Will Midjourney support artists financially?

I have a lot of artist friends who are worried about losing their livelihoods to AI art. What if, whenever an AI art generates an image it sends a percentage to them, with a registered account? So they get 10 cents here and there, but with millions of users that could add up to a decent livelihood. Plus... they are creating the raw material that the AI uses to put together it's pieces. Whenever the AI art uses their art, that is.


Unfortunately it wouldn't work. The AI doesn't use any image or art to generate an image, it is trained on images to find patters, and this training produces roughly 1 byte per image (out of the millions of pixels of every image). But consider that it would be possible to associate each such byte used in a generation to an artist to pay. What follows is completely hypothetical as I have no knowledge about Midjourney's business.

  • Say the average Midjourney users pays 100 dollars per year.
  • Say there is an average of 10 million users per year. This means that all the money Midjourney gets is 1 billion dollars per year, out of which they have to pay everything, especially the servers and electricity.
  • The AI is trained on billions of images. As far as I know, and this is actual fact, Stable Diffusion is trained on roughly 5 billion images. To be conservative, round this down to just 1 billion training images.
  • All the money (1 billion dollars) divided to the number of images used in training (1 billion) means 1 dollar per training image per year is all Midjourney gets.
  • If they pay 10% of what they make, that's 10 cents per training image per year.
  • A recent micro-poll showed, and this is actual fact, that 50% of users prefer to generate photos, 50% prefer illustrations.
  • Ignore the above and presume that the users focus much more on generating illustrations / art than photos, so only a small subset of 1% of the training images (= the illustrations / art) is used, so multiply the above 10 cents 100 fold. That's 10 dollars per illustration per year. This is what an artist could possibly get.

People think that because it's possible to generate images with a look similar to what an artist makes, that's what millions of users do all day long. It would be good if artists were paid for the training data, but it wouldn't make a dent because this is a problem of automation of effort, not of art and artistic styles.