Man Wins Art Fair With AI Generated Art

A video game designer in Pueblo, Colorado, won an art fair with artwork generated by artificial intelligence software. Jason M. Allen entered his work titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” into a state fair and received first place, winning a prize of $300. He had spent 80 hours tinkering with an AI art generator named Midjourney to create his final piece.

The two competition judges, Cal Duran and Dagny McKinley told The Pueblo Chieftain that while they did not know an AI created the work, they still would have awarded Allen the prize. In Duran’s mind, the chief purpose of any artwork is to tell a story.

“Even as this controversy is coming out, it’s still invoking that. It’s still causing an uproar. That in itself is kind of remarkable.”

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In order to generate art using an AI like Midjourney, a user must input keywords that the AI uses to make associations between prompts and images on the internet. It recognizes shapes, colors, and patterns within existing art and photos. The resulting piece of art is an amalgamation of those elements.

The recent development of AI-generated art engines such as DALL-E has started a debate on the ethics of art and the implications of automating creativity. While automation is becoming increasingly more common in other sectors of society, people previously considered the automation of art, music and writing beyond technological capability.

Even iPhone users can download AI art generators from Apple’s app store, albeit much weaker ones. Nonetheless, these apps can craft a piece of art within 15 seconds based on as little as one keyword. Even an online poetry generator titled “Verse by Verse” exists. Google programmed the software to compose poetry in the voice of historically famous poets.

Allen told The Pueblo Chieftain that Midjourney had also aided his team in creating concept art for their game designs. While inputting keywords may seem easy, Allen claims it is difficult to put in a prompt that is just right to generate the desired image.

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Judge McKinley is optimistic about the replicability of the quote-on-quote “artist” if AI art becomes commonplace. “Yes, it will likely take away some jobs from artists, but the technology exists and we can’t go backwards,” McKinley said.

“For me, nothing can replicate human work because human work is flawed and it is those flaws that bring humanity to art. How does an artist create their own style and voice? That is what makes art interesting.”

Understandably, many artists are unhappy with the potential automation of the creative process.

RJ Palmer, a concept artist, wrote on Twitter, “what makes this AI different is that it’s explicitly trained on current working artists.” Artists are not paid for their work but instead used to generate digital art pulled from their original ideas. Palmer writes that it is “actively anti-artist.”

Outdoor Music Festival

Why Younger Musicians Are Getting Their Estates In Order Early

Artists like Anderson .Paak and Taylor Swift are already planning out their legacies as a means of keeping control of their music catalogues as their careers continue to develop.

Man Listening to Music at Home

Paul McCartney Joins Call From Musicians To Change Music Streaming Payments

Over 150 musicians signed an open letter to change the 1988 Copyright Act which prevents many musicians from receiving proper payments for their work on streaming services.

Industry’s Top Songwriters Call For An End To ‘Artist Bullying’ Over Royalties

Songwriters for some of music’s biggest artist’s have penned an open letter to everyone within the industry calling on them to stop pressuring these writers to give up their publishing royalties. Writers for artists like Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, and Ariana Grande have all signed the letter in a new collective known as the Pact.

The songwriters themselves don’t name any specific artists within the letter, however, they do claim that pop stars and their teams can “abuse leverage, use bully tactics and threats to prey upon writers who may choose to give up some of their assets rather than lose the opportunity completely.”

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The Pact claims that as a group they “will not give publishing or songwriting credit to anyone who did not create or change the lyric or melody or otherwise contribute to the composition without a reasonably equivalent/meaningful exchange for all the writers on the song.”

Besides the performance royalties, artists generally receive an income for ticket sales, advertising deals, and numerous other revenue streams that have to do with the artist’s image itself. Songwriters, on the other hand, need the publishing royalties as that’s their main source of income when it comes to producing music.

“Over time, the practice of artists taking publishing from songwriters have become normalised.”

Victoria Monét was one of the signatories of the letter. She’s written many of Ariana Grande’s songs, as well as Emily Warren, who wrote the Grammy-nominated track Don’t Start Now. Savan Kotecha has written numerous songs for Ellie Goulding and Grande as well, and Justin Tranter, writer for artists like Britney Spears, also signed the letter.

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“My hope is that new songwriters can operate with a little less fear and [a] little more money.”

These writer statements come after a long debate regarding streaming services and the revenue they provide artists. In the US, streaming services like Spotify had to increase the royalties they gave to songwriters from 11% to 15%.

Crispin Hunt, chair of the Ivors Academy whose yearly Ivor Novello awards reward songwriters, argued in March that “record labels were taking too great a cut of revenues. Record labels are still taking a manufacturing and distributing cut when all they’re doing is a marketing job.”

At the end of the day, songwriters are finally taking a moment to credit themselves for their contributions to the industry, and are demanding that they be treated with the same respect and admiration as the artists that bring their words to life, and wouldn’t have a career without them.


Comedian Alice Fraser Offers Some Positivity During A Worldwide Pandemic

Fraser typically lives in London and was preparing for a huge festival tour that was meant to begin in Australia this past March and end at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, however, due to public health concerns the events/tour has been cancelled.

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Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominee’s Announced

“The nominations for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2020 are in, and the list features the Notorious B.I.G., Whitney Houston, Pat Benatar, Dave Matthews Band, Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, MC5, Motörhead, Nine Inch Nails, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden, T. Rex, and Thin Lizzy. The top vote-getters will be announced in January and inducted May 2nd, 2020, at a ceremony at Cleveland’s Public Hall.” Rolling Stone Magazine

It’s that time of year again, Rolling Stone Magazine covered and announced this years nominations for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and fans are overjoyed with the choices. This year the Hall Of Fame decided in order to be eligible for a nomination, an artist’s first album or single must have been released during 1994 or earlier, according to Rolling Stone. This is a lot of artists first years making it onto the nomination ballot, which is seen as a high honor in itself, and many artists have made it in the past and are back this year to hopefully snag an actual spot in the class of 2020 for the Hall of Fame. 

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The decision making process for who actually gets inducted is a lot more inclusive and expansive than a standard Academy Award type of process. Over 1,000 individuals vote on who is deserving of a spot. According to Rolling Stone these individuals are made up of other artists, music journalists, historians, and other members in the music industry who have enough experience to gage an artists qualifications. To make the process even more democratic, fans can vote as well for their choices on or at an interactive kiosk at the Rock and Roll museum in Cleveland. This way, part of the vote is determined by the everyday actual listeners of these artists. Whether it’s people who grew up with these artists, or the younger generation who discovered the music through their parents and streaming services, fans are able to put in their two cents and actually be a part of this annual musical honor. 

“Nothing stays the same in music, therefore, really, the institution that honors it has to evolve with all the music. Just like hip-hop is very much a part of the Hall of Fame now, everything we do — the board members we have, the events we build on — has to reflect a changing culture without ever disregarding or turning our backs on the ideals and fundamentals of the Rock Hall,”  John Sykes, new Rock Hall chairman told Rolling Stone.

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33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

This is John Sykes first year as acting chairman for the Hall of Fame induction. Previously Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone Magazine was the chairman for Rock Hall as well. The decision behind Wenner stepping down after years of controversy surrounding the Hall of Fame is actually about making sure the process remains 100% legitimate, a claim Wenner has stuck to throughout his whole career. Wenner’s controversy is rooted in the fact that fans everywhere would often blame their distaste in the yearly inductions by calling out Wenner for favoritism of some artists over the other. Regardless of his rebuttal, it never seemed to matter since Wenner inducted himself into the Hall Of Fame at the first ever ceremony in the 80’s, and ever since then people just automatically associated Wenner with favoritism. 

Either way, Sykes is now stepping in, all in a greater hope that his more modern and refreshed understanding and love for current music will help lead to the best inductions every year. Regardless, all parties involved in the process still stick to Wenner’s general philosophy on the importance of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame;

“To honor and celebrate and archive the great music of our time, the music that changed our own lives, and so many other people in and out of the industry, that was the magic that set us free … something that moved us and still does.”