Creative Industries and AI Challenge: Focus on Books, Music, Film & Television | NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Creative Industries and AI Challenge: Focus on Books, Music, Film & Television

NYC Media Lab & Bertelsmann

text logos for NYC Media Lab and Bertelsmann

AI & the Creative Industries Challenge

Application Deadline Extended: Sunday, October 1, 2023 11:59 pm ET

If one were to read today’s headlines (or anything else, if they were being written and not on pause), they would find the Writers Guild of America on strike partly because of concerns that AI could replace them. The music industry just witnessed, or rather listened to, “Heart on my Sleeve,” composed by AI and performed by an AI Drake. 

Is this another Renaissance (and arts will flourish) or has Pandora’s box been thrown open thanks to the geyser that is artificial intelligence? 

This is the question that Bertelsmann and the NYC Media Lab are exploring in the 2023 Challenge: How will AI impact the creative industries? 

We’re seeking teams to join this Challenge is an open exploration of the future of artificial intelligence, including breakthrough opportunities that could boost Bertelsmann’s content creators, audiences, and businesses in the years to come. The Challenge asks teams to explore new ways to utilize artificial intelligence specifically for Fremantle TV, Penguin Random House, and Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) in creating digital content, reaching new audiences, and operating its businesses. 

Watch the video from our virtual info session September 20 to learn more.


Program Details

Up to five teams will be selected by Bertelsmann and the NYC Media Lab to participate in a virtual 8-week cohort program in which they will develop their ideas and projects. Teams will be provided with guidance from Bertelsmann mentors and others related to music, book publishing, and/or film and TV, as well as Bertelsmann’s digital and investment arms.  NYC Media Lab colleagues and academic partners will also provide inspiration and direction to the teams. 

Applicants should be prepared to create something during the Challenge, be it an extension of a current offering or solution, a new function or feature, or an adaption of their product or service for the creative industries, among others.  

Given the dialogue and collaboration with the Bertelsmann executives participating, established teams and projects (rather than new ideas, research, or teams that have not yet built a working prototype or more) will be given priority during selection.

During the 8-weeks, teams will meet to discuss development, address challenges, and refine plans as well as their pitches. Outside speakers will be invited to provide their perspective on artificial intelligence and the teams’ specific projects. This is a remote program and all meetings will take place virtually.

We do not take equity or any stake in participating companies and do not take ownership of any intellectual property developed by teams during the Challenge.

At the conclusion of the 8-week challenge, Bertelsmann and The NYC Media Lab will host a Demo Day for the teams to demonstrate the outcome of their projects.

About Bertelsmann

Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company that operates in about 50 countries around the world. It includes the entertainment group RTL Group, the trade book publisher Penguin Random House, the music company BMG, the service provider Arvato Group, Bertelsmann Marketing Services, the Bertelsmann Education Group and Bertelsmann Investments, an international network of funds. The company has 165,000 employees worldwide and generated revenues of €20.2 billion in the 2022 financial year. Bertelsmann stands for creativity and entrepreneurship. This combination promotes first-class media content and innovative service solutions that inspire customers around the world. Bertelsmann aspires to achieve climate neutrality by 2030.

Past Programs

NYC Media Lab and Bertelsmann conducted a 12-week open-ended exploration of the future of NFTs and blockchain in the music, book, publishing, and TV industries with 3 startup teams. 

For nearly two centuries, Bertelsmann has maintained a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship, taking market-leading positions in mature sectors while simultaneously building new business frontiers enabled by technology. One of those frontiers is blockchain, which Bertelsmann has been an “early mover” for by testing and experimenting with use cases that touch its core media, services, and education businesses. This NYC Media Lab NFT and Blockchain Challenge carried the same creative, entrepreneurial spirit, seeking breakthrough opportunities unlocked by blockchain and NFTs to boost Bertelsmann’s business in the years, decades, and centuries ahead.

This challenge asked participants to explore new ways to create digital assets and interactive content to reach new audiences in the music, book publishing, and TV industries. The final output included a digital asset or assets, alongside a presentation, to explain how the project was a compelling use case amongst one or more of the above listed industries.

The three teams participating in the Bertelsmann challenge all experienced significant pivots during the program, with all landing on different paths from where they originally started. Quicksplits maintained its core focus on blockchain enabled royalty contracts, transitions to the new name and platform Slyce. Mowies, the content creator looking to use NFTs to create revenue streams for its artists, suffered the slings and arrows of the collapsing crypto and NFT markets and shuttered, finding new roles for its team in other organizations. EvergreenNFT, taking the counsel of many Bertelsmann executives, shifted its focus to the actual content (“would you rather own the Mona Lisa, or the receipt?” in their words), and with Demo Day, refined and focused even further on data security.

April - June 2022

Participating teams met weekly with NYC Media Lab and Bertelsmann to present progress and receive feedback in a cohort-based setting. The feedback focused on rapid prototyping, as well as experiments in product-market fit. 

The program concluded with a final presentation and demo day for Bertelsmann leadership and select members of the NYCML community.