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HometechnologyYouTube working on tool that lets creators sing like Drake

YouTube working on tool that lets creators sing like Drake

By Lucas Shaw

YouTube is developing a tool powered by artificial intelligence that would let creators record audio using the voices of famous musicians, according to people familiar with the matter.

The video site has approached music companies about obtaining the rights to songs it could use to train this tool, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. Major record labels have yet to sign off on any deal, though discussions between the two sides continue.

YouTube rolled out a new suite of tools last month that leveraged artificial intelligence, including one that creators can use to create backgrounds for their videos and another that allows for automatic dubbing into other languages. The company had hoped to roll out the music tool at that time, but hadn’t secured the rights.

The legal intersection of artificial intelligence and creative works that include the use of people’s names, images and likenesses is still being worked out and has already led to litigation.

YouTube will have to navigate a path to legal use of this new technology. It had a fraught relationship with the music industry in the past, but that has improved in recent years as the site increased its royalty payments. A company spokesperson declined to comment.

YouTube is owned by Alphabet Inc, a technology giant that has been developing artificial intelligence products for years. Alphabet is in a race with many companies, including Microsoft Corp, to be a leader in what many see as the next great frontier in technology. Alphabet’s growing investment in AI has pushed YouTube to figure out solutions and tools.

The music industry sees AI as both a promising new technology and major threat. The rise of piracy and user-generated content decimated the industry prior to the emergence of paid streaming services like that of Spotify Technology SA. That has made music companies wary of new technology.

But artists also recognize these models could open new avenues for creative expression. Musicians and record labels want to control companies’ ability to use their copyrighted works to train models without permission or compensation. Labels began to look at AI more closely after a song that sounded a lot like Drake — but wasn’t recorded by Drake — went viral online.

YouTube is positioning itself as a partner to help the industry figure out this new technology.

Music companies have been receptive. They have agreed to work with YouTube on a new project generating ideas around AI and music, and Warner Music Group Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robert Kyncl, who previously worked at YouTube, spoke at the video site’s showcase last month.

(Published 19 October 2023, 10:46 IST)

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