YouTube Engages in AI Music Deal Negotiations with Leading Labels

a YouTube logo is surrounded by black vinyl records on a white background
Credit: YouTube

a YouTube logo is surrounded by black vinyl records on a white background
Credit: YouTube

As AI continues to rise, there's no doubt that AI music generators will likely be among those most affected. Record labels are keen to halt any technology that might cause a loss in profits or work without proper licensing, as many recall from the iconic LimeWire days. However, YouTube is eager to avoid repeating these mistakes, as the Google-owned video platform is actively working on potential AI deals.

While the best AI chatbots are surging in popularity among AI communities, and the potential for the best AI image generators and video tools like OpenAI’s Sora seems inevitable, it's no surprise that many companies are developing artificial music. It appears that YouTube, owned by Google, is one of them.

According to the Financial Times, YouTube is offering "lump sums of cash" to major record labels, including Sony, Warner, and Universal Music Group, in an effort to secure licensing agreements to train its AI software. This initiative is unrelated to YouTube's Dream Track AI, a tool with participation from only 10 musicians.

In fact, according to the report, YouTube is keen to roll out a music AI generator tool this year, aiming to sign up "dozens of artists" before its release. Similar sources suggest that this could be tied to YouTube Shorts, Google’s TikTok competitor integrated within the YouTube platform.

Currently, many companies are forming partnerships to enhance AI features or to further develop existing ones. Apple has teamed up with OpenAI for upcoming AI features in iOS 18, aptly named Apple Intelligence. Microsoft’s Copilot also utilizes ChatGPT-4o.

However, while record labels may be negotiating licensing agreements with YouTube, artists are not as willing to comply. Recently, over 200 artists signed an open letter stating, "Unchecked, AI will set in motion a race to the bottom that will degrade the value of our work and prevent us from being fairly compensated for it."

Regardless, Google is already under scrutiny for its AI tools. The release of Google’s AI overviews led to the search tool making inappropriate suggestions, such as advising people to drink urine, with Reddit data being one of its primary datasets. If YouTube collaborates with record labels, it remains to be seen how far it will advance its AI music tool.

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