Lyor Cohen discussed “a future where generative AI has a profound impact on music” at the annual Made on YouTube event on Thursday (Sept. 21). YouTube’s longtime global head of music is nothing if not enthusiastic about artificial intelligence and its potential ability to supercharge music-making. Cohen told the attendees that “AI tools are opening up a new playground for creativity;” AI “can be used by artists to amplify and accelerate their creativity;” and AI can usher in “a new era of musical creativity.”
Cohen was joined by Charlie Puth, who played some piano and showed off his beatboxing, and Warner Music Group CEO Robert Kyncl. Kyncl acknowledged that not everyone in music is as excited about AI as Cohen seems to be: “Change is unsettling; we are in that period of change.” He proposed charting a path forward where AI enthusiasts can gain from the technology while artists who are wary of it are somehow shielded from its impacts.
Artists “will create and they will use all kinds of tools to create… that’s their job,” Kyncl said. “It’s our job, the platforms and the music industry, to make sure that artists like Charlie who lean in [to AI] benefit. It’s also our job together to make sure that artists who don’t want to lean in are protected.” He pointed to the success of YouTube’s Content ID system, which helps the platform track user-generated content, as a potential model, because creators can choose to monetize that UGC or block it depending on their preferences.
YouTube previously signaled its interest in being part of music’s AI-driven future in August when it announced an “AI Music Incubator” that will include input from Anitta, Juanes, Ryan Tedder, Rodney Jerkins, and many others.
“This group will explore, experiment and offer feedback on the AI-related musical tools and products they are researching,” Universal CEO Lucian Grainge wrote in a blog post. “Once these tools are launched, the hope is that more artists who want to participate will benefit from and enjoy this creative suite.”
At the Made on YouTube event, CEO Neal Mohan also discussed a suite of new tools for creators that aim to put “the creative power of AI into the hands of billions of people.” These include Dream Screen, which “lets you create AI-generated video or image backgrounds for Shorts by typing in an idea,” and a search function that “will act like a music concierge” when it comes time to find a track to place into a video. “Our creator can just describe her video, and if she wants she can even include information about the length or type of song she’s looking for, and Creator Music suggests the right track at the right price,” Mohan explained.
Jade Beason, a YouTube creator, told the crowd she “spend[s] a lot of time trying to find the right music for videos” and is sometimes “guilty of actually just using the same song [over again] because I just can’t find the right one.” “Music has the ability to change how your audience actually feels when they’re watching your content,” she continued. “It’s the difference between someone seeing a video of yours and laughing or crying… so the idea that we can do this easily amongst everything else is actually quite wild.”