Guidance on Artificial Intelligence work for artists

The use of Artificial Intelligence across the audio and entertainment industry is on the rise.

Equity is working hard to protect our member and ensure that AI works for performers and not just their bosses. However, it’s important that you are aware that there are currently no regulations around the use of AI in the industry and that this is leading to some performers being exploited.

While many jobs on AI projects are not exploitative and will be fairly paid, do check your contract and look out for the following red flags. If you have any questions get in touch with Shannon Sailing at Equity on ssailing@equity.org.uk

Before agreeing to work 

Before agreeing to work on an AI project, ask for as much information about what the job entails as possible. This can raise red flags. Try and find out:

  • Details of what you are recording/working on (e.g. creating motion capture or creating data for an AI Voice)
    • If there are no details, you could potentially be signing up to create AI performances with unspecified usage. Be vigilant on gathering information.
    • Be wary of unusual scripts which seem either incoherent or are just reams of words, dictionaries, common sentences etc. These could potentially be gathering data for an AI voice.
    • Make sure you are comfortable with what you might be doing or saying in a performance. For example find out at the start if there is anything potentially offensive.
  • Where your performance will be used (for example online, on an app, in an audiobook)
    • If you know where your performance will be used, you have more knowledge and control over your work. If the company hiring you wants to sell your performance or use AI to manipulate it for another use, they will have to inform you and ask for permission. You will potentially be able to ask for further payment for this exploitation.
  • How you will be creating the work (for example in a studio, home studio, recording over an online platform like Zoom or over the phone)
    • Be wary of companies that ask you to record or perform in unusual ways, for example over the phone. It is not unheard of that illegitimate AI companies gather voice data sets this way. Speak to Equity if you are unsure.

Checking the contract

Once you have agreed to the job, have a look at the contract and check for the following:

  • Payment – Once you know what the work is, is the payment reasonable? For example if you are creating a voice for an AI robot that could be potentially used in perpetuity (forever), on thousands of projects, your payment should be in the thousands too! Equity does not have set rates for AI work or AI voices but do always consult with us on what you are being offered and we can give general guidance.
  • Transparency of usage – Make sure it's absolutely clear in your contract what your performance is being used for. This means that if your performance is ever exploited outside the realms of what is agreed, you have the grounds to insist on further payments.
  • Transparency of re-usage – Can the employer sell your performance to other platforms? Ideally you do not want this to be possible without your consent (and a renegotiation of payment).
  • Consent – Make sure that contractually you are entitled to consent when it comes to relicensing of your performance. This gives you more strength and rights when it comes to your performance. This means, for example, if Company A wanted to sell (at a profit to them, not you) your performance to Company B, they would have to ask your permission first. The power is then in your hands to agree whatever terms you are comfortable with (and again, further payment).
  • Is the contract non-exclusive? Would a buyout prevent you from working for other AI platforms? -If at a later date you are asked to work on an exclusive basis for another client , would the presence of your AI voice and the possibility of it working for competitors be problematic contractually?
  • Could your work be turned into offensive content? - Try and include some clarity in your contract that any AI manipulation of you and your work will not contain potentially libellous, defamatory or offensive content that you would not be happy with or that could cause you harm or get you into legal issues later.
  • Send Equity your contract – We can give you general advice and guidance on your contract and spot anything that could be worrying. It’s also important, even if you are totally happy with your contract, that Equity reads as many AI contracts as possible so we can see what the state of play is in the industry. This will help inform what we should be focusing on in collective bargaining and contractual provisions for our members.

If you have any questions get in touch with Shannon Sailing at Equity on ssailing@equity.org.uk