“Some of the biggest and most powerful companies are, without permission, using our work to train AI models...This assault on human creativity must be stopped”: Pearl Jam, The Cure, R.E.M. attack “predatory” use of AI in music

Vedder, Stipe, Smith
(Image credit: Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images | Adam Berry/WireImage | Lorne Thomson/Redferns)

Pearl Jam, R.E.M., The Cure's Robert Smith, Stevie Wonder, The Last Dinner Party, Billie Eilish and the estates of Frank Sinatra and Bob Marley are among 200 artists who have signed an open letter titled Stop Devaluing Music, warning against the "predatory" use of AI, and its "assault on human creativity".

The open letter, released on April 2, was issued by the non-profit organisation Artist Rights Alliance.

It begins, “We, the undersigned members of the artist and songwriting community, call on AI developers, technology companies, platforms and digital music services, to case the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to infringe upon and devalue the rights of human artists.

“Make no mistake: we believe that, when used responsibly, AI has enormous potential to advance human creativity and in a manner that enables the development and growth of new and exciting experiences for music fans everywhere.

“Unfortunately, some platforms and developers are employing AI to sabotage creativity and undermine artists, songwriters, musicians and rights-holders. 

“When used irresponsibly, AI poses enormous threats to our ability to protect our privacy, our identities, our music and our livelihoods. Some of the biggest and most powerful companies are, without permission, using our work to train AI models. These efforts are directly aimed at replacing the work of human artists with massive quantities of AI-created “sounds” and “images” that substantially dilute the royalty pools that are paid out to artists. For many working musicians, artists and songwriters who are just trying to make ends meet, this would be catastrophic.

“Unchecked, AI will set in motion a race to the bottom that will degrade the value of our work and prevent us from being fairly compensated for it.

This assault on human creativity must be stopped. We must protect against the predatory use of AI to steal professional artists’ voices and likeness, violate creators’ rights, and destroy the music ecosystem.

“We call on all AI developers, technology companies, and platforms and digital music services to pledge that they will not develop or deploy AI music-generation technology, content, or tools that undermine or replace the human artistry of songwriters and artists or deny us fair compensation for our work.”

The full list of signatories can be viewed here.

The use of AI has been a hot topic in the entertainment world in recent years. 

Discussing its potential with Guitar Player last year, Queen guitarist Brian May expressed fears as to where it might lead.

“I think a lot of great stuff will come from AI,” he said, “because it is going to increase the powers of humans to solve problems. But the potential for AI to cause evil is, obviously, incredibly huge – not just in music, ’cause nobody dies in music, but people can die if AI gets involved in politics and world domination for various nations. I think the whole thing is massively scary. It’s much more far-reaching than anybody realised – well, certainly than I realised.”

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.