YouTube wants record labels to license music for its AI song generator

is reportedly locked in talks with major labels, aiming to secure a licensing agreement to train their artificial intelligence tools on the artists' content.

It is a highly controversial and emotive issue with many performers vehemently opposed to the influence of AI with fears that it could undermine their work, its value, and the future prospects of the industry. 

YouTube courts the music industry over AI plans

Google-owned YouTube, which is trying new ways to stop ad-blockers, is attempting to win over the support of a very skeptical industry, and one of the ways it is doing so, is by offering upfront payments.

As reported by the Financial Times, three of the music heavyweights – Sony, Warner, and Universal – are believed to have been approached to open up their portfolio of audio content to be deployed by YouTube with its AI software. 

Crucially, it has been stated the last word would reside with the artists and not the labels on this question, and if they would participate, individually.

In April last year, over 200 artists signed an open letter stating, “We must protect against the predatory use of AI to steal professional artists' voices and likenesses, violate creators' rights, and destroy the music ecosystem.”

Conversely, performers such as John Legend and Charli XCX agreed to participate in a YouTube pilot with the rollout of its Dream Track tool. The generative AI program enabled a select band of creators to pull vocals and lyrics from the artists' catalog. Despite only 10 artists signing up, YouTube claimed to have “dozens” ready to collaborate. 

Industry insider comments on the AI debate

It is a controversial, complex debate that isn't going away as one executive at a large music label told the FT, “The industry is wrestling with this. Technically the companies have the copyrights, but we have to think through how to play it. We don't want to be seen as a Luddite.”

The record companies will not hold back when it comes to protecting their interests, as was shown when major labels Sony and Universal were involved in the legal action taken against AI music generators, Suno and Udio, for mass copyright infringement. 

Under the umbrella of the Recording Industry Association of America, the plaintiffs are seeking up to $150,000 per piece of work infringed.

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