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YouTube is launching a ‘Music AI Incubator’ with Universal Music Group as its first partner. The news was announced this afternoon as part of a blog post by YouTube CEO Neal Mohan about the company’s approach to AI music.

“The incubator will help inform YouTube’s approach as we work with some of music’s most innovative artists, songwriters, and producers across the industry, across a diverse range of culture, genres, and experience,” wrote Mohan.

He named artists and producers including Anitta, ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus, d4vd, Don Was, Juanes, Louis Bell, Max Richter, Rodney Jerkins, Rosanne Cash, Ryan Tedder, Yo Gotti and the estate of Frank Sinatra as part of the initiative.

“This talented group will help gather insights on generative AI experiments and research that are being developed at YouTube,” wrote Mohan, while signalling plans to “welcome our partners across the industry into the program as we move forward”.

UMG, clearly, will be shaping that program with YouTube in its early period. UMG boss Sir Lucian Grainge published his own blog post with YouTube about the partnership.

“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,” wrote Grainge.

He also talked about the work that the working group of artists, songwriters and producers will be doing.

“This group will explore, experiment and offer feedback on the AI-related musical tools and products they are researching. Once these tools are launched, the hope is that more artists who want to participate will benefit from and enjoy this creative suite,” wrote Grainge.

“Forging this path together, as a music community, will enable us to empower this breathtaking technology responsibly to the benefit of the entire creative ecosystem,” he continued.

“Yes, there will surely be give-and-take as we work through AI’s opportunities and challenges. But music has always been fueled by such dynamic exchange, from the most ancient call and response, to dueling composers, to improvisational jazz, competing pop groups, sampling or live battle rap.”

“It’s this spirit of exchange – collaborative and competitive – that has always driven creative progress, and fills me with anticipation and optimism for music yet to come.”

The news follows the recent report that Google was in talks with Universal Music Group about potential licensing models around AI-generated music and ‘deepfake’ tracks.

“Working together, we will better understand how these technologies can be most valuable for artists and fans, how they can enhance creativity, and where we can seek to solve critical issues for the future,” wrote Mohan.

His blog post was structured around three core principles for how YouTube will approach musical AI technologies. Embracing it “responsibly together with our music partners” was the first – including that new incubator.

The second is the commitment that AI “must include appropriate protections and unlock opportunities for music partners who decide to participate”. While there are no details, Mohan made it clear that this is what will drive the next evolution of YouTube’s Content ID rights-management system.

Scaling its trust and safety teams and its content policies is the third principle of YouTube’s plans, meanwhile.

“The limitless potential of generative AI demands a thoughtful approach that maps to the expansive boundaries of creative expression,” wrote Mohan. “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.”

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