Paul Williams (Photo: Ryan Lash / ASCAP)
ASCAP’s 2023 annual meeting YESTERDAY (7/20) featured a special AI Symposium aimed at addressing the opportunities and challenges that artificial intelligence presents for music creators. The meeting was held at the DIRECTOR’S GUILD OF AMERICA THEATER in midtown MANHATTAN. The day began with the annual meeting, during which ASCAP leaders Chairman/President PAUL WILLIAMS, CEO ELIZABETH MATTHEWS and FOUNDATION Executive Director NICOLE GEORGE-MIDDLETON reported on ASCAP’s “state of our union,” discussed the impact of AI for ASCAP and its members and detailed the work of the ASCAP FOUNDATION. WILLIAMS acknowledged the role that music creation plays in fueling larger industries and the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes. “Many writers and actors are struggling to earn a living because the streaming business model, which continues to evolve, has been so disruptive for the whole entertainment industry,” he said. “We echo and support their cause!”MATTHEWS referenced ASCAP’s long experience with new technologies and also urged creators to engage: “AI is threatening creators’ rights and we must act expeditiously. We don’t have time for infighting in the entertainment industry because AI is at our doorstep and it presents an existential threat; we must stick together on behalf of all creators and act now.”The annual meeting was followed by MC BLACK SHEEP DRES and the NYC-based DJ SYLK, who came together to celebrate 50 years of Hip-Hop with performances of songs including “Flavor Of The Month” and “The Choice Is Yours.” “ASCAP has personally saved my life at least a dozen times … ASCAP’s like ‘We got you, keep doing what you’re doing,’” said DRES. The AI SYMPOSIUM was kicked off by ASCAP Chief Strategy and Digital Officer NICK LEHMAN before launching into the first panel, “Navigating AI: Evolving Legal And Policy Frameworks.” The session went deep into the legal implications of how creators can protect their work as AI models proliferate. The discussion was moderated by SHELLY PALMER, CEO of THE PALMER GROUP and Professor Of Advanced Media In Residence at SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY’s S.I. NEWHOUSE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS. The following panel was “How Creators Are Unlocking The Potential Of AI,” moderated by entrepreneur, author, and COLLECTIVE ENTERTAINMENT partner EMILY WHITE. The discussion turned attention from the legal questions of AI toward how creators can benefit and thrive using this technology.
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