It’s the question everyone has been pondering of late: how will the music industry react to the rise of AI and its myriad implications for artists and creativity?
Well, YouTube have come forward with some answers today as they publish its set of "AI music principles", as well as unveiling the YouTube Music AI Incubator, which will start with artists, songwriters and producers from Universal Music Group.
First, the principles. As outlined by YouTube CEO, Neal Mohan, there are three governing ones that get to the heart of the company’s vision for how they will “enhance creative expression while also protecting artistic integrity on the platform.”
"Today, AI is moving at a pace faster than ever before," said Mohan. "It’s empowering creativity, sparking new ideas, and even transforming industries. At this critical inflection point, it’s clear that we need to boldly embrace this technology with a continued commitment to responsibility. With that in mind, over the past few months I’ve spent time talking with AI experts working across YouTube as well as leaders in one of the most influential and creative forces in the world: the music industry."
You can read the three core principles published by YouTube below:
Principle #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."
Principle #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."
Principle #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."
In his closing remarks, Mohan said: "These three principles are a critical part of our overall approach to AI at YouTube. In the months ahead, we’ll share more about specific technologies, monetization opportunities, and policies we’re developing. And we’ll continue to talk with additional partners about how to broaden our efforts."
At this critical inflection point, it’s clear that we need to boldly embrace this technology with a continued commitment to responsibility
You can read Mohan's blog in full here.
The news was bolstered by a guest blog on YouTube by none other than Universal Music Group chairman and CEO, Sir Lucian Grainge – who helped shape the principles. In his blog, Grainge outlined his vision for an “artist centric approach” to generative AI.
“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,” observed Grainge. “If we strike the right balance, I believe AI will amplify human imagination and enrich musical creativity in extraordinary new ways.”
He continued: “Our enduring faith in human creativity is the bedrock of Universal Music Group’s collaboration with YouTube on the future of AI. Central to our collective vision is taking steps to build a safe, responsible and profitable ecosystem of music and video – one where artists and songwriters have the ability to maintain their creative integrity, their power to choose, and to be compensated fairly.”
Grainge was keen to stress that Universal’s approach to AI is to let it assist human creativity, not usurp it.
“Today, our partnership is building on that foundation with a shared commitment to lead responsibly, as outlined in YouTube’s AI principles, where Artificial Intelligence is built to empower human creativity, and not the other way around,” he said. “AI will never replace human creativity 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.”
You can read the full blog here.
If we strike the right balance, I believe AI will amplify human imagination and enrich musical creativity in extraordinary new ways
Sir Lucian Grainge
As aforementioned, part of YouTube’s news was the reveal of its new AI Music Incubator, which will see Universal alumni like Anitta, Björn Ulvaeus, D4vd, Don Was, Juanes, Louis Bell, Max Richter, Rodney Jerkins, Rosanne Cash, Ryan Tedder, Yo Gotti, and the Estate of Frank Sinatra shape YouTube’s approach to generative AI in music.
Speaking about the incubator, Björn Ulvaeus concluded: “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. I believe that the more I understand, the better equipped I'll be to advocate for and to help protect the rights of my fellow human creators."