News & Analysis

AI Music is Kosher for YouTube

At a time when content creators around the world are scared stiff of how artificial intelligence would impact their lives, YouTube thinks all’s actually well

“AI is here, and we will embrace it responsibly together with our music partners.” At one glance if you thought this statement was coming from a music label… think again. This is Google-owned online video service YouTube making a clarion call to musicians across the world that they’re here to help, even if their songs are generated by artificial intelligence. 

In an announcement made by YouTube on its website via a blogpost, the company has shared plans on how it seeks to approach AI technology and its impact on the music industry. It not only shares how the video hosting company would deal with the technology but also how it hopes to manage the existing partnerships with the music industry, which hasn’t been too happy with AI. 

Bullish on AI, but want creators to make money

Of course, the blogpost is quite bullish on the potential of AI to “enhance music’s unique creative expression.” Not surprising, given that Google, along with Microsoft and other Big Tech businesses are singing paeans around AI post November 2022 when OpenAI came calling with ChatGPT, a generative AI story that surprised many and shocked a few. 

However, given YouTube’s association with music companies, artists, labels and rights holders, the blog also notes that supporting AI would not be at the cost of ensuring the integrity of an artist’s work and its continued protection. Which is why it’s launching a Music AI Incubator that assists us to get inputs on the company’s approach to AI. 

A pilot project involving Universal Music

The first initiative planned under this program has YouTube working with Universal Music Group (UMG) and their talent roster. Some of the names include: songwriters Anitta, Björn Ulvaeus, musician-composer Don Was, and Max Richter, songwriter and producer Rodney Jerkins,  singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash among others. 

It’s tough to tell whether YouTube is pushing UMG towards accepting AI in music as earlier this year the company had asked streaming services such as Spotify to curtail AI companies from using their music to train models. Readers would recall that they had issued copyright notices against AI-generated YouTube videos that leveraged the work of their artists. 

Most creative artists who rely heavily on their original work getting them accolades and money have been cautious about AI’s role in music. UMG has been quite shrill about AI using seminal work from the artists to train their models that is then used to recreate new art without adequate permissions or compensations. 

Get what you can from music pirates! 

Of course, another way to look at this new exercise is that UMG wants to capture what it can in terms of money from those that use such AI models to generate music while completely ignoring copyright. YouTube’s blog post states quite clearly that they intend to develop some structure that would ensure that those holding rights to music get paid. 

“Content ID ensures rights holders get paid for use of their content and has generated billions for the industry over the years. A new era of generated content is here, and it gives us an opportunity to reimagine and evolve again. We’re eager to further build on our focus of helping artists and creators make money on YouTube…,” the blog says. 

Additionally, YouTube also notes that trust and safety were key to make the system work for which it has policies around technically manipulated content designed to mislead viewers. Similarly, it aims to scale systems to ensure that generative AI isn’t used for copyright abuse, misinformation and spam.

The company alludes to its latest effort as just a start and promises more details about how its new system for AI music would function in terms of specific technologies, opportunities to generate revenues etc. in the near future. Till such time, let the copyright busters fool around with all the original stuff out there and make merry! 

Leave a Response