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Universal Music Group Embraces AI “Soundscapes” With New Deal

Universal Music Group — the music label behind Sting, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande – has decided to embrace artificial intelligence, rather than only fight the new technology.

UMG has signed a deal with sound wellness company Endel to enable its roster of artists to use proprietary AI technology to create mood music soundscapes for daily activities like sleep and relaxation. The partnership will aim to respect creators’ rights as UMG gets set to roll out the first wave of soundscapes under the new agreement.

Endel earlier worked with Republic Records’ artist James Blake, who released the ambient Wind Down soundscape 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,” Michael Nash, UMG’s executive vp and chief digital officer, said in a statement.

Rival Warner Musis Group, home to the likes of Ed Sheeran, Cardi B and Bruno Mars, has also signaled a willingness to use AI technologies, even as the industry faces a challenge from AI-generated music content and increasing competition from indie music labels.

“When it comes to generating AI, it needs to be put in proper context. Framing it only as a threat is inaccurate,” Warner Music Group head Robert Kyncl told analysts on May 9, as Warner Music will look to similarly enforce the copyrights for its artists and songwriters, as will UMG.

Endel has also worked with other artists like Miguel and Grimes as they and their labels look to generate additional revenue for their music catalogs.