The advent of a terrifyingly impressive new AI tool is becoming a daily occurrence in 2023, so kudos to YouTube for creating something that feels genuinely unsettling. The company has unveiled a new music generation model, capable of mimicking various celebrity voices and creating new music based on text prompts.
Artists including Charli XCX, Demi Lovato, John Legend and Sia have signed up to the limited trial, meaning they have given their permission for their vocal likeness to be used in the creation of short, unique music tracks in their style. Visual artists are already concerned about the impact of AI on their livelihoods, and it sounds like musicians might not be entirely safe either.
"Today we shared a sneak peek at our first set of AI-related music experiments - Dream Track for Shorts and Music AI tools – built in collaboration with Google DeepMind," YouTube announced in a new blog post.
YouTube intends for the generated 30-second 'Dream tracks' to be used in Shorts, the company's answer to TikTok and Instagram Reels. "By simply typing an idea into the creation prompt and selecting a participating artist that appears in the carousel, an original Shorts soundtrack featuring the AI-generated voice of that artist will be produced for the creator to use in their Short," YouTube explains.
But even if the artists themselves have given permission (presumably for an impressive fee), this does feel like a step in an ever-more dystopian direction. As one YouTube commenter aptly puts it, "My biggest fear with things like this is AI content oversaturating original content. It's already noticeable in the swaths of shorts with AI generated voices that just narrate over an already existing video and often completely make things up for views."
And even some of the artists themselves sound a little nervous. The above blog post features soundbites from them, and the topic of AI is clearly one they're cautious of. "When I was first approached by YouTube I was cautious and still am, AI is going to transform the world and the music industry in ways we do not yet fully understand," says Charlie XCX, while Troye Sivan adds, "I’ve collaborated with and trusted Google/YouTube for many years, and while I remain cautious about the future of AI - I’m both excited and curious to see how this creative experiment evolves."
Indeed, it seems we've come a long way from glitchy videos of Will Smith eating spaghetti – AI's ability to generate original content is only becoming more advanced. Just look how much image generators have improved in one year alone.