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BeatStars’ partnership with “ethical AI” startup Lemonaide

BeatStars, the site where producers and artists can buy and sell beats (it’s where Lil Nas X bought the ‘Old Town Road’ beat for $30) has been steadily growing its business, announcing that it had passed the $200m payout milestone in 2022, and adding various services, like distribution, and partnerships, like its 2021 Sony Music publishing link-up. It’s now announced another partnership, and unsurprisingly, it’s AI-related: the company is forming a “strategic alliance” with AI startup Lemonaide. The companies say they are committed to “using only ethically-sourced AI to empower creators,” and hope to, “to set the ethical standard for AI adoption in music.”

Talking about AI in human and ethical terms is a now-common strategic approach for proponents of a technology that still kindles fear in many, especially artists who are worried that their skills and sounds are being unscrupulously absorbed and monetised by the AI machine. So what is the ethical foundation of the Beatstars/Lemonaide partnership? The companies say that their AI is trained through “a voluntary community of producers who are compensated for sharing their work, and whose feedback is openly encouraged.”

How those producers are compensated for the use of their work is not explained, but BeatStars Founder and CEO Abe Batshon says that the approach is, ”to treat our community as partners.” This approach also extends, they say, to how much the AI will actually do, claiming that they purposefully limit their AI to creating only “short musical ideas that spark inspiration,” then letting the (human) producers develop these snippets in their creative process.