Who Stands to Gain the Most from AI in Music?—BUMA’s Sherlo Esajas Talks Winners & Losers

AI in Music
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AI in Music
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Photo Credit: Sherlo Esajas

The use of artificial intelligence to create generative AI models has the potential to rapidly change the creative side of the industry. Digital Music News spoke with Sherlo Esajas, Manager of Public Affairs at BUMA to discuss the potential impact ahead of his appearance on our panel discussion, ‘The Rules for AI.’

Digital Music News is hosting a mini-conference dedicated to exploring the impact AI will have on the music industry in the coming years, with experts like BUMA Manager of Public Affairs Sherlo Esajas weighing in. Want to listen in or attend in person? Here’s what you need to know.

    • When: October 25 | 11 am – 2 pm
    • Where: Hollywood, Los Angeles
    • Cost: $35
    • Tickets: RESERVE YOUR SPOT

Sherlo Esajas helps strengthen music copyright for composers, lyricists, and music publishers who are affiliated with BUMA/Stemra. He’s an experienced public affairs specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the public domain and other industries. He has served as the senior political advisor for several ministers and politicians.

DMN spoke with Sherlo about the impact artificial intelligence will have on the music industry, especially the creative process. We’ve already seen AI deployed on the marketing and touring sides of the business—but large language models make it possible for just about anyone to sample a voice and create music from strings of text.

“AI is already helping with tasks like making music, but I doubt if it can fully replace human creativity and emotions,” Sherlo shares. “It’s a useful tool, but I don’t think it can ever be a perfect ten because it won’t be able to fully understand complex human feelings and expressions. I think [AI] will mainly have a significant impact on a sector like background music and somewhat less on live events.”

Who is the biggest winner in the AI space so far? Sherlo says it’s the DSPs and tech companies who have tailored recommendation algorithms trained on their users’ preferences.

“So far tech companies have been the big winners in AI, especially in the music world. For instance, they’ve used AI to make better music recommendations and playlists. By analyzing what users like, they keep people more interested and sticking around—which ultimately means satisfied (and more) subscribers.”

Spotify has said as much itself, especially in discussing its new AI DJ, which it recently expanded to be available across 50 markets. The voice model for Spotify’s AI DJ is Xavier ‘X’ Jernigan, a voice Spotify subscribers became familiar with as the host of the morning show ‘The Get Up.’ “His personality and voice resonated with our listeners and resulted in a loyal following for the podcast,” Spotify said at the time. Now it’s leveraging his voice as its English AI DJ for personalized listening recommendations with tailored facts about the music.

Unsurprisingly, Sherlo says AI will likely help the music industry generate more revenue over the next five years as technology like this catches on across the sector. But a valid question there is—who receives all the extra profits the tech helps generate?

“There are genuine concerns related to fair compensation for artists and copyright issues as AI-generated content becomes more common,” Sherlo tells DMN. “In the end, streaming services, music companies, and tech firms using AI will probably gain the most. But certainly, it can also make a positive impact for artists who, with the assistance of AI, can make even more beautiful music creations.”