Premium Article

The music AI attribution problem

April 3, 2023

In today’s TikTok-driven market, music artists increasingly embrace “letting go” of their work as a survival strategy. Viral unlicensed remixes and clips can unexpectedly alter artists’ careers and the lives of those behind these fleeting, lightning-in-a-bottle moments.

The core idea is that increasing the surface area of a musical work through unrestricted distribution (e.g., pirated remixes, TikTok videos) ultimately benefits the artist’s brand — driving not only music consumption but also ticket sales, merchandise, sponsorships, and other revenue streams by maintaining visibility among casual audiences. In essence, the music industry’s value now lies in artist brands rather than in the music assets themselves, necessitating a more relaxed approach to content in a competitive landscape.

Generally, it’s a win-win scenario: Creators of unlicensed derivative works build their following, while original creators gain follow-on interest as well as the ability to properly monetize the derivative work if they choose to.

But even still, this system relies on one critical aspect, without which the entire structure collapses: Creative attribution, or the ability to identify the author of the original work.

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