The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Celebrity Endorsement Artificial Intelligence Future of Media

Sag-Aftra & major record labels reach tentative deal for AI protections in sound recordings


By Audrey Kemp, LA Reporter

April 12, 2024 | 4 min read

The new contract includes pioneering AI safeguards and enhanced benefits for guild members.


The guild reached a tentative agreement with major record labels for AI protections in sound recordings

Today, Sag-Aftra, a guild representing some 160,000 entertainment and media professionals, and major record labels, such as Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Disney Music Group, have today struck a preliminary multiyear deal succeeding the Sag-Aftra National Code of Fair Practice for Sound Recordings.

The Sag-Aftra Executive Committee unanimously greenlit the tentative deal on Wednesday, April 10, paving the way for it to be put forth for member ratification. The agreement spans from January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2026.

Effective immediately upon ratification, the artificial intelligence guidelines stipulate that the terms “artist,” “singer” and “royalty artist” solely refer to humans. Consent, along with minimum compensation standards and detailed usage specifications, must be explicitly obtained before the release of a sound recording employing a digital replication of an artist’s voice.

Among the key contract enhancements are heightened minimums, advancements in health and retirement benefits, and an augmented percentage of streaming revenue to be encompassed by contributions, among other gains.

Other enhancements include raised minimums, improvements in health and retirement benefits and an uptick in the portion of streaming revenue covered by contributions, among other gains.

“Sag-Aftra and the music industry’s largest record labels have reached a groundbreaking agreement establishing, for the first time, collective bargaining guardrails assuring singers and recording artists ethical and responsible treatment in the use of artificial intelligence in the music industry,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, Sag-Aftra’s national executive director and chief negotiator, said in a statement shared with The Drum. “It is a testament to our mutual unwavering commitment to working together to safeguard the rights, dignity and creative freedom of our members.

According to Crab-Tree Ireland, the agreement safeguards Sag-Aftra members from the increasing influence of artificial intelligence in the music industry, adding that the guild’s stance that technology should enhance creativity while maintaining the essence of human expression in music. “We look forward to working alongside our industry partners to foster an environment where innovation serves to elevate, not diminish, the unique value of each artist’s contribution to our rich cultural tapestry,” he added.

In 2023, Sag-Aftra and WGA waged a historic dual strike against AI, yielding groundbreaking protections. As industry unions continue to confront AI challenges, with IATSE and the Teamsters preparing for negotiations in 2024, questions arise about the lessons learned from the past strikes, future trends and necessary policy and bargaining strategies to ensure human primacy in the industry.

In response to the deal, the Record Label Negotiating Committee stated, “We are pleased to reach this agreement with Sag-Aftra and continue our strong partnership as we enter this exciting and fast-moving new era for music and artists. Together, we’ll chart a successful course forward, embracing new opportunities and facing our common challenges, strengthened by our shared values and commitment to human artistry.”

For more, sign up for The Drum’s daily newsletter.

Celebrity Endorsement Artificial Intelligence Future of Media

More from Celebrity Endorsement

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +