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World’s Largest Music Company Embraces AI

Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company with artists including Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Elton John, is opening its doors to AI.

The company is partnering with Endel, the generative music company that creates AI-powered personalized sound environments, to enable the algorithmic creation of soundscapes for both new music and catalog recordings.

The relationship will enable UMG artists and labels to create soundscapes for listeners’ daily activities including sleep, relaxation and focus using Endel’s proprietary AI technology. In the coming months, UMG will announce the first wave of soundscapes under the new agreement. Endel previously worked with UMG-owned Republic Records’ artist James Blake, whose ambient soundscape Wind Down was released as an album in May 2022.

“At UMG, we believe in the incredible potential of ethical AI as a tool to support and enhance the creativity of our artists, labels and songwriters, something that Endel has harnessed with impressive ingenuity and scientific innovation,” said Michael Nash, Universal Music Group’s EVP, chief digital officer.

“We are excited to work together and utilize their patented AI technology to create new music soundscapes—anchored in our artist-centric philosophy—that are designed to enhance audience wellness, powered by AI that respects artists’ rights in its development.”

Aside from Blake, Endel has collaborated with Miguel and Grimes, among other artists. The company uses artist-provided stems to create soundscapes driven by scientific insights into how music affects listeners’ mind-state. Artists and their teams have the final sign-off on the results they prefer, said Oleg Stavitsky, Endel’s CEO.

“Endel has been artist- and human-focused from day one. Our goal was always to help people focus, relax and sleep with the power of sound. AI is the perfect tool for this,” Stavitsky added.

“It’s extremely exciting to see UMG embracing artist-driven AI. Endel allows music companies like UMG to draw on the astounding capabilities of AI and functional music while respecting their artists’ rights. In that way, Endel acts more as a collaborator than a tool, giving artists control and freedom while satisfying a real market need for more music that can support their wellbeing.”

A key carrot for UMG and other companies, no doubt, is the fact that the soundscapes provide artists and rights holders new opportunities to generate additional revenue for their catalogs. UMG reported an increase of revenue by 21.6 percent in 2022, hitting nearly $10.95 billion.

New AI-generated iterations of songs also can expand and enhance an artist’s presence in new areas of in fans’ lives, while aspiring to support wellness for the listener.