Universal Music Group and AI sound wellness company Endel have entered into a ‘first of its kind’ strategic relationship to enable artists and labels to create soundscapes for daily activities like sleep, relaxation, and focus by harnessing the power of AI.
The two companies will use Endel’s proprietary AI technology to enable UMG artists to create science-backed soundscapes, designed to enhance listeners’ wellness, including both new music and new versions of catalogue music. Both parties said the partnership will ‘always respect creators’ rights and put artists at the centre of the creative process’.
In the coming months, UMG will announce the first wave of soundscapes under the new agreement. Endel had previously worked with Republic Records’ artist James Blake, whose acclaimed ambient Wind Downsoundscape was released as an album in May 2022.
In making the announcement, Michael Nash, Universal Music Group’s EVP, chief digital officer said: “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. 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.”
“Endel has been artist- and human-focused from day one. Our goal was always to help people focus, relax, and sleep with the power of sound. AI is the perfect tool for this. Today, seeing our technology being applied to turn your favorite music into functional soundscapes is a dream come true. We’re extremely excited to put Endel AI to work and help UMG build new and exciting offerings to promote wellness and banish the perceived threat around AI,” said Oleg Stavitsky, Endel’s CEO.
Endel’s soundscapes are designed to enhance sleep, focus, and other daily activities. Past collaborations include James Blake, Miguel and Grimes, among many others.
Endel uses artist-provided stems to create soundscapes driven by scientific insights into how music affects our mind-state. When crafting static albums, artists and their teams have the final sign off on the results they prefer. These soundscapes are intended to provide artists and rights holders new opportunities to generate additional revenue for their catalogues, while expanding and enhancing their work into new areas and moments in fans’ lives, while aspiring to support wellness for the listener.
Functional music is designed to enhance and optimize daily routines, such as reading, running or sleeping. Extensive research has shown the impact of music on mental health and wellness, including focus, athletic performance and sleep hygiene and quality. Along with other types of audio, functional music represents one of the largest sub-categories of music listening worldwide, encompassing around 15 billion streams a month across all music platforms. While this category has been plagued with sub-par offerings, artists are now able to embrace functional music insights to further expand and reimagine their work utilizing AI technology that has been created ethically to enhance, rather than exploit copyrighted works to create derivative generative soundscapes.
“It’s extremely exciting to see UMG embracing artist-driven AI. Endel allows music companies like UMG to draw on the astounding capabilities of AI and functional music while respecting their artists’ rights,” said Stavitsky. “In that way, Endel acts more as a collaborator than a tool, giving artists control and freedom while satisfying a real market need for more music that can support their wellbeing.”