Automation or Elimination? AI in music with Junaid Khan of Black Lion.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the music industry, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a pivotal force shaping the future. We had the opportunity to sit down with Junaid Khan, the CEO of Black Lion.


Black Lion stands as a pioneering force in melding Artificial Intelligence (AI) with the music industry, revolutionising the way artists and businesses navigate the digital landscape. With a focus on both B2B and B2C markets, Black Lion introduces innovative solutions like the Valuation Engine and a consumer app launching soon aiming to democratise music rights management and unlock value for all stakeholders.

How did you get started with AI & The Music Industry?

I started working in music over a decade + ago, gaining experience in participating in major record label deals, marketing, A&R, product development and brand partnerships. It gave me a 360 lens of the music industry, when working in an ecosystem of music you realise how broken things are and want to create solutions. I had always been passionate about creating an operating system which allowed organisations to streamline and automate deal-making, talent scouting, payment processing as well as something at a consumer level functioned like ed-tech in educating artists on their value, demystifying creative accounting and aiding them to meet due diligence for deals quicker. Thus 5 years ago I began creating Black Lion before “AI” was a buzzword.

AI in music is a broad topic. Can you differentiate between its uses in the industry?

Absolutely. We’re looking at two primary applications of AI in music: Generative AI and Automation AI. Generative AI is a creative powerhouse, enabling the creation of artworks, merchandise, insights, and even tasks execution through agents like Gr00t and ChatGPT. However, it’s not without its ethical dilemmas—issues around data sources, potential for cloning artists, and the risk of exacerbating industry inequalities.

On the other hand, Automation AI, which Black Lion focuses on, aims to streamline the business side. It’s about increasing productivity and bringing transparency to processes like contracting and payments. This is where our Valuation Engine comes into play, offering a glimpse into a more efficient future for the music industry.

With major corporations integrating AI, how do you see this affecting the music industry?

The integration of AI is a double-edged sword. On one side, tools like JP Morgan’s Cashflow AI system signify how AI can drastically reduce the need for human labour. The music industry isn’t immune, with giants like UMG and WMG already announcing cuts. This trend underscores the need for a thoughtful approach to AI, balancing its efficiencies against the potential human cost.

The ethical implications of AI in music are vast. What are your concerns?

My primary concern revolves around the potential misuse of generative AI—for instance, cloning an artist’s voice or image without consent. Additionally Generative AI will play a villain-like role in streaming fraud among other negative use cases. This raises significant copyright and ethical issues, challenging the core of creativity and authenticity. It’s crucial for the industry to navigate these waters carefully, ensuring AI amplifies rather than detracts from the music’s soul.

Looking forward, how do you envision AI shaping the future of music?

I’m optimistic yet cautious. AI holds the potential to unlock new levels of creativity and operational efficiency in the music industry. But this future needs to be approached with a balanced perspective—leveraging AI’s benefits while guarding against its risks. At Black Lion, our mission is to empower artists and the industry with AI tools that foster creativity and productivity, all the while maintaining the integrity of the music ecosystem.

Can you expand on the importance of noble missions in music technology companies?

The music industry, at its core, thrives on innovation and creativity. Companies like Black Lion, with a mission to revolutionise music rights management, play a crucial role in shaping a future where technology enhances these values. It’s not just about leveraging AI for efficiency but doing so with a commitment to fairness, transparency, and empowerment for all creators. There needs to be more technology companies in the music space driven by noble missions, ensuring the digital transformation benefits everyone involved and strict data protocols are met on how AI is trained.

Any final thoughts on what the music industry should consider regarding AI?

As we venture deeper into this AI-infused future, it’s imperative that the industry maintains a focus on ethical and equitable use of technology. AI should serve as a tool for enhancement, not a replacement for the human creativity and connection that lie at the heart of music. The road ahead is promising, but it requires vigilant oversight and a commitment to the values that have always made music a universal language. Automation over Elimination!

Through this conversation with Junaid Khan, it’s clear that AI’s integration into the music industry is a complex yet rewarding journey. With companies like Black Lion leading by example, there’s a path forward that not only embraces the efficiencies and creative potentials of AI but also safeguards the values and rights that form the music industry’s foundation. This balanced approach promises a harmonious future where technology and creativity flourish together, ensuring a vibrant ecosystem for creators and businesses alike.