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YouTube Attempts To Ink AI Music Deal With Major Music Labels

YouTube app listing [Image: sourced from Unsplash]

YouTube is in talks with major record labels like Sony, Warner, and Universal for an AI music deal, according to a report by Financial Times. Google’s video platform wants access to the labels’ artists to train AI song generators for new music tools that are in the pipeline.

YouTube is reportedly offering undisclosed sums of cash to record labels in a bid to convince more artists to sign over their work. Last year, YouTube launched Dream Track, an AI music generator that could generate songs up to 30 seconds in length based on a text prompt in the styles of major artists. YouTube partnered with artists like John Legend, Charli XCX, T-Pain, Demi Lovato for this venture.

Dream Track signed only 10 artists in the test phase, and now YouTube wants to roll out a new AI music generator with “dozens” of artists. While the music generator hasn’t been officially announced, YouTube is reportedly having conversations with labels about “other experiments.”

Unlike music streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music that pay labels royalties based on streamshare agreements, YouTube’s deal would be more of a one-time payment for access to an artist’s music. Rather than a single license that covers all the artists under a particular label, the deal would apply only to select artists.

Person recording music [Image: sourced from Unsplash]

The news comes at a time when music labels are locked in legal battles with other AI music generation apps over copyright infringement. As ChannelNews reported, Sony, Warner, and Universal filed lawsuits earlier this month against startups Suno and Udio for using copyrighted material to train their AI models. In May, Sony Music Group sent a letter to over 700 companies, including tech and music streaming services, warning them against using any of their material in AI training materials unless they had explicit permission to do so.

Despite its stern warning, Sony is reportedly in talks with YouTube about the new AI music model, even though none of the labels’ artists participated in Dream Track. Earlier this year, over 200 artists, including Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Billie Eilish, and R.E.M., signed an open letter urging tech platforms to stop using AI to infringe upon the rights of artists, particularly when it comes to using their voice and likenesses for music generation.

Platforms like YouTube, however, don’t want to be left behind in the AI race. “We are always testing new ideas and learning from our experiments. We will continue on this path with AI and music as we build for the future,” YouTube said.

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