A revised version of the Protect Working Musicians Act could allow independent musicians to negotiate with streaming services and developers of artificial intelligence (AI).

According to Billboard, the bill’s new version was introduced by Rep. Deborah Ross and now has a strong emphasis on the work of AI due to the rise of viral tracks like “Heart on My Sleeve,” the AI-generated song that mimicked the voices of Drake and The Weeknd. The updated bill will allow musicians to discuss “fairer rates and terms for the use of their music” with the creators behind AI-generated music, adding this to Rep. Ted Deutch’s original bill that aimed to provide independent artists with the grounds to “collectively bargain for royalty rates” with major streaming services. “The AI issue has become even more important,” Ross said, noting that musicians could possibly be considered as plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit as they “[fight] for their rights” with an attorney.

“AI threatens the creator — finding the person or entity that has co-opted your work and turned it into something else and then going after them is so onerous,” she continued. “That’s one of the reasons for this bill — to allow people to do this collaboratively. We need to do this sooner than later. We’re seeing this threat every single day.”

Jen Jacobsen of the Artist Rights Alliance collaborated with Ross for the revised bill and stated that it will “give the smaller independent more of a voice.” She added, “Our work is being scraped and ingested and exploited without us even knowing. Adding the AI platforms seemed like a relevant and important thing to do.”

“Musicians are really worried about this — not just the big-name ones, but small artists, too. Small ones, especially,” Jacobsen further stated. “The most important thing for this bill is that small, independent artists and record labels need to be recognized and have each others’ backs.”

It remains to be seen whether the House will vote or pass the bill. “As you can see in Congress, lots of bills aren’t passing — like the budget!” Ross shared. “But this has been a very bipartisan issue in the judiciary committee. It’s the perfect time to bring these issues up.”

AI has been a hot topic in the music industry as of late. Earlier this month, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. had to clarify that “Heart on My Sleeve” will not be eligible for the GRAMMY Awards after stating in a separate interview that the song is, from a creative standpoint, “absolutely eligible because it was written by a human.”

Elsewhere in music, Erykah Badu and Herbie Hancock will headline the 2023 LA3C Festival.
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