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Universal Music Group Signs Deal with AI Startup Endel

Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced a partnership with Endel, a company that uses AI to generate soundscapes meant to produce work, meditation, and sleep. UMG will license use of Endel’s technology to enable its artists to create “science backed” soundscapes to “enhance listeners’ wellness”. The deal includes both new music and new versions of catalog music.
Endel’s model includes variables such as weather, time of day, location, and heart rate when customizing its video streams for individual users. Previous collaborations include projects with Grimes, Miguel, Richie Hawtin, and UMG artist James Blake.

UMG’s chief digital officer Michael Nash said this in a statement:

“At UMG, we believe in…ethical AI as a tool to support and enhance the creativity of our artists, labels and songwriters…We are excited to work together and utilize their patented AI technology to create new music soundscapes…that are designed to enhance audience wellness, powered by AI that respects artists’ rights in its development.”

The productive aspects of Endel’s technology are designed to enable musicians to use AI to produce music repeatedly. This will allow creators to create music in their own style. Endel’s co-founder and chief composer, Dmitry Evgrafov told Pitchfork last year that “We’re able to create albums with the push of a button”.

On April 14, a TikTok user uploaded a song called “Heart on My Sleeve”, which used AI to simulate the style and voice of UMG artists Drake and the Weeknd. UMG responded with a takedown notice. Three days later, James Murtagh-Hopkins, UMG’s senior vice president of communications, issued a statement condemning the use of copyrighted music to train AI models:

“The training of generative AI using our artists’ music as well as the availability of infringing content created with generative AI on DSPs, begs the question as to which side of history all stakeholders in the music ecosystem want to be on…these instances demonstrate why platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists. We’re encouraged by the engagement of our platform partners on these issues–as they recognize they need to be part of the solution.”