OME on the EU conference on music

EU conference on music: Challenges, needs and opportunities of the European music ecosystem

The EU conference on music: “Challenges, needs and opportunities of the European music ecosystem” took place on 22 February 2024, in the Charlemagne building of the European Commission, in Brussels.

Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth opened the event.

The European Commission organised the conference in the context of the ongoing dialogue with the music sector that started in 2023, as part of the Music Moves Europe initiative (MME). After the Covid-19 crisis, the European Commission decided to strengthen the dialogue with the music sector, to help the music sector coordinate and speak with one voice when it comes to EU policy matters.

Project coordinator James Edwards presented OpenMusE in a joint panel with the sister projects Fair MusE and Music360. The topic of the panel was “Highlights from EU-funded music projects – Horizon Europe projects”, but also “AI trends in the music sector” were a central talking point:


QUESTIONS for the Open Music Europe Panel 

1) What is your take from your perspective about the different dimensions of AI in Music?

– The graph that shows the different dimensions of application of AI in the music supply chain is very interesting and shows us how AI is something that has been integrated for some time into the music value chain, especially when it comes to distribution, search and fruition, and thus also the importance of the data, whose ownership, storage and use has been at the center of legal, technological, commercial, ethical, etc. debates since a while now. – Looking at the first dimension tho, the thing with generative AI is that it’s not only about analyzing, recognizing and classifying these data, but also generating, creating them. And the reason we’re seated here now, instead of 8 or 6 years ago when Google, Sony, Boomy developed the first tools for music generation is that, since then, technological models have dramatically and very rapidly evolved until the release of chatgpt in November 2022 which triggered the “ai boom” and the consequent raise of tools, investments, content produced, persecuted and took down. And this is expected to only grow more and more, faster and faster as you showed in the stats just now. – With generative AI (and its fast evolution and quantitative dimension) is the role of the creator which is put at stake: his/her intellectual property, personal rights, remuneration opportunity (71% of interviewed member see their economic basis at risk) – And this is why, when thinking how (too late to think abut IF) we want to shape the use of AI, and especially generative AI, in music, we need to adopt ourselves and promote/ pursue/ask for artist/creator/human – centered mindsets and models. These kind of studies (such as this one between gema and sacem) and initiatives (such as Human Artistry Campaign as well) are crucial to share a common understanding and vision among the music ecosystem

2) Transformation of a sector is usually made of several factors (innovation, usage, regulation, education) but also is structured by different levels of actions. How can the needs be addressed at EU, National and Sectoral levels?

I agree with talking about transformation rather than “disruption”, as these moments of technological evolution are often defined, because in the idea of transformation there is the consciousness that it is the human being who has the ownership of this transformation, rather than being overwhelmed and swept away by some disruptive technology. To experience this transformation without being overwhelmed, but using it to our advantage, it is necessary to know and master the tools. In this case, as we’re talking about AI, this doesn’t mean we all have to become coders or prompt designers otherwise we’ll be replaced by robots, as the first slide you showed, but we certainly can’t act as nothing is happening. For this reason, it is essential to encourage awareness-raising, capacity building and professional training on digital subjects, promoting (and funding) researches, mapping of sentiment and practices across the sector, free training programmes. A recent study on digitalisation in EU showed that only 30% of microenterprises in the European Union said they took steps to improve digitalisation in 2022, compared with 63% of large firms. Considering that most organizations in music fall into these categories, we can easily assume that the data is valid for our sector. There are some virtuous examples in progress, both at a national level, especially thanks to the national recovery plans, and at a European level: I mention, in addition to the collaboration between gema and sacem, the research supported by musicaire on digital sustainability, the new project livemx, the startup mentoring program music tech europe academy. These initiatives and platforms must be designed, encouraged and promoted at all levels of the value chain and involving all its actors, starting once again, from the artists, to go back to the idea of human being at the centre. Sustainable transformation inevitably passes through knowledge sharing.

3) Any further concern or risk to be addressed?

I was saying earlier that the reason we’re sitting around talking about the impact of AI in music today is the drastic speed of recent technological developments that has led to this “ai boom”. Well, this speed is what concerns me the most. A recent article from Billboard reveled how the the super powerful new music generator tool from Google, called Lyria, was trained on copyrighted music without rights-holders’ permission. And despite the current efforts of the tech giant to seek licenses and partnership with music players (see the YouTube AI accelerator attempt with Universal), they already used those data and they’re now showing the outcomes to the rights holders, who, even if decided to opt-out, would Google re-train its whole model? I don’t think so. Always Google is now even working on processing brain activity into generative AI models. These are proofs of the speed at which development is progressing and this raises the question of whether regulation and consent from music ecosystem will even come close to keeping up with the rapid market development.

4) On a forward-looking note: how can Music and the sector contribute to creating a EU global leadership in trustworthy AI ?


I am convinced that Europe can play a fundamental role in the development of sustainable AI and we are already seeing this with the development of various projects, startups and innovative companies that adopt an attitude of listening to the music ecosystem, developing products and services FOR it. We see it in the different training, acceleration and open innovation schemes that many of us in the Music Tech Europe network (and not only) develop at a national and pan-European level and we wish that this type of effort, which starts from research, passing from awareness raising, to training of professionals to support new businesses, is increasingly widespread and incentivised. The European environment offers fertile ground for sustainable digital development that respects the principles of transparency, consensus and fair remuneration, without succumbing to the speed of technological progress. But dialogue is needed, not only between us, but also with the tech sector and this is why I am so happy and proud to finally sit here as Music Tech Europe, whose main goal is precisely to create bridges between the music and technology sectors, to encourage sustainable and positive innovations for all the categories represented here and hopefully with their support as well.

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