With AI already invading the music industry, as seen by Randy Travis’ publication of a new song employing AI technology, Sony is advising hundreds of companies not to exploit musicians signed to its labels in AI applications without authorization.

According to NBC News, Sony Music Group (SMG) has sent legal letters to over 700 generative AI businesses and streaming platforms, preventing them from using SMG music without clear licensing arrangements. SMG is home to Columbia Records, RCA Records, and Epic Records.

In the letter, Sony acknowledged the “significant potential and advancement of” artificial intelligence. “However, unauthorized use of SMG Content in the training, development, or commercialization of AI systems deprives SMG Companies and SMG Talent of control over and appropriate compensation for the uses of SMG Content, conflicts with the normal exploitation of those works, unreasonably prejudices our legitimate interests, and infringes our intellectual property.

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Jon Accarrino, the founder of Ordo Digital and an AI strategy consultant, tells Inside Radio that by taking preemptive action, SMG is not only preserving its content but also setting industry norms for how AI businesses should treat intellectual property.

“SMG isn’t wrong to be concerned about AI companies using their music libraries for training purposes without permission,” he stated. “Sony’s pre-emptive letters demonstrate a proactive strategy for protecting intellectual property, in contrast to the reactive measures seen in the New York Times’ litigation against AI companies such as OpenAI.” SMG should consider negotiating compensation deals with AI businesses before it’s too late (if not already).

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While Accarrino claims SMG has “valid concerns” about its music content being used to train AI models without permission, there are still a variety of reasons audio firms might explore collaborating with AI startups.

Among them: assistance in the creative process, from song lyrics to brainstorming ideas and the creation of new types of music; the improvement of music discovery tools, making it easier for listeners to discover new music; and better data analysis, with AI studying trends and listener preferences, adding valuable insights to music libraries and assisting music companies in making better, more informed marketing and production decisions, among other AI features.

SMG’s letter requests that the companies affirm that they did not use any Sony artists without authorization and offer information on how it may have been used in AI training.

“Technological advances have regularly altered the trajectory of creative industries. The letter indicated that AI is likely to continue this long-standing trend. “However, that innovation must ensure that songwriters’ and recording artists’ rights, including copyrights, are respected.”