As AI-generated content continues to gain momentum, YouTube is developing an AI tool that will allow users to create content replicating the voices of famous artists.
Its successful implementation will allow users and content creators to sound like their favorite artists, mimicking the voices of stars like Drake or Katy Perry.
Record labels roped in
Reports suggest that the tool, whose name is not yet known, was scheduled to be released together with an array of other AI tools the video streaming platform released last month. YouTube released numerous AI-powered tools, like photo and video backgrounds, as well as video topic suggestions. However, licensing issues stalled the progress of the voice cloning tool.
An article by Bloomberg reports that the video streaming platform is currently in talks with music companies to obtain rights to use songs from their catalogs to train the model, although there are no major music labels that have signed the deal yet, according to reports.
Other music labels involved in the talks include Universal Music Group (UMG), Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group.
Reports also suggest YouTube will keep the beta rollout tight, with a few content creators using it. According to a Gizmodo article, YouTube will pick a few content creators to sample videos imitating the voices of a selected group of artists.
Additionally, YouTube will bank on the artists to provide feedback on the project and help the company on its quest to use AI “beyond this voice generator.”
The AI conundrum
While generative AI has provided opportunities for artists and content creators, the technology has also divided opinion within the music industry. Some artists have embraced it as a tool that can improve their production, while the same technology has been accused of destroying creativity and causing copyright infringement.
An AI-generated song, “Heart on My Sleeve,” featuring the AI voices of Drake and The Weeknd, opened a can of worms as debates raged on the implications of using the technology in the music and arts industry.
With YouTube’s plans for a voice cloning tool and discussions with music labels, it is still not clear if this will put to rest potential copyright concerns that have been raised by record labels at a time when the industry is seeing an increase in AI songs emulating popular musicians.
In the case of “Heart on My Sleeve,” UMG had to intervene, forcing music streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music to remove the song from their catalogs after it went viral.
But industry stakeholders can see the use of AI is inevitable and are looking at ways of striking a balance in promoting innovation in an ethical manner that does not infringe on other parties.
In August, YouTube’s parent company, Google, and UMG were reportedly in talks to license artists voices to use AI to recreate their vocals.
Under this arrangement, fans can use their favorite artists’ voices to create content, and the artists will be compensated as the copyright holders.
Google and UMG further strengthened their relationship with the launch of a YouTube incubator that “will see artists guide YouTube’s approach to dealing with AI-generated music content.”