using AI during the creative process or to help with marketing and developing their fanbase. 50% of respondents reported a willingness to offer their music for machine learning, while placing a strong emphasis on adopting a responsible approach to AI.
Upon the publication of the results over the summer, Believe founder and CEO Denis Ladegaillerie declared that generative AI and AI "will open a new age of creativity and discovery, and transform in a positive manner every aspect of our partnerships with artists and the way we partner with digital music services".
"This is why it is essential that our strategy as a company is aligned with that of our artists: that of a responsible approach to AI and to the exciting opportunities and future use cases that we will develop as a core part of our mission to serve all artists, at each stage of their career, with respect, fairness, expertise and transparency," he added.
Generative AI - and AI in general - is an opportunity for the music industry. But as people who represent rights, we need to be incredibly responsible
Kennedy, who joined Believe last year, is very much on the same page.
“As a business, digital and technological innovation has been the core of our DNA since we started," he said. "I think Denis is absolutely right when he says that generative AI - and AI in general - is an opportunity for the music industry. But as people who represent rights, we need to be incredibly responsible.
"We’ve got four key areas when it comes to AI - consent being one of them. Control is number two - making sure that any of the outputs that come out of any testing or learning that we’re doing on the AI front is directly associated with the artists and label copyrights that we represent.
"The third one is making sure that if our artists and labels are participating in any monetisation opportunities, they’re getting a commensurate remuneration. And finally, transparency – making sure that we’re signposting anything we’re doing from day one. We’re trying to make sure we’re ultra clear about how we’re approaching this."
Believe UK triumphed in the label/artist services category at this year's Music Week Awards following a banner year in which they worked on Knucks’ breakthrough campaign and completed label deals with Hospital and Rinse. It also solidified its UK leadership team earlier this year by promoting Malena Wolfer to director of artist services, Ben Rimmer to regional director, label & artist solutions and Panos Polimatidis to head of label and artist solutions.
"We’ve now reached a critical threshold where we think we’re perfectly placed to accelerate the growth of the business and have all the expertise that we need," said Kennedy. "We’re probably the fourth biggest overall [services] business now on the recorded side and our aim is to try and catch up to one of the major [services businesses] over the next five or so years. With our current rate of growth, we believe we can catch up.
"We want to get a lot more focused in our strategy and make sure that we’re focusing on set genres and types of artists and labels that we can deliver the most value for. We don’t want to be all things to all people, we want to have an absolute premium service."
Subscribers can read the full Music Week Interview with Alex Kennedy in our current issue, or click here.