Universal Music Group (UMG) is partnering with Endel, an “AI sound wellness company” specializing in personalized algorithmic soundscapes, the companies announced today. The partnership aims to let UMG artists create machine-learning-generated sounds for activities like sleep, relaxation and focus. Endel previously partnered with synth-pop artist Grimes on a lullaby app.
The record label “will use Endel’s proprietary AI technology to enable UMG artists to create science-backed soundscapes,” the companies said. The soundscapes can contain new music and updated versions of back-catalog tracks. The companies emphasize that the project “will always respect creators’ rights and put artists at the center of the creative process,” adding that musicians and their teams have the final say on the results. UMG and Endel say they’ll announce “the first wave of soundscapes” from the partnership in the coming months.
Endel uses artist stems to make soundscapes “driven by scientific insights into how music affects our mind-state.” The companies describe the collaboration as a way to “provide artists and rights holders new opportunities to generate additional revenue for their catalogs” while letting performers dip their toes into new areas and “support wellness for the listener.” But it’s hard not to see the irony of UMG quickly stomping out AI-generated music that threatens its business model — like when fake Drake and The Weeknd tracks went viral — while putting out rapturous press releases when it sees a potential profit. (Although, to be fair, cloning artists’ voices without their permission would never fly for long, regardless of UMG’s response.)
“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,” said Michael Nash, EVP and Chief Digital Officer at UMG. “We are excited to work together and utilize 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.”