Robert Kyncl Lays Out WMG’s Three-Pronged Approach to AI


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Robert Kyncl, CEO of Warner Music Group, praised YouTube’s AI-powered voice generation experiment, which launched this week with the participation of several Warner acts, including Charlie Puth and Charli XCX, during a call with financial analysts on Thursday (Nov. 16).

Kyncl proposed a thought experiment: “Imagine in the early 2000s, if the file-sharing companies came to the music industry, and said, ‘would you like to experiment with this new tool that we built and see how it impacts the industry and how we can work together?’ It would have been incredible.” 


While it’s hard to imagine the tech-averse music industry of the early 2000s would’ve jumped at this opportunity, Kyncl described the YouTube’s effort as “the first time that a large platform at a massive scale that has new tools at its disposal is proactively reaching out to its [music] partners to test and learn.” “I just want to underscore the significance of this kind of engagement,” he added. (He used to work as chief business office at YouTube.)

For the benefit of analysts, Kyncl also outlined the company’s three-pronged approach to managing the rapid emergence of AI-powered technologies. First, he said it was important to pay attention to “generative AI engines,” ensuring that they are “licensing content for training” models, “keeping records of inputs so that provenance can be tracked,” and using a “watermarking” system so that outputs can be tracked.


The next area of focus for Warner: The platforms — Spotify, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and more — where, as Kyncl put it, “most of the content… will end up because people who are creating want views or streams.” To manage the proliferation of AI-generated music on these services, Kyncl hoped to build on the blueprint the music industry has developed around monitoring and monetizing user-generated content, especially on YouTube, and “write the fine print for the AI age.”

Last but certainly not least, Kyncl said he was meeting with both politicians and regulators “to make sure that regulation around AI respects the creative industries.” He suggested two key goals in this arena: That “licensing for training [AI models] is required,” and that “name, image, likeness, and voice is afforded the same protection as copyright.”

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