YouTube partners with Universal Music Group to develop AI tools that offer “safe, responsible and profitable” opportunities to music rights holders

YouTube CEO Neal Mohan outlines three key principles guiding the company’s approach to AI.

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The rise of artificial intelligence and its implications on copyright in the music industry have been a growing cause for concern for many musicians and producers.

Essentially, AI music creation models have to use existing material as a basis for creating new compositions, but many are anxious that those who inspire such models won’t be fairly compensated for their work.

To address this, YouTube has partnered with Universal Music Group to develop AI tools that offer “safe, responsible and profitable” opportunities to music rights holders.

First in the coalition’s list of priorities is the development of a Music AI Incubator at YouTube, a program in which new tools and innovations will be developed at the company in close conjunction with artists and other music industry players.

Thus far, such artists include Brazilian star Anitta, ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, producer Louis Bell, d4vd, the Frank Sinatra estate, neo-classical composer Max Richter, as well as Don Was, Ryan Tedder, Rodney Jerkins, Rosanne Cash and Juanes.

“This talented group [of artists and producers] will help gather insights on generative AI experiments and research that are being developed at YouTube,” says YouTube CEO, Neal Mohan.

“We’re also excited to welcome our partners across the industry into the program as we move forward.

“Working together, we will better understand how these technologies can be most valuable for artists and fans, how they can enhance creativity, and where we can seek to solve critical issues for the future.”

As he explains in a new blog post, beyond YouTube’s new AI ‘Incubator’ project, it is committing to three principles that will guide its development of music-based generative AI tools in the future.

They are, in his own words:

  1. “AI is here, and we will embrace it responsibly together with our music partners. 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. Our goal is to partner with the music industry to empower creativity in a way that enhances our joint pursuit of responsible innovation.
  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. We’re 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.
  3. We’ve built an industry-leading trust and safety organization and content policies. We will scale those to meet the challenges of AI. We spent years investing in the policies and trust and safety teams that help protect the YouTube community, and we’re also applying these safeguards to AI-generated content. Generative AI systems may amplify current challenges like trademark and copyright abuse, misinformation, spam, and more. But AI can also be used to identify this sort of content, and we’ll continue to invest in the AI-powered technology that helps us protect our community of viewers, creators, artists and songwriters – from Content ID, to policies and detection and enforcement systems that keep our platform safe behind the scenes. And we commit to scaling this work even further.”

Following the new partnership, Universal Music Group Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge offers his thoughts.

“I recognise AI’s potential for misappropriation and misinformation,” he says. “Today’s rapid technological advancements have enabled digital manipulation, appropriation and misattribution of an artist’s name, image, likeness, voice and style – the very characteristics that differentiate them as performers with unique vision and expression.

“Given this tension, our challenge and opportunity as an industry is to establish effective tools, incentives and rewards – as well as rules of the road – that enable us to limit AI’s potential downside while promoting its promising upside. If we strike the right balance, I believe AI will amplify human imagination and enrich musical creativity in extraordinary new ways.

“Our enduring faith in human creativity is the bedrock of Universal Music Group’s collaboration with YouTube on the future of AI.”

Read both Neal Mohan and Sir Lucian Grainge‘s statements to learn more about the new YouTube Universal Music Group partnership.


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