A new AI avatar generator, Ascendant Art, which launched this month, has promised to pay artists royalties for the use of their work. In the face of recent criticism from artists who have accused AI companies of the unauthorised use of their artwork, Ascendant Art could be paving a new way for artists to benefit from the recent rise in AI-generated art.
Ascendant Art are requesting that artists voluntarily submit their artwork and when avatars are made using their work, they will receive royalties. According to their website, Ascendant Art believes that “artists are the foundation of AI-generated art and should be appropriately compensated” and that they are striving for “harmony between artists and AI”.
The company’s CEO, Mitch Randall, explained the motivation behind the company’s ethos. “We all thought it was terrible that A.I. art is just stealing from artists and is a threat to their livelihoods. It was obvious to us that artists should be getting a royalty from the reproduction of their art. We decided to make this app because we wanted to show how to do this right.” Randall further stated that this approach has been far from straightforward: “we definitely chose the hard way. It took quite a bit longer than we anticipated, and involved more tech development and legal and business work. We are really pushing our resources in trying to do the right thing. But we do believe in what we’re doing, and we think we’re going to be wildly successful. We might even be the only one standing if lawsuits end up shutting everyone else down for copyright infringement.”
Not all artists have supported this new approach, however. Artist and writer Molly Crapapple has suggested that royalty-based models such as Ascendant Art’s “will further drive down our already meager wages and force artists to compete with their algorithmic doppelgängers.”
Randall claims that the system of royalties is generous, compared to equivalent models such as Spotify. “Suppose there are 100,000 purchases per month resulting in a net revenue of $420,000 per month. Assuming we have 24 registered artists, then, on average, each artist would receive $4,375 per month. From what we know about the market, the number of downloads should be much higher, but I just wanted to give a low-ball example. This is not like Spotify—the royalty percentage we have baked in is huge by comparison. At one time, one of our competitors was making $8 million per day revenue!”
Randall has also suggested that Ascendant would give artists more of a platform than they otherwise might get. While we cannot yet tell how well Ascendant’s model will work, given the recent claims filed against companies which do not pay royalties, such as Midjourney, DeviantArt and Stability A.I., perhaps this might be the future of AI-generated art.