ASCAP'S ANNUAL MEETING TAKES ON AI

ASCAP held its 2023 Annual Meeting at the Director’s Guild of America Theater in Manhattan on 7/19, which included a special AI Symposium aimed at addressing the opportunities and challenges artificial intelligence presents for music creators.

The event began with ASCAP Chairman of the Board & President Paul Williams, CEO Elizabeth Matthews and The ASCAP Foundation Executive Director Nicole George-Middleton delivering ASCAP’s “state of our union,” discussing the impact of AI for ASCAP and its members and detailing the work of the ASCAP Foundation.

Williams acknowledged the role music creation plays in fueling larger industries and the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes, saying, "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. We echo and support their cause.”

Matthews then addressed AI head-on. She noted, "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 the AI Symposium, which was kicked off by ASCAP Chief Strategy and Digital Officer Nick Lehman. The ensuing first panel, “Navigating AI: Evolving Legal and Policy Frameworks," dove deep into the legal implications of how creators can protect their work as AI models proliferate, with panelists US Copyright Office Assistant General Counsel John Riley; Dan Schnapp of law firm Sheppard Mullin and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison partner Katherine Forrest. Each speaker provided valuable insights into how the legal community and copyright experts are navigating the quick advancements of AI.

“This is the most transformative moment that I’ve ever lived through,” Forrest said. “The velocity of change that we’re seeing is extraordinary. There’s great opportunity and also reasons to be cautious.”

A second panel, "How Creators Are Unlocking the Potential of AI," provide insight into how creators can use AI to their advantage. how creators can benefit and thrive using this technology. Panelists included ASCAP member and composer Derrick Skye, electronic instrument creator Douglas Geers, and WaveAI CEO/Co-founder Maya Ackerman.

The event included a special Hip-Hop 50 performance by Black Sheep rapper Dres and DJ SYLK. We hope Williams was able to fit in at least a couple of breakdancing moves.

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