YouTube Launches Music AI Incubator with UMG as Partner

YouTube is developing a plan for responsible AI that includes creating a framework to compensate recording artists and copyright holders for machine-generated music. YouTube’s Music AI Incubator — with support from early partner Universal Music Group — aims to help singers, songwriters, musicians and producers sort out issues like compensation and intellectual property protections, and work with trade groups and government officials on means of enforcement. YouTube CEO Neal Mohan says creators “have embraced AI to streamline and boost their creative processes,” with YouTube logging “more than 1.7 billion views of videos related to AI tools” this year.

YouTube is initially working with Universal Music Group and its talent roster, including Brazilian singer Anitta, composer Max Richter, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, producer-musicians Don Was and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and the estate of Frank Sinatra, among others, according to a blog post by Mohan.

“Unlike YouTube, UMG has been more hesitant to embrace AI,” TechCrunch says, explaining that “earlier this year, it asked streaming services like Spotify to prevent AI companies from using its music to train their models,” while also issuing “copyright strikes on AI-generated YouTube videos that leveraged its artists’ work.”

When a creator used generative AI to copy the style of Drake and the song went viral, UMG took steps to have the tune removed from Spotify, Apple Music and across the Internet, TechCrunch writes.

Mohan writes that YouTube is “working closely” with music partners “to develop an AI framework to help us work toward our common goals,” and has initially come up with “three fundamental AI principles [that] serve to enhance music’s unique creative expression while also protecting music artists and the integrity of their work.” They are:

  1. AI is here, and we will embrace it responsibly together with our music partners. Advancements in generative AI are no longer a future promise. Millions of people already embrace it in their day-to-day lives. Working together, we will better understand how these technologies can be most valuable for artists and fans.
  2. AI is ushering in a new age of creative expression, but it must include appropriate protections and unlock opportunities for music partners who decide to participate. Continuing our strong track record of protecting the creative work of artists on YouTube, we’ve made massive investments over the years in the systems that help balance the interests of copyright holders with those of the creative community on YouTube including Content ID, our best-in-class rights management technology.
  3. We’ve built an industry-leading trust and safety organization and content policies. We will scale those to meet the challenges of AI. One example is our policies prohibiting certain technically manipulated content. That means on YouTube, you can’t upload a video that’s been technically manipulated to promote false claims or mislead viewers about an atrocity in a way that could lead to serious risk of harm.

“In the months ahead, we’ll share more about specific technologies, monetization opportunities, and policies we’re developing,” Mohan explained in the post. “And we’ll continue to talk with additional partners about how to broaden our efforts.”

YouTube and Universal Music Group Join Forces to Explore the Future of AI Music, VentureBeat, 8/21/23
How Frank Sinatra and Yo Gotti Are Influencing the Future of Music on YouTube, The Wall Street Journal, 8/21/23

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