YouTube introduces AI tool Dream Track that mimics artists’ singing

People walk past a billboard advertisement for YouTube on September 27, 2019 in Berlin, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images

YouTube is launching a new artificial intelligence-powered tool that will allow users to record audio with the voices of some of today’s most famous musicians, the company announced Thursday.

The new product, called “Dream Track,” is a collaboration with nine musicians including John Legend, Demi Lovato, T-Pain and Sia, among others. Through text-based instructions, users can automatically generate short tracks of up to 30 seconds using the voice and style of a participating artist.

From launch, approximately 100 YouTubers in the US will have access to the tool. It will be limited to YouTube Shorts, the platform’s short-video sharing feature that competes with TikTok, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance.

Launching as a video giant owned by alphabet, wants to benefit from the interface between AI technology and music and, together with artists and major record companies, is considering the ethical and legal implications of the new technology. In the past, the plagiarism-like practice of using artists’ voices for generative AI without their consent has been criticized by labels and lawmakers alike.

In a blog post on Thursday, YouTube executives said “AI has brought music to the threshold of a new creative era” and the platform hopes its approach will be “infused with partnership and responsibility.”

“In this initial phase, the experiment is designed to help explore how the technology could be used to create deeper connections between artists and creators, and ultimately their fans,” said YouTube head of music Lyor Cohen and vice president of new experiences and community products Toni Reid wrote in one blog entry Thursday.

The company announced in the blog post rehearse about what AI-generated music experiments – created in collaboration with Google DeepMind – would sound like. The company was also represented Testify by the artists themselves, who conceived the platform as a way to participate in the emerging AI music space.

“As an artist, I’m happy to have a seat at the table and I look forward to seeing what creators come up with during this time,” Legend said.

Lovato added: “The development of AI technology is rapidly changing the way we move across the landscape, and I believe that as artists we must be part of shaping that future.”

In recent months, AI-generated music has been popping up all over the site, racking up millions of views, without permission from artists or record labels. An example is the viral song “Heart on my sleeve“, which used AI-generated vocals from Drake and The Weeknd. In April, Universal Music Group asked YouTube and other music-sharing sites to remove the song over copyright claims.

CNBC has reached out to Universal Music Group for comment.

The launch of Dream Track is part of a series of AI-related experiments that parent company Google has been conducting in recent months to stay ahead of the evolution of AI technology. Last month, the company introduced “Dream Screen,” which allows users to add AI-generated backgrounds or short videos to their content simply by typing a command prompt.

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