Google and Universal Music in Talks for AI-Generated Songs Licensing Agreement

Google, Universal Music Discuss AI-Generated Songs Agreement

Google and Universal Music are reportedly in talks about a licensing agreement for artificial intelligence (AI) generated songs.

The discussions center on how the technology allows melodic and vocal mimicry of established artists in the form of “deepfake” songs, the Financial Times (FT) reported Tuesday (Aug. 8).

The companies aim to develop ways to enable fans to use the technology legitimately and pay the copyright holders, according to the report, which cited unnamed sources. The discussions are in their early stages, so no product launch is imminent.

Google and Universal Music did not immediately reply to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

Jeffrey Harleston, Universal Music’s general counsel, told lawmakers last month, per the report: “An artist’s voice is often the most valuable part of their livelihood and public persona, and to steal it, no matter the means, is wrong.”

Warner Music CEO Robert Kyncl told investors, per the report: “With the right framework in place,” the technology could “enable fans to pay their heroes the ultimate compliment through a new level of user-driven content … including new cover versions and mash-ups.”

Canadian electronic artist Grimes has shown an interest in the technology, even offering to let people use her voice in AI-generated songs and split the royalties, Wired reported.

“There’s some good stuff,” she said, per the report. “…They’re so in line with what my new album might be like that it was sort of disturbing. …On the other hand, it’s like, ‘Oh, sick, I might get to live forever.’ I’m into self-replication.”

Universal Music has urged streaming platforms to prevent AI services from scraping its songs without permission or payment, taking further steps to protect the integrity of artists, FT reported.

Streaming service Spotify said in May that it pulled tens of thousands of AI-generated songs from its platform. Among the songs pulled were ones that were suspected of “artificial streaming,” or online bots posing as human users to boost the songs’ numbers.

In another issue raised around AI and intellectual property, thriller writer James Patterson was among thousands of authors who penned an open letter released in July demanding AI firms get permission and pay writers for the use of their words to train AI models.