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LimeWire, the early 2000s peer-to-peer music sharing service reborn in 2022 as a music NFT marketplace, revealed a decentralized generative AI creator studio Tuesday that is backed by Ethereum scaling network Polygon. But why is LimeWire pivoting into AI?
The peer-to-peer platform was wildly popular in the early 2000s with over 50 million monthly users at its peak, but closed down in 2011 after losing a legal battle with the Recording Industry Association of America over allegations of piracy. LimeWire relaunched in 2022 as an NFT marketplace with backing from music industry titans like Deadmau5 and Steve Aoki.
It has since signed partnerships with the likes of Universal Music Group (home of Justin Bieber, ABBA and Lady Gaga), and earlier this year, expanded its offerings to allow content creators to curate their own subscription-only feeds, similar to Patreon. Now LimeWire is rolling out a new AI creator studio with an aim to further democratize the creative industry.
1/ 🍋Announcing the future of content creation on the blockchain: The LimeWire AI Studio with @0xPolygonLabs
We’re thrilled to announce that we have teamed up with Polygon to launch the world's first blockchain-based AI Creator Studio: The LimeWire AI Studio pic.twitter.com/LGCr09rgtP
— LimeWire (@limewire) August 29, 2023
To begin with, LimeWire’s studio will offer the ability to create AI-generated images via text-to-image or image-to-image inputs, with the platform utilizing existing tools like Stable Diffusion and DALL-E. LimeWire is also looking to roll out a more complex system in coming months.
Speaking with Decrypt, LimeWire COO Marcus Feistl explained that the platform has had several artists use generative AI to create artwork for music that was otherwise ready to be released, with the tools just speeding up the process.
Alongside that, LimeWire plans to launch a series of AI-created music tools in the coming weeks as part of the studio, with video capabilities following shortly after that. Users can enter the studio to add specific sounds or instruments to a particular track, similar to existing sample packs available to producers or build a song around licensed beats. People can also create an entire song from scratch, with AI-generated lyrics, music, and vocals all available to tap.
“It’s a much simpler form of production, making it more accessible to many people,” explained Feistl. He added that LimeWire wants to “empower newcomers to start their creative journey and offer experienced creators the tools they need. With this, anybody can become a creator.”
The studio also hopes to offer creatives a fairer payment structure. Currently, regular users who publish their art on the platform can receive up to 50% of ad revenue from LimeWire, while “pro users” who hold a certain amount of the LMWR token or own the flagship LimeWire NFT can receive up to a 70% cut.
Artists can also earn money via subscription-based services or by selling their art as NFTs, with LimeWire offering an all-in-one platform to mint and trade, alongside the ability to support video, music, and static imagery. Feistl claimed that several creators have already built a strong enough community around their art that they’re able to make a living from it.
Everything created in the LimeWire AI studio will be automatically minted as an NFT on the Polygon blockchain, making use of a fully automated creator earnings payment system.
Creatives will also receive a portion of the proceeds when their art is utilized by other artists, be it an image for a record release, a remixed track, or a drum loop. Everything is subject to a “rigorous process,” Feistl said, “that allows LimeWire to check if uploading artists actually hold the rights to that content they’re sharing though.”
However, he admits that it's an ongoing process.
“The more models and use cases we add, the more quality content will come from the studio,” said Fesitl. “To me, that’s where it becomes super interesting.”
The announcement of LimeWire’s AI creator studio comes as many creative industries debate the potential dangers that artificial intelligence poses to creators.
Writers and actors alike in Hollywood are collectively on strike, with concerns over AI use among their key complaints. And earlier this week, a group of British lawmakers warned that AI developers must be stopped from freely using music, literature, and artwork to train their models.
Not everyone in the music industry is opposed to AI playing a role in the creative process, however. Musicians like Grimes and Avenged Sevenfold singer M. Shadows are among those who have said they’re OK with their voices being replicated and remixed by AI, while the Grammys awards ceremony will allow songs created with the help of generative AI.
“In the music industry, it seems like a wise idea to embrace AI and work with the tools that it provides,” said Feistl, pointing to the rapid innovation that the industry has seen over the past two decades like digital downloads and streaming. “Platforms like Spotify obviously have their positives and negatives, but it’s a change you need to embrace if you want to be successful and reach your audience.”
He also believes AI offers a lot of opportunity for growth, with LimeWire’s creator studio allowing artists to make their content available for others to use.
“AI’s main strength in music creation is enhancing the creative process and making it easier. It’s not going to replace any one thing though,” Feistl said, with the tools needing human creativity to constantly train on. “So far, the best results have come from someone utilizing existing music to create something new,” he added.
“I don’t think AI is ever going to replace the artist,” he added. “And we’re only talking about the digital side of music anyway. We will never be able to replace real-world experiences like live concerts.”