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YouTube is considering compensating AI music artists and rightsholders

YouTube announced today how it will handle the impact of AI technology on the music industry on its video hosting platform and its partnerships with artists, labels, and other rightsholders. The company believes AI can “enhance music’s unique creative expression,” but it must protect artists’ work.

YouTube’s Music AI Incubator will work with artists, songwriters, and producers across the industry to inform its AI strategy.

YouTube is partnering with Universal Music Group (UMG) and its talent, including songwriter and producer Anitta, songwriter, producer, and entrepreneur Björn Ulvaeus, musician, composer, and producer Don Was, Columbian musician Juanes, producer Louis Bell, composer Max Richter, songwriter and producer Rodney Jerkins, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder.

UMG is more hesitant to use AI than YouTube. It asked Spotify to stop AI companies from using its music to train their models earlier this year. Copyright strikes were also issued on AI-generated YouTube videos using its artists’ work. UMG pulled a viral AI song that mimicked Drake and The Weeknd’s vocals from Spotify and Apple Music.

UMG’s complaints, like those across creative industries, are about AI models using artists’ work to create new art without permission or compensation. It’s no surprise that UMG and YouTube are working on a rightsholder payment structure.

YouTube notes that it has “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.”

It mentions its Content ID system, which pays rightsholders for platform use. YouTube suggests a similar system for AI music for “music partners who decide to participate.”

The company also states that trust and safety are essential to this system and that it has policies against technically manipulated content that misleads viewers. It also aims to scale those systems to prevent copyright abuse, misinformation, and spam from generative AI. Instead, it will identify such content using AI.

YouTube will reveal its new AI music system’s technologies, monetization opportunities, and policies in the future.

“I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity of AI to supercharge creativity around the world, but recognize that YouTube and the promise of AI will only be successful if our partners are successful,” YouTube CEO Neal Mohan announced. “Together, we can embrace this new technology in a way that supports artists, songwriters, producers, and the industry as a whole while driving value for fans and pushing creative boundaries,” he said.

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