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Technology’s impact on the future of music - WR #178
Weekly Roundups
September 8, 2023

Technology’s impact on the future of music - WR #178

From user-centric models to AI, a lot of tech has been at the center of attention this week. Let’s see what we got these last few days.

#1. Deezer and Universal are setting up a user-centric model

Deezer and Universal Music Group (UMG) have unveiled a new "artist-centric" streaming royalty model this week. Tough to miss in the various music industry-focused medias, the model is said to be designed to better reward professional artists and music actively sought by users.

This would work based on tracks gathering 1 000 monthly streams and 500 unique listeners per month, which could see their royalties doubled. Additionally, music actively searched for by a user will receive a further "double boost" in royalties. Even if some questions remain (are we really being fairer with this model? Should we think about another way to pay artists under a 1 000 monthly streams?), there’s a clear willingness to make a move in a new direction.

This artist-centric model is set to address core problems of the streaming music industry, such as increasing music commodification, excessive music releases, and fraudulent activity. By rewarding active listening and actively searched music, the model seeks to promote more meaningful engagement with music. In an ocean of content, UMG and Deezer are trying to helping to combat the oversupply of content and make royalties fairer for artists. However, the model's impact on emerging artists and its potential for consolidation of funds among the top artists and labels have sparked debates on how to best rebalance the streaming economy in favor of both established and rising talents.

#2. What’s next for voice cloning in Music?

It didn’t skip anyone’s mind that a “fake Drake” track had gained a lot of attention regarding the impact of AI in the music industry. AI cloning is going to stay for a while and surely change some work methods.

This technology lets really anyone blend voices from different artists, creating 'deepfake' song versions. Of course, AI voice cloning's rapid evolution raises questions about ethics and implications. While some homemade AI cover songs are shared for fun on platforms like TikTok and YouTube, others are monetized, leading to copyright disputes. Now, the industry is exploring legal alternatives for artists to license their AI voice models, similar to streaming platforms.

This tech raises ethical questions about voice devaluation and clone ownership. However, voice cloning doesn't erase vocalists; it transforms how voices are used. As with early skepticism around sampling, the industry may adapt, shaping the future of music production.

#3. Apple Music is strategizing on several fronts

Apple Music is making strategic moves in various music genres this week. First, the platform acquired BIS Records, a Swedish classical music label known for its dedication to high-quality music. This aligns with Apple Music's recent launch of the dedicated Apple Music Classical app. This acquisition marks a unique step for a streaming service that competes with the record labels licensing its music. Under Apple's ownership, BIS will continue operating as a full-service label, keeping its team intact and releasing new music. 

Simultaneously, Apple Music saw a surge of African tracks four times faster than the overall rate. Burna Boy's album 'I Told Them...' set global streaming records for an African album and dominated charts in 69 countries. This expansion in diverse music genres reflects the industry's recognition of the increasing popularity of African artists, with platforms like Spotify and Audiomack also celebrating their successes.

#4. AI implications in Music to expect

The music industry is on the brink of significant transformation, moving away from the streaming era toward new developments such as AI, the creator economy, and fan engagement. AI will surely challenge licensing and rights management. New rights considerations emerge, specifically temporary rights for short-lived content and generative rights for AI-generated music. In the end, the industry must address both known and unknown rights issues to ensure fair compensation for creators and rightsholders in the music of the future.

#5. Zooming out on music streaming services

Music streaming services have notably reduced piracy by providing affordable legal alternatives, leading to increased music revenue, which reached $15.9 billion in 2022, with streaming responsible for 84% of this total. But of course, the issue of artist compensation remains a challenge, with many artists expressing dissatisfaction with their earnings. This is a recurrent topic for our field, which has been gone over in details right here.

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