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Universal Music Group make landmark deal with AI group Endel

Universal Music Group finalise landmark deal with AI startup Endel

(Credits: Far Out / Jakob Rosen / Samuel Regan-Asante)


Amid the growing global conversation surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI), Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced a new deal with Endel, an organisation that uses AI to create instrumental soundscapes to facilitate work, meditation, and sleep. UMG plan to use Endel’s technology to create “science-backed” soundscapes designed to “enhance listeners’ wellness. They plan to create entirely new music as well as alternate versions of pre-extant music.

Endel’s AI software factors in a host of variables, including weather, time of day, location and heart rate, when creating new music on demand tailored for specific users. Endel has previously collaborated with Grimes, Miguel, Richie Hawtin, and UMG artist James Blake.

“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,” UMG’s chief digital officer Michael Nash said in a new press statement. “We are excited to work together and utilise 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.”

Endel’s space-age technology allows musicians to compose infinitely, meaning a song can be customised to continue perpetually in a unique, ever-changing algorithmic progression. “We’re able to create albums with the push of a button,” Endel’s co-founder and chief composer, Dmitry Evgrafov, said in a 2022 interview with Pitchfork.

“UMG’s success has been, in part, due to embracing new technology and putting it to work for our artists–as we have been doing with our own innovation around AI for some time already,” James Murtagh-Hopkins, UMG’s senior vice president of communications said in a recent statement. 

“With that said, however, the training of generative AI using our artists’ music (which represents both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law), 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: the side of artists, fans and human creative expression, or on the side of deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation.

“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 recognise they need to be part of the solution.”

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