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The backstory: Remember when OpenAI's ChatGPT made waves in the world of artificial intelligence (AI), capturing everyone's attention with its impressive abilities? That was last year, and since then, new AI tools have been popping up everywhere.
With that, generative AI has become even more capable of creating music and sounds just from text inputs using a vast library of sound data. For example, an AI-produced track called "Heart on My Sleeve," with voices that sounded like Drake and The Weeknd, blew up on social media, with millions of plays on platforms like TikTok and Spotify. It was later taken down as "infringing content."
More recently: In the music scene, opinions on AI tech are split. On one hand, some give it a warm embrace. For example, Canadian artist Grimes gave a thumbs-up to using AI-generated music featuring her voice, even saying she’d split the royalties with creators 50-50.
But major music labels, like Universal Music, have a different take. In April, the company issued a memo to streaming platforms, urging them to curb AI services producing unauthorized tracks imitating their artists. Universal's CEO, Lucian Grainge, highlighted the potential chaos of unchecked AI content flooding the scene, leading to copyright chaos. Goldman Sachs analysts also underlined the importance of owning intellectual property to leverage AI's benefits while keeping a firm grip on rights.
The development: Now, YouTube has teamed up with Universal Music and heavyweights like Rosanne Cash, Don Was, Yo Gotti and even the Frank Sinatra estate for a collab called Music AI Incubator. This venture is all about exploring the possibilities of AI tools and involving artists in the process. Universal's CEO Grainge gave it a thumbs-up in a recent blog post, and the head of YouTube, Neal Mohan, said it’s about safeguarding copyrights and nipping any misuse of artists' voices in the bud.
YouTube is also amping up its AI-powered tech to make everyone involved, including viewers, creators, artists and songwriters, feel secure. It’s gearing up to reveal AI specifics, monetization opportunities and guidelines in the months to come.
“We’re eager to further build on our focus of helping artists and creators make money on YouTube and will continue to do so in collaboration with our partners,” said YouTube CEO Neal Molan.
“The largest owners of proprietary IP are best positioned to leverage the technology and protect their IP,” said Goldman Sachs analysts in a research note in June.
"I'll split 50% royalties on any successful AI generated song that uses my voice. Same deal as I would with any artist i collab with. Feel free to use my voice without penalty. I have no label and no legal bindings," said musician Grimes on Twitter, now known as X.
“The training of generative AI using our artists’ music (which represents both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law) as well as the availability of infringing content created with generative AI on DSPs [digital service providers], begs the question as to which side of history all stakeholders in the music ecosystem want to be on: the side of artists, fans and human creative expression, or on the side of deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation,” said a spokesperson of streaming services by Universal Music Group when "Heart on My Sleeve" went viral in April.