Needed: A Revolution In Music Metadata


MBW Views is a series of exclusive op/eds from eminent music industry people… with something to say.  

The following op/ed comes from Daouda Leonard (pictured), manager of Grimes and founder of Los Angeles-based AI development studio CreateSafe, which specializes in digital asset management software and protocols for the music industry.

Leonard’s company is behind Grimes’ artificial intelligence project, Elf.Tech and in November, the company raised $4.6 million in a seed funding round to introduce its new AI-powered platform, TRINITI.

Here, Daouda Leonard expands on his thoughts about the future of AI in music…


In the evolution of technological innovation, I see Artificial Intelligence (AI) emerging as both a transformative force and a potential ally in the music industry. As someone deeply engaged in the intersection of AI and music, I commend artists who take legal action to protect their creative rights against AI companies leveraging their data.

At the heart of this discussion lies the issue of metadata — the digital identity of musical compositions. Since the era of Napster, digital music has lacked robust metadata frameworks, leaving compositions vulnerable to misattribution and exploitation. I believe we urgently need comprehensive databases containing metadata, including splits, contact information, payment details, and terms of usage. Such transparency not only safeguards creators’ rights but also guides AI models towards ethical compliance.

For me, the narrative of collaboration between artists, rights holders, and AI entities is paramount. I’ve witnessed firsthand the proactive stance of artists like Grimes, who open-source their metadata, enabling fair compensation in the AI-driven ecosystem.

This proactive engagement transcends traditional boundaries, fostering a collaborative ethos wherein technological innovation harmonizes with artistic expression.

Moreover, I urge direct engagement between artists and AI companies. Rather than relying solely on legal frameworks, I advocate for proactive communication through cold-calling, emailing, or direct messaging.

Such dialogue empowers creators to shape the trajectory of AI integration in the music industry, fostering a symbiotic relationship between human creativity and AI ingenuity.

The transformative potential of AI extends beyond augmentation to music creation itself. AI algorithms, trained on vast repositories of musical data, can generate novel compositions, democratizing the creative process. Additionally, AI enhances the listening experience by curating personalized playlists tailored to individual preferences, fostering a diverse and inclusive music ecosystem.

In my view, the integration of AI into the music industry heralds a symphony of transformative possibilities. By embracing proactive collaboration, fortifying metadata frameworks, and harnessing the creative potential of AI, artists and rights holders can orchestrate a harmonious future wherein innovation resonates with artistic integrity. It’s time for creators to lead the charge, shaping the future of music in partnership with AI.

The journey towards this harmonious, fluid, best-foot-forward future is not without its challenges. Skepticism and apprehension often accompany technological advancements, particularly when it comes to AI. Some fear that AI will replace human creativity, rendering artists obsolete. However, I believe such concerns are unfounded and derail the direction of where our attention needs to go. Yes, there needs to be a system of checks and balances, of course. However, AI should be viewed not as a competitor but as a collaborator — a tool that amplifies human creativity rather than diminishes it.

Moreover, the democratizing effect of AI on music creation cannot be overstated. Historically, the barriers to entry in the music industry have been high, with access to recording studios, production equipment, and professional expertise limited to a select few. AI dismantles these barriers, placing the power of music creation in the hands of anyone with access to a computer. From aspiring musicians experimenting in their bedrooms to seasoned professionals seeking new avenues of expression, AI opens doors previously closed by tradition and privilege.

As we embrace the promise of AI in music, we must remain vigilant about the ethical implications. The issue of copyright infringement looms large, with AI algorithms capable of generating compositions that closely mimic existing works. Without proper safeguards in place, such creations could infringe upon the intellectual property rights of original artists. Therefore, it is imperative that we establish clear guidelines and regulations governing the use of AI in music creation, ensuring that artists receive due credit and compensation for their work.

In addition to ethical considerations, we must also address the broader societal impact of AI in the music industry. The displacement of jobs due to automation is a legitimate concern, particularly for those working in roles susceptible to AI disruption, such as music producers and session musicians. However, I believe that AI has the potential to create new opportunities and industries, offsetting job losses with the emergence of new roles centered around AI development, implementation, and maintenance.

Furthermore, AI has the power to revolutionize the way we experience music as listeners. By analyzing vast datasets encompassing user preferences, contextual factors, and emotional resonances, AI algorithms can curate personalized playlists that cater to individual tastes with unprecedented accuracy. This personalized approach not only enhances user satisfaction but also fosters a deeper connection between listeners and the music they love.

Remaining present, with an eye on the future, the integration of AI into the music industry represents a transformative shift with far-reaching implications. By embracing proactive collaboration, fortifying metadata frameworks, and harnessing the creative potential of AI, we can chart a course towards a future where innovation and artistic integrity coexist harmoniously.

As we navigate this new frontier, let us remain mindful of the ethical considerations and societal impacts, ensuring that AI serves as a tool for empowerment rather than a force of disruption. Together, we can orchestrate a symphony of creativity and innovation that resonates with audiences around the world.Music Business Worldwide



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