The world’s biggest record label, Universal Music Group, announced plans to offer its artists AI models of their own voices.

The corporation’s deal with digital startup firm SoundLabs will create software called MicDrop, designed to replicate an individual voice via machine learning techniques. The artist will retain full control of the model – it won’t be used in any way without permission, won’t be available to the public, and the voice owner will profit from its use.

MidDrop is the latest iteration of technology that’s been under development for years and has already begun impacting the music industry. Practical uses include being able to sing in foreign languages without having learned them; being able to create music after health issues prevent one’s vocal cords from working; and even allowing music to be made after one’s death.

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In addition, the voice model can by used like the voices on a synthesizer, offering additional creative opportunities. While its use as an onstage tool remain to be revealed, it could theoretically be used by a singer like Jon Bon Jovi – who fears he may never tour again as a result of health issues – to stay on the road.

“MicDrop is the first in a suite of interoperable AI tools and services developed by SoundLabs for sound design and music generation,” UMG said in a statement. “It gives artists new ‘music super-powers’ and completely reimagines how music is made, enabling them to expand what is possible.

“SoundLabs’ goal is to place powerful new compositional tools at artists’ fingertips, while supporting proper management of their intellectual property. SoundLabs… is focused on helping artists retain creative control over their data and models.”

Future of Music is Human, Says AI Developer

“We believe the future of music creation is decidedly human,” said BT, musician and boss of SoundLabs – which uses the tagline “Transform your voice into any voice, instantly.” He continued: “Artificial intelligence, when used ethically and trained consensually, has the promethean ability to unlock unimaginable new creative insights, diminish friction in the creative process and democratize creativity… We are designing tools not to replace human artists, but to amplify human creativity.”

Chris Horton, SVP of UMG – which recently revealed its Principles for Music Creation With AI – added: “UMG strives to keep artists at the center of our AI strategy, so that technology is used in service of artistry, rather than the other way around.

“We are thrilled to be working with SoundLabs and BT, who has a deep and personal understanding of both the technical and ethical issues related to AI. SoundLabs will allow UMG artists to push creative boundaries using voice-to-voice AI to sing in languages they don’t speak, perform duets with their younger selves, restore imperfect vocal recordings, and more.”

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