YouTube wants to make AI-made music legitimate

  • YouTube says that it is starting an AI music incubator, and has signed on Universal Music Group as partner.
  • Earlier this year Universal took down an AI-made song featuring Drake and The Weeknd.
  • Yo Gotti, Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA and the estate of Frank Sinatra have signed on to take part of the incubator.

The internet’s favourite place to watch videos is taking steps into legitimising AI-generated music. On Monday, YouTube launched its “YouTube Music AI Incubator” and signed a partnership with Universal Music Group to leverage its artists, songwriters and producers to begin making music through generative AI technology.

According to an official blog post, YouTube has seen creators on the platform steadily embrace AI tools, especially in making the creative process easier. It says that videos related to learning about and using said tools have garnered more than 1.7 billion views on the platform.

“As generative AI unlocks ambitious new forms of creativity, YouTube and our partners across the music industry agree to build on our long collaborative history and responsibly embrace this rapidly advancing field,” explains Neal Mohan, CEO of YouTube.

“Our goal is to partner with the music industry to empower creativity in a way that enhances our joint pursuit of responsible innovation.”

As part of its deal with Universal, artists such as rapper Yo Gotti, Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA, Anitta, Max Richter and others, as well as the estate of Frank Sinatra, will take part in the AI music incubator.

“This talented group will help gather insights on generative AI experiments and research that are being developed at YouTube,” Mohan adds.

The creation of audio using generative AI has entered the mainstream zeitgeist several times in the last few years. AI-generated music using samples from the music of real artists has led to viral success in the past. A song made using samples of music from Drake and The Weeknd through the technology has nearly 5 million views on YouTube, becoming an example of how AI can make actual, enjoyable music.

Some artists are also embracing the movement. Electronics music DJ Grimes once Tweeted that she was happy splitting royalties 50/50 for any music made by AI using her songs as samples.

Interestingly, the AI Drake song was pulled from streaming platforms by Universal itself due to “copyright violations,” or perhaps it was simply upset they didn’t think about it first after seeing the views and interest explode around it.

It is no wonder why a massive licenser like Universal would be taking part in the incubator. It can leverage its vast library of music to generate untold swathes of audio using the technology. It can even use music from long-dead artists to come up with brand-new, authentic-sounding songs. This is notable especially with the Sinatra Estate looking to also collaborate.

Right now the incubator is in its early stages, and nothing solid has been announced music-wise. The announcement is more of a declaration of intent and policy from YouTube. Its parent company Google, late to the generative AI party, has been investing considerably in the tech to tackle rivals like Microsoft.

[Image – Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash]


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