Music IndustryTech

YouTube is now in the business of offering AI-generated vocal clones of superstar singers

DeepMind, Google’s artificial intelligence division, is getting into the business of vocal clones of well-known performers with an AI program it calls Lyria. It ““excels at generating high-quality music with instrumentals and vocals, performing transformation and continuation tasks, and giving users more nuanced control of the output’s style and performance.”

At first, this tech will only be available for “labels or distributors who represent artists participating in YouTube’s early AI music experiments.” Experiments? What sorts of experiments?

The first venture is called “Dream Track in YouTube Shorts.” Nine artists–or rather, vocal clones of these artists–are the first to be involved: Alec Benjamin, Charlie Puth, Charli XCX, Demi Lovato, John Legend, Papoose, Sia, T-Pain, and Troye Sivan. They’ve consented to making AI-generated versions of their voices for “a small group of US creators” to have fun with in their YouTube Shorts videos.

YouTube says this: “By simply typing an idea into the creation prompt and selecting a participating artist that appears in the carousel, an original Shorts soundtrack featuring the AI-generated voice of that artist will be produced for the creator to use in their Short…Imagine being able to more seamlessly turn one’s thoughts and ideas into music; like creating a new guitar riff just by humming it or taking a pop track you are working on and giving it a reggaeton feel.”

It works like this. Creators type in a topic for a song and then choose from the list of participating artists. The AI will then create a 30-second soundtrack for a Short using the chosen artist’s voice. Lyrics and backing tracks will also be generated.

Here’s an example.

Universal Music Group, the biggest label on the planet, is on board. Head dude Sir Lucian Grange had this to say:

“We have a fundamental responsibility to our artists to ensure the digital ecosystem evolves to protect them and their work against unauthorized exploitation, including by generative AI platforms…At the same time, we must help artists achieve their greatest creative and commercial potential – in part by providing them access to the kind of opportunities and cutting-edge creative tools made possible by AI.”

The future has arrived. Frankly, I’m not sure what to make of it yet. Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37884 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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