Connect with us


Google’s ‘Music AI Sandbox’ Lets Artists Create With AI — But Is It Ready for Primetime?

The tool, developed with YouTube and DeepMind, shows promise but raises questions around licensing and impact.

MBN Staff



Credit: Google / YouTube
3 min read

Story Highlights

  • Google’s new Music AI Sandbox tool lets artists create tracks using AI-generated audio clips, but raises questions about licensing and potential industry impact.

Google has stepped up its game in the world of AI music generation with the unveiling of Music AI Sandbox — a new suite of tools designed to help artists create tracks in “unprecedented ways.” Developed in partnership with YouTube and Google’s DeepMind division, Music AI Sandbox uses natural language prompts to generate short audio clips that can be integrated into larger compositions.

To showcase the potential of this technology, Google tapped artists Wyclef Jean, Justin Tranter, and Marc Rebillet to take Music AI Sandbox for a spin. 

And based on the results shared in a promo video, all artists involved seemed impressed by the tool’s ability to quickly translate their ideas into music.

Wyclef Jean even went as far as comparing the experience to “digging in the infinite crate” of music samples — a nod to the time-honored tradition of crate-digging that producers have long relied on to find unique sounds. Jean suggests that with Music AI Sandbox, the possibilities are “endless.” 


The tool itself seems fairly intuitive, based on what we can glean from Google’s demo.  Artists input text descriptions of the music they want to create, with the ability to specify unwanted sounds and optional lyrics. Music AI Sandbox then spits out audio clips that can be dropped into a larger project using a familiar waveform editor interface.

Google’s messaging around Music AI Sandbox is carefully crafted, emphasizing its role as a tool to enhance rather than replace human creativity. This aligns with the music industry’s cautiously optimistic stance on AI’s potential to assist, not displace, music creators. 

Advocating for the use of AI in music, songwriter Justin Tranter stated “because AI will let me speak the language I speak as a songwriter, that is very exciting to me”. 

Google's 2024 I/O Conference

But even with these assurances, there are still some lingering questions about how Music AI Sandbox was developed and what its wider rollout could mean for the industry.

Earlier this year, Billboard reported that Google had trained its music AI on copyrighted works without permission — raising serious concerns about the use of artists’ music without consent or compensation.

Google hasn’t directly addressed this issue in its Music AI Sandbox announcement. The company has an existing partnership with Universal Music Group (UMG) around AI music generation, as reported. But the specifics of UMG’s involvement, and its stance on the licensing issues at play, remain unclear.

There’s also the question of what a more widespread deployment of Music AI Sandbox might mean for certain corners of the industry. If this tool were put in the hands of every YouTuber looking for free background music, for example, it could put a dent in the licensing revenue of commercial tracks on the platform.

For now, it seems Music AI Sandbox is only available to a select group of artists as Google continues to refine the technology. But as the company eyes a wider rollout down the line, the music world will undoubtedly be watching closely — and asking tough questions — to ensure this new frontier of AI music creation is being approached in a way that’s fair and equitable for artists.

One thing’s for sure: with the scale and influence of a company like Google behind it, Music AI Sandbox is well-positioned to make a real impact, though this is yet be determined. Interestingly, the end of the video read “AI music experiments” — hinting that this could be a temporary project by Google depending on its reception within the music industry.


With that said, combined with Google’s other AI announcements (like the Veo video generation tool and the integration of its Gemini AI into search), it’s clear that the tech giant is betting big on artificial intelligence as the next major disruptor for both creators and consumers alike.

However, navigating this new landscape will require an ongoing, good-faith dialogue between innovators like Google and the stakeholders across the music industry who stand to be affected by these seismic shifts. Because while the “infinite crate” of AI-generated music is an exciting prospect, there is also a need to make sure the voices of creators remain at the core of these developments.

Get weekly music biz updates straight to your inbox.


Canada Slashes Kendrick Lamar’s Radio Play By 25%, While Drake Sees a 10% Decline In The U.S.

MBN Exclusive: New Soundcharts Data Shows The Cogs Working Behind Rap’s Hottest War.




3 min read

Story Highlights

  • New data provides unprecedented insight into the underlying methodology of the Drake-Kendrick feud crucial to understanding the broader battle for hip-hop supremacy.

Few rivalries in the high-stakes world of hip hop superstardom have captured the cultural zeitgeist as completely as the recent feud between ‘Rap Gods’ Drake and Kendrick Lamar. Being two of the genre’s OGs, their every move sent reverberations through the music industry and beyond. A lot of the conversation around the ‘slugfest’ revolved around the surface-level spectacle of the diss tracks and opinions among fans, but the real narrative that shapes this feud is the one presented in the data (the streaming numbers, radio spins and listener trends that provide an insight into the way the two superstars’ strategies prior to the ‘war of words’ helped them to navigate this war behind the scenes.


A Geographic Dividend

As we previously reported at Music Biz Nation, data from Luminate – a premier music analytics company – showed an slight difference in how Drake and Kendrick diss tracks were being consumed regionally versus internationally in comparison to their overall catalogs. In Kendrick’s case, American listeners were responsible for 62.2% of streams on his Drake diss tracks, 11.5% above his typical 50.7% U.S. share. Meanwhile, Drake saw only a small boost in U.S. streams for his Kendrick disses, bumping from 58.9% to 60.1% – with the remainder coming from international markets.

Getting more specific, Kendrick’s top listenership on Spotify stems from Los Angeles (also his top radio market), London and Chicago (all seeing a 2-3% monthly increase in the past month). Drake still comfortably maintained an 82.5 million to Kendrick’s 78 million in Spotify monthly listeners over the past 28 days, with his top markets on the platform being London, Los Angeles, and New York. Notably, Drake saw a 1-2% dip in listenership in all three of his top markets, while Kendrick gained ground in each of them.

The Streaming Showdown: Loyalty vs. Virality

In the wake of Kendrick’s numerous diss tracks, including the most popular of them all “Not Like Us,” (amassing 280 million streams and 2,000+ playlist placements on Spotify alone) his monthly Spotify listener count surged by an impressive 27 million. Drake, meanwhile, saw a comparatively modest dip of 1.5 million monthly listeners since the start of the feud, with his most popular Kendrick-diss “Family Matters” totaling a mere 66 million Spotify streams and 700 playlists on the platform. On the surface, this might suggest a clear win for Kendrick. However, a deeper dive into listener retention rates tells a more complex story.

Drake’s retention rate actually increased from 105% to 109% during this period, indicating that his core fanbase remains remarkably steadfast in their loyalty, even in the face of Kendrick’s onslaught. Additionally, Drake’s monthly listener count on Spotify, even after a 1.5 million dip, still towers over Kendrick’s but only slightly at 82.5 million to 78 million – a much closer gap than before the ‘war’.

Kendrick, on the other hand, saw his retention rate plummet from 43% to 38%, suggesting that many of his newly-gained listeners may be more curious onlookers than devoted fans. 

This data paints a picture of two contrasting strategies – one focused on cultivating deep, lasting loyalty, the other on generating viral moments and sparking widespread curiosity. While Kendrick’s approach may be winning the battle for short-term attention, Drake’s strategy could prove more effective in the long-term war for enduring dominance. 

Kendrick’s cultural references in his diss tracks is likely what ignited and engaged more of his U.S. audience. Meanwhile, the strength of his overall catalog has allowed Drake to rely on his status as a global superstar, betting on the continued reliability of his massive global audience to absorb any blowback.


Radio Waves Shift: Kendrick's Domestic Surge

Soundcharts data also point to a change in radio play dynamics over the last month. While Drake’s radio spins dipped slightly in the U.S. (-9%) and U.K. (-6%) – two of his top markets – Kendrick Lamar has seen an 80% increase in U.S. radio play in the wake of feud. Lamar’s increased radio play in the U.S. was, unsurprisingly, driven by airplay of “Not Like Us” in the Los Angeles area (his home county) on stations such as Power106 and KRRL-FM Real 92.3 (responsible for Kendrick’s highest number of global radio plays over the last month). 

Most tellingly, but somewhat expected, the LA-based Real 92.3, the station that has been Kendrick’s staunchest cheerleader, cut Drake’s airplay by a staggering 30% during the month of May. 

This domestic dominant radio surge for Kendrick, coupled with the increase in U.S. streaming share for his diss tracks might speak to the effectiveness of his regionally-focused strategy in comparison to Drake’s. And with the U.S. being the biggest market for the Hip Hop genre, it is not difficult to see why a strategy like this has created such an impact in his battle with the Toronto-based rapper.

In Drake’s case, despite facing slight challenges in the U.S. radio market during the feud, the ‘6 God’ has managed to maintain his global radio dominance by making up ground key local and international markets in regions such as France (up 12%) and his home country of Canada (up 8%), where Kendrick has seen a 25% decline in airplay. 

In saying that, like Drake, Kendrick has also compensated by making significant progress in other international radio markets over the past month – such as Nigeria (+104% in spins) and portions of Europe (U.K. +40%, Belgium +27%, Germany +26%, ).

Kendrick's Viral Breakthrough: The TikTok Wildcard

Where Drake may be ahead in terms of the raw numbers of streams and spins of his overall catalog, when it comes to the virality of this feud, Kendrick has taken the crown by more than a mile.

In just one month after its release, “Not Like Us” was the soundtrack for 560,000+ TikTok videos and 1.4 billion views, quickly becoming his third most popular song on the platform as lead artist (surpassing “We Cry Together”, from his most recent album ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’). The uptick is arguably a testament to Kendrick’s ‘hidden’ ability to create a moment that lands with TikTok’s wide audience often moved by the winds of popularity – something Drake was more known for excelling at prior to the feud. Drizzy’s most popular TikTok song “Tootsie Slide” has amassed 2.8 million videos and 8.2 billion views, compared to Kendrick’s 1.1 million videos and 1.3 billion videos for his most popular TikTok song “HUMBLE”. Notably, “Not Like Us” has accumulated more TikTok views than “HUMBLE.” with half the number of videos, speaking to its undeniable cultural impact.

Drake’s most popular song in the ‘back and forth’ with Lamar, “Family Matters”, stands at just 1,800 TikTok videos and 7.5 million views.


In an era where a single viral moment can redefine an artist’s trajectory, Kendrick’s overwhelming TikTok triumph in this feud could be an extremely powerful weapon in his arsenal. If he can sustain this momentum and translate the buzz into lasting listener growth and engagement, it could dramatically redefine of his overall positioning. Should the feud continue in any way, this is a wildcard that Drake (despite his overall dominance) cannot afford to ignore.

Looking Ahead...

With all that said, one thing is clear: the Drake-Kendrick beef was much more than a rap beef. As the reams of data show, it’s a rich, multifaceted playbook for how different strategies can determine equally impactful yet completely different outcomes. Every artist has their own unique arsenal of strengths and strategies — Drake’s unbreakable global grip and resistance to wobble in the storm, Kendrick’s gift for the viral moment and local relevance — which we’ll continue to watch with his future releases.

Get weekly music biz updates straight to your inbox.

Continue Reading


Sony Reportedly in Talks for $1 Billion Queen Catalog Acquisition

Source says discussions between Queen and Sony Music over the British band’s catalog sale have been ongoing since last year.

MBN Staff



3 min read

Story Highlights

  • Sony’s potential deal for Queen’s music assets could make it the biggest single-artist catalog acquisition in history.

According to multiple outlets, sources report that iconic British rock band Queen has been seeking a valuation of around $1.2 billion for its music assets, which consist of both publishing and master recording rights jointly owned by the band’s surviving members Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, as well as the Freddie Mercury estate. Bloomberg first reported that Sony Music is the undisclosed suitor currently in an exclusive negotiating window with Queen, working with an unnamed financial partner.


Music Business Worldwide originally broke news of the catalog being shopped for a 9-figure sum in May 2023, noting that major labels like Universal Music Group and private equity players had engaged in discussions. 

Of course, putting together a deal of this magnitude and complexity, especially with multiple stakeholders involved, comes with no guarantee of closer. As a cautionary example, sources say Pink Floyd’s attempt to sell their catalog for $500 million collapsed in 2022 due to band members having differing priorities.

Inside Queen's Financial Performance

Music Business Worldwide also reported that Queen Productions Ltd, the UK entity housing the band’s recordings, reported £40.89 million ($50.41m) in turnover for the fiscal year ending September 2022, a 4.3% increase over 2021. Profit before taxes jumped 31.6% to £22.16 million ($27.41m).



Much of this growth likely stems from the popularity boost following the band’s 2018 biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. In fact, the FY2022 revenue figure more than tripled Queen’s £12.34 million turnover ($16.72m) in FY2016 before the film’s release. The band’s enduring appeal is further evidenced by the nearly 38 million album consumption units and 46 billion on-demand global streams their catalog has amassed since 1991, according to Luminate and reported by Billboard.


Queen | Credit: Getty Images

Implications of a Billion-Dollar Sale

If completed in the $1 billion range as reported, Queen’s sale would handily surpass Bruce Springsteen’s $500 million+ catalog deal with Sony in 2021 to become the biggest transaction for a single artist’s body of work. It would also dwarf the $600 million Sony allegedly paid in February for 50% of Michael Jackson’s catalog. Though, technically speaking, with only the remaining 50% sold, the deal with the Jackson estate valued the late King of Pop’s catalog at $1.2 billion – slightly above than the reported $1 billion offer of Queen’s work, if that number is exact.

However, Queen’s situation is a little more complicated due to Disney Music Group’s current rights to their master recordings in North America under the Hollywood Records umbrella. Any acquirer would need to navigate that structure and DMG’s global distribution pact with Universal.

The stratospheric valuations attached to evergreen hit songs have enticed artists to cash in on their life’s work, accepting a one-time capital gains tax rather than annual income taxes on royalties. But as the Hipgnosis Songs Fund has demonstrated, aggregating catalogs at premium prices fueled by cheap debt doesn’t automatically translate into strong returns. Blackstone’s takeover of Hipgnosis following a shareholder revolt underscores the potential risks of catalog acquisition sprees.

Queen, though, stands apart as one of the most commercially successful acts in history, notching six No. 1 singles and 10 No. 1 albums in the UK across five decades. With the right promotion and synch opportunities, dozens of their songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” and “Another One Bites the Dust” have the potential to generate substantial returns for decades to come. But at a $1 billion entry price, Sony or any other buyer will need to be confident they can unlock significantly more value to make the numbers work.

Get weekly music biz updates straight to your inbox.

Continue Reading