YouTube thinks it can take an “artist-centric” approach to AI with a new incubator

By 08/21/2023
YouTube thinks it can take an “artist-centric” approach to AI with a new incubator

YouTube thinks it can take an ethical, “artist-centric” approach to generative AI.

In partnership with Universal Music Group, it’s introducing a “Music AI Incubator,” which CEO Neal Mohan says will help it “gather insights” to “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.”

The incubator will bring in UMG and artists/producers on its roster, including Anitta, Björn Ulvaeus, d4vd, Don Was, Juanes, Louis Bell, Max Richter, Rodney Jerkins, Rosanne Cash, Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, Yo Gotti, and the estate of Frank Sinatra.


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YouTube gave no specific details about what it’s working on with the incubator, but Mohan says it’s developing “specific technologies, monetization opportunities, and policies”–all related to AI.

Mohan also claims YouTube’s potential use of generative AI is guided by ethical principles. Any tools it uses “must include appropriate protections and unlock opportunities for music partners who decide to participate,” he says, and it plans to scale its current trust & safety policies “to meet the challenges of AI.”

One policy he mentions in particular is YouTube’s ban on “technically manipulated” videos. Obviously stuff that gets pumped out of AI generators is technically manipulated, and is in some cases difficult to tell from real video, which has resulted in multiple platforms laying down new rules about deepfakes.

Mohan doesn’t say what exactly the plan is with that policy and YouTube’s apparent interest in AI, just said that the platform “will continue to iterate and evolve to meet new challenges.”

Does that mean AI-generated video will eventually be allowed on YouTube? It’s looking like a possibility, but at least for now, YouTube seems to be focusing primarily on generated audio content (which has whipped up a lot of buzz with things like the fake Drake/The Weeknd track “Heart on My Sleeve–and caused significant distress for professionals like voice actors).

“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,” Mohan says. “The principles in our framework–embracing AI, granting protections while unlocking opportunity, and investing in our trust and safety work–provide a strong foundation for YouTube and the music industry to better navigate the world ahead.”

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