YouTube and Universal Music Group have announced a joint AI Music Incubator group alongside a set of AI principles the companies have collaborated on. 

The announcement confirms earlier reports that the two companies were in discussions over the use of artists’ copyrighted material in AI. 

The AI music policies encourage artists to “embrace” it as well as lay out “appropriate protections” for collaborators. 

Universal Music Group is one of the biggest music companies that publishes music from some of the world’s best-known artists. Just last year (2022) GlobalData reported that the company achieved a net income of $822m. 

The companies’ AI Music Incubator project has immediate support from several artists like Rosanne Cash, Abba’s Björn Ulvæus and Max Richter. The project will also include music from Frank Sinatra’s estate. 

AI’s role in music and the arts has been widely discussed and this week (22 August) the US Supreme Court ruled that AI cannot receive authorship rights. Artists have been widely concerned with the role AI may play in their futures and generative AI has been central to the recent writers’ strike in Hollywood. 

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By GlobalData

Abba’s Björn Ulvæus reflected on this in his statements about joining the AI music group. 

“While some may find my decision controversial, I’ve joined this group with an open mind and purely out of curiosity about how an AI model works and what it could be capable of in a creative process.” explained Ulvæus, “… the more I understand, the better equipped I’ll be to advocate for and to help protect the rights of my fellow human creators.” 

Universal does acknowledge in its announcement that generative AI can potentially “amplify” concerns around copyright and misinformation but promises an artist-centric approach to embracing AI will minimise these issues. 

“AI will never replace human creativity,” says Universal Music Group CEO Sir Lucian Grainge, “because it will always lack the essential spark that drives the most talented artists to do their best work, which is intention. From Mozart to The Beatles to Taylor Swift, genius is never random.”