Tag Archives: music

Can anyone match Freddie Mercury’s legendary voice? Queen and YouTube Music are challenging fans to find out!


New Google built AI-powered singing challenge - FreddieMeter - rates how closely fans can mimic Freddie Mercury’s voice 

Take on the #FreddieChallenge now in support of the Mercury Phoenix Trust

Bohemian Rhapsody” is considered one of the greatest rock songs of all time, so it’s no wonder the music video recently hit 1 billion views on YouTube. For decades, fans have belted out the song’s iconic lyrics alongside Freddie Mercury’s one-of-a-kind vocals, but how many can really sing it just like Freddie? YouTube, Google Creative Lab, and Google Research, working in partnership with Queen, Universal Music Group and Hollywood Records, have built a new AI experiment called FreddieMeter to find out!


Released in support of Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity founded by Brian May, Roger Taylor and Jim Beach to raise awareness and funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS, and in honour of the 44th anniversary of the band’s first-ever live performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” at the Empire Theater, Liverpool, U.K in November 1975; FreddieMeter was created to let fans around the world determine how closely their singing matches the voice of Queen’s legendary frontman, Freddie Mercury.

FreddieMeter shows users how closely their voice matches Freddie Mercury’s legendary range by analyzing the singer’s pitch, timbre, and melody to assign them a score of 0 to 100. Queen fans, killer impressionists, and anyone who enjoys a little karaoke and are ready to step up to the challenge can get started by doing the following:

SING: Pick one of four QUEEN songs on the microsite (Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Now, Somebody to Love or We Are the Champions) and sing your heart out!
SHARE: Get your score and share! Download the custom scorecard asset directly to your device, then share it on YouTube and other social media.
CHALLENGE: Using the hashtag #FreddieChallenge on social channels, challenge three friends to see how they measure up.
DONATE: Encourage a charitable donation to Mercury Phoenix Trust in your post → http://www.mercuryphoenixtrust.com/donate

Google Creative Lab and Google Research created FreddieMeter using new on-device machine learning models, and it’s been trained on Freddie’s isolated vocals as well as samples of people trying to sing like Freddie. FreddieMeter is trained on and optimized for individual singers and works on desktop, Android and iPhone devices and the audio doesn’t get uploaded to any servers to be analyzed, so all vocals stay totally private unless shared by the user.

FreddieMeter continues YouTube’s celebration of Queen’s music and “Bohemian Rhapsody’s” 1 billion views milestone, which coincided with the release of a newly remastered HD version of the video. The achievement made history with the anthem being the first pre-1990s video to reach one billion views on the platform.

In partnership with Universal Music Group and Hollywood Records, YouTube also recently launched ‘You Are The Champions,’ a unique campaign that gave fans an exclusive chance to become a part of Queen history with a starring role in brand-new, user-generated videos for three of the band’s most celebrated tracks - “A Kind of Magic,” “Don’t Stop Me Now” and the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The results were pulled from more than 10,000 submissions from more than 120 countries around the world, showing the depth and love for Queen and Freddie amongst their loyal global fanbase.

To take on the #FreddieChallenge now or find out more about FreddieMeter, visit freddiemeter.withyoutube.com.

Verifying your Google Assistant media action integrations on Android

Posted by Nevin Mital, Partner Developer Relations

The Media Controller Test (MCT) app is a powerful tool that allows you to test the intricacies of media playback on Android, and it's just gotten even more useful. Media experiences including voice interactions via the Google Assistant on Android phones, cars, TVs, and headphones, are powered by Android MediaSession APIs. This tool will help you verify your integrations. We've now added a new verification testing framework that can be used to help automate your QA testing.

The MCT is meant to be used in conjunction with an app that implements media APIs, such as the Universal Android Music Player. The MCT surfaces information about the media app's MediaController, such as the PlaybackState and Metadata, and can be used to test inter-app media controls.

The Media Action Lifecycle can be complex to follow; even in a simple Play From Search request, there are many intermediate steps (simplified timeline depicted below) where something could go wrong. The MCT can be used to help highlight any inconsistencies in how your music app handles MediaController TransportControl requests.

Timeline of the interaction between the User, the Google Assistant, and the third party Android App for a Play From Search request.

Previously, using the MCT required a lot of manual interaction and monitoring. The new verification testing framework offers one-click tests that you can run to ensure that your media app responds correctly to a playback request.

Running a verification test

To access the new verification tests in the MCT, click the Test button next to your desired media app.

MCT Screenshot of launch screen; contains a list of installed media apps, with an option to go to either the Control or Test view for each.

The next screen shows you detailed information about the MediaController, for example the PlaybackState, Metadata, and Queue. There are two buttons on the toolbar in the top right: the button on the left toggles between parsable and formatted logs, and the button on the right refreshes this view to display the most current information.

MCT Screenshot of the left screen in the Testing view for UAMP; contains information about the Media Controller's Playback State, Metadata, Repeat Mode, Shuffle Mode, and Queue.

By swiping to the left, you arrive at the verification tests view, where you can see a scrollable list of defined tests, a text field to enter a query for tests that require one, and a section to display the results of the test.

MCT Screenshot of the right screen in the Testing view for UAMP; contains a list of tests, a query text field, and a results display section.

As an example, to run the Play From Search Test, you can enter a search query into the text field then hit the Run Test button. Looks like the test succeeded!

MCT Screenshot of the right screen in the Testing view for UAMP; the Play From Search test was run with the query 'Memories' and ended successfully.

Below are examples of the Pause Test (left) and Seek To test (right).

MCT Screenshot of the right screen in the Testing view for UAMP; a Pause test was run successfully. MCT Screenshot of the right screen in the Testing view for UAMP; a Seek To test was run successfully.

Android TV

The MCT now also works on Android TV! For your media app to work with the Android TV version of the MCT, your media app must have a MediaBrowserService implementation. Please see here for more details on how to do this.

On launching the MCT on Android TV, you will see a list of installed media apps. Note that an app will only appear in this list if it implements the MediaBrowserService.

Android TV MCT Screenshot of the launch screen; contains a list of installed media apps that implement the MediaBrowserService.

Selecting an app will take you to the testing screen, which will display a list of verification tests on the right.

Android TV MCT Screenshot of the testing screen; contains a list of tests on the right side.

Running a test will populate the left side of the screen with selected MediaController information. For more details, please check the MCT logs in Logcat.

Android TV MCT Screenshot of the testing screen; the Pause test was run successfully and the left side of the screen now displays selected MediaController information.

Tests that require a query are marked with a keyboard icon. Clicking on one of these tests will open an input field for the query. Upon hitting Enter, the test will run.

Android TV MCT Screenshot of the testing screen; clicking on the Seek To test opened an input field for the query.

To make text input easier, you can also use the ADB command:

adb shell input text [query]

Note that '%s' will add a space between words. For example, the command adb shell input text hello%sworld will add the text "hello world" to the input field.

What's next

The MCT currently includes simple single-media-action tests for the following requests:

  • Play
  • Play From Search
  • Play From Media ID
  • Play From URI
  • Pause
  • Stop
  • Skip To Next
  • Skip To Previous
  • Skip To Queue Item
  • Seek To

For a technical deep dive on how the tests are structured and how to add more tests, visit the MCT GitHub Wiki. We'd love for you to submit pull requests with more tests that you think are useful to have and for any bug fixes. Please make sure to review the contributions process for more information.

Check out the latest updates on GitHub!

Five observations from my time at YouTube

Earlier this year, I was asked by Google (because they know I am pre "Sucker M.C.") to work on a Doodle celebrating the 44th anniversary of the music that changed my life. The birth of hip-hop was a fusion of expression and technical innovation that forever changed our culture and Google wanted to celebrate the moment when it all came together.

I had one condition on participating: that the project be authentic and not some tech company’s interpretation of a cultural revolution. They couldn't agree more and the collaboration led to an amazing interactive experience that used technology and Google’s reach to celebrate the birth of hip-hop. It showed me that Google and YouTube know how to listen to feedback (in this case, mine), and are willing to work hard to get things right.

I joined Google and YouTube because I saw a great opportunity to bring tech and music together and do right by artists, the industry and fans. Eight months in, I’m more optimistic than ever that YouTube can do that, but the truth is there’s still a disconnect between YouTube and the rest of the industry.

So, how did YouTube get here? What explains the current state of YouTube’s relationship with the industry? I think there are five factors that explain the current situation.

  1. Late to the party. I get why some in the music industry would be skeptical of their relationship with YouTube. They were late to the subscriptions party and YouTube’s focus for many years was largely just on ads. While they have been at subscriptions for a year, and the numbers are very encouraging, YouTube must prove its credibility when it comes to its ability to shepherd their funnel of users into paid subscriptions.

    But since I’ve been here, I’ve been incredibly encouraged by what I’ve seen. The team is serious about subscriptions. And now with YouTube Music and Google Play Music merging, I’m confident they will build an even better subscription service. And with more deals like the one YouTube recently signed with Warner, they’re going to be able to take it global.
  2. Twin-engine growth. The success of streaming subscriptions is one reason why I’m so optimistic about the future. Subscription revenue is still in its infancy, yet it’s already reaping billions for the music industry. It’s not just some business model on a whiteboard; it’s a real and rapidly growing source of cash for labels and artists today.

    Some think ads are the death of the music industry. Ads are not death. Death is death. Irrelevance is death. Fans not being exposed to new music is death. My time at YouTube has me convinced that advertising is another powerful source of growth for the industry. YouTube’s ads hustle has already brought over a billion dollars in 12 months to the industry and it’s growing rapidly. Combined with YouTube’s growing subscription service, they’ve now got two engines taking the industry to a more lucrative place than it’s ever been before.

    But that all depends on whether or not the industry chokes off these new sources of growth. I’m old enough to remember what the industry was saying about iTunes and Spotify before they started contributing billions to its bottom line. The growth that the industry is seeing today proves that ads and subscription thrive side by side.
  3. Let’s talk dead presidents. It is important that labels, publishers and YouTube come together to make transparency a reality, as I strongly believe it will help everyone in the industry move the business forward.

    Artists and songwriters need to truly understand what they’re making on different platforms. It’s not enough for YouTube to say that it’s paid over $1 billion to the industry from ads. We (the labels, publishers and YouTube) must shine a light on artist royalties, show them how much they make from ads compared to subscriptions by geography and see how high their revenue is in the U.S. and compared to other services.

    For instance, critics complain YouTube isn’t paying enough money for ad-supported streams compared to Spotify or Pandora. I was one of them! Then I got here and looked at the numbers myself. At over $3 per thousand streams in the U.S., YouTube is paying out more than other ad supported services.

    Why doesn’t anyone know that? Because YouTube is global and the numbers get diluted by lower contributions in developing markets. But they’re working the ads hustle like crazy so payouts can ramp up quickly all around the world. If they can do that, this industry could double in the next few years.
  4. Fortune AND fame. Every day for the last 30 years, I’ve woken up with the same thought: maybe today’s the day I’m going to meet an artist that’s going to change pop culture. I love watching when an artist goes from obscurity to celebrity. That’s my drug.

    Every artist I’ve ever worked with wanted some fame and fortune. YouTube will deliver fortune … but I think they need to be just as focused on bringing the fame. YouTube is already a great force for breaking new artists; in fact, the majority of music watchtime on YouTube is coming from its recommendations, rather than people searching for what they want to listen to. But YouTube needs to find new ways to promote and break artists and their albums so they have a chance to shine on the platform and connect with their fans. This is one of my biggest priorities and you’ll see more coming soon.
  5. Without safe harbor, we’d all be lost at sea. I’ve spent my professional life fighting for artists to get what they deserve. I’ve worked with the RIAA and the IFPI to fight piracy since back when the main concern was bootlegged tapes. Safe harbor has become an obsession -- with many complaining it’s the cause of all of industry’s woes. I’m not parroting the company line when I say the focus on copyright safe harbors is a distraction. Safe harbor helps open platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Soundcloud and Instagram give a voice to millions of artists around the world, making the industry more competitive and vibrant.

    Every artist should be concerned if their music shows up online without credit or payment. But YouTube’s team has built a system in Content ID that helps rightsholders earn money no matter who uploads their music. As of 2016, 99.5 percent of music claims on YouTube are matched automatically by Content ID and are either removed or monetized.

    Before Content ID, when a fan shared a song with a friend through a mix tape, it was called piracy. Now it's generated over $2 billion for content owners and goes far beyond what the safe harbor provision requires.

One of the first jobs I ever had in the music business was working as a road manager for Run DMC. Doing that taught me a lesson that has formed the core of what I’ve tried to do my entire career: set things up well so that the artists and fans can come together and make magic happen. I’ve spent my entire life helping artists achieve fame and fortune. I wouldn’t have joined YouTube if I didn’t believe the company was committed to delivering more revenue to artists, labels, publishers and composers -- they just have to set them up well and get out of their way.

With love and respect,

Lyor Cohen

Lyor recently watched “Brothers Gonna Work It Out

Source: YouTube Blog


A billion reasons to celebrate music on YouTube

Last year was a bright one for music—after several tough years of declining revenues, the industry started growing again, spurred in large part by the growth of music streaming subscriptions. This year, the industry has even more reasons to be optimistic. Even as music subscriptions have been growing faster than any other subscription type, advertising is another powerful driver of revenue. In fact, in the last 12 months, YouTube has paid out over $1 billion to the music industry from advertising alone, demonstrating that multiple experiences and models are succeeding alongside each other.

And this is just the beginning. As more advertising dollars shift from TV, radio and print to online services, the music industry will generate even more revenue from ads. In the future, the music business has an opportunity to look a lot like television, where subscriptions and advertising contribute roughly equal amounts of revenue, bolstered by digital and physical sales. To achieve this, there is a lot of work that must be done by YouTube and the industry as a whole, but we are excited to see the momentum.

At a time when there’s never been more competition for attention, fans can’t get enough good music. It is clear that this creative industry has two strong engines of growth -- subscriptions and advertising -- and we are honored to be a part of it.

Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer, recently watched "The Hamilton Mixtape Performance Live Stream."

Source: YouTube Blog


Introducing Chrome Music Lab



(Cross-posted on the Chrome Blog.)

This year, for Music in Our Schools Month, we wanted to help make learning about music a bit more accessible to everyone by using technology that’s open to everyone: the web. We built a set of experiments that let anyone explore how music works. It’s called Chrome Music Lab, and you can check it out at g.co/musiclab.

You can play with sound, rhythm, melody, and more. Chrome Music Lab is all built for the web, so you can start playing instantly, whether you’re on a tablet, phone, or laptop. Just like today’s Clara Rockmore doodle, the experiments are all built with the Web Audio API, a freely-accessible, open web standard that lets developers create and manipulate sound right in the browser. We’re also providing open-source code so that others can build new experiments based on what we’ve started.

Exploring music can help spark curiosity in all kinds of ways. We hope these experiments inspire you – whether they give you a new perspective on music, make you more curious about math and science, or even make you think of new ways to teach or code.

So crank up the volume and start playing at g.co/musiclab.

Tributes and Trends: the 58th Annual Grammy Awards through the lens of Search

As millions of people tuned in to watch the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, many Canadians also turned to the web to keep up with the action. Here's a look at the Grammy nominees and moments that captured Canada’s imagination and brought people to Google Search.

Artists in the spotlight
This year’s most searched performance was Broadway musical Hamilton, as Canadians turned online during the cast’s live performance to learn more about the show, the cast and tickets. In fact, searches for Hamilton tickets increased 9X following the performance and 50X following their win for Best Musical Theatre Album.

Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood’s duet early in the evening was a search favourite, while the Eagles’ tribute to Glenn Frey was also at the front of the search pack. Canadians went to Google to learn more about the band following their performance, many asking “Who are the Eagles?

Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie was also a top-searched performance, with Gaga roaring through nine of Bowie’s best-known songs in six minutes. During the performance, Canadians searched for the lyrics to many of the favourite hits being performed on stage, but searches were highest for ‘Heroes.’

Here's a look at the nominees and moments that captured Canada’s imagination and brought people to Google Search.
Performances.png
The most searched red carpet looks
The red carpet is many people's favorite part of the show. While no Grammy is awarded for "best dressed," we wanted to know which looks caught Canadians attention this year. The results are in and the most searched styles, in the hour after the red carpet show were:
Red Carpet.png
Trending questions and artists we’re curious about
Canadians also turned to Google to ask questions throughout the Grammy Awards. One of the night’s biggest moments came from an artist that wasn’t even present -- searches for ‘where is Rihanna?’ were trending in Canada, after RiRi dropped out of performing and attending over the weekend. We also saw searches for “Who is…” spike in the Best New Artist category, particularly for country musician Sam Hunt and Tori Kelly, the 23-year-old California pop singer who her start on YouTube.
Grammy Qs.png
Search Predictions
Before the ceremony started, we shared our “picks”- who would win if the Grammys were determined by search volume in Canada alone. Out of our three Google Search Picks, all three actually won!
Best New Artist (1).png
Record of the Year (5).png
NEW .png

This year's searches during the 58th Annual Grammy Awards and Red Carpet reveal the artists, albums and performances that Canadians love and those we turned online to learn more about. Afterall, Google's users are intrinsically curious. Why else would you search?

Happy searching!


Posted by Jenn Kaiser, Communications Manager, Google Canada

Reaching consumers through the music they love: introducing ads on Google Play Music

Cross posted on Inside AdWords Blog

With over 30 million songs, Google Play Music provides access to the music people want. And today, we’re launching a free, ad-supported version so even more people can enjoy music that makes whatever they’re doing better.

At any moment in the day, Google Play Music has music for what people are doing – whether they’re working, working out, or working it on the dance floor – offering curated radio stations that deliver the right song at the right time. Our team of music experts, including the folks who created Songza, crafts each station song by song so listeners can just enjoy the music, effortlessly.

This new ad-supported version is great for advertisers interested in connecting with consumers through premium content and delightful mobile experiences. This Google Play Ads inventory is available through DoubleClick Bid Manager and the Google Display Network (GDN), which gives advertisers access to engaging and beautiful ad units such as TrueView video ads and Lightbox ads – all mobile-optimized, seamless across screens, and simple to set up. Plus, advertisers can take advantage of all GDN’s targeting options to promote their product or service to the right people – including keywords, affinity audiences, remarketing and demo targeting.

Many advertisers are already investing in this new music inventory, including the media agency Omnicom. Steve Katelman, EVP of Global Strategic Partnerships at Omnicom shared that: “We want to reach customers where they're spending the most time, so music is a critical part of our media mix. As a launch partner for Google Play Music, Omnicom Media Group can offer our clients an invaluable head start in delivering engaging, high-impact brand messages on mobile and the web to music-loving consumers.”

To get started with ads on Google Play Music, set up your campaign in AdWords or Doubleclick Bid Manager today.

Posted by Elias Roman, Product Manager, Google Play Music

Get More Into Music: All year long







Summer’s ended, but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the music that’s carried us along the way. Today, we’ve got a new doodle on our homepage, and a special collection of videos on youtube.com/music.

With over 60 hours of videos uploaded to YouTube every minute, there’s plenty to help you get into whatever you’re into. Back in December, we thought we’d get more into music, and invited some of our favourite musicians to guide us along the way by creating video playlists showcasing their own musical tastes.

We started in our own backyard with the Australian musicians that would take the stage at the 25th anniversary ARIA awards: Art vs. Science got into the strange & eclectic, Bluejuice found us some hidden gems and we learned what 80s anthems get The Living End Going.

And we followed some of our favourite acts around Australia this summer festival season: From the pumped up kicks, and modern-day lullabies that brought sold out crowds across Australia for Big Day Out, to big-time dream-pop to big-haired rock & roll hanging out at St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival in Sydney.

Today, we hope you’ll enjoy revisiting some of the playlists from these musicians as much as we have.  It’s easy to create your own playlists too – just log in to your YouTube account, and hit ‘add to playlist’ from any video on YouTube.

But that’s not all. You’ll notice we’re also featuring a handful of videos from some of the biggest names heading to this year’s Splendour In The Grass, including a special interview with Ladyhawke and with Kele from Bloc Party Tickets have just gone on sale but even if you can’t make it, never fear. For the second year in a row we’ll be live streaming a special collection of performances live from Byron Bay, courtesy of Virgin Mobile.

We’ll be announcing the live lineup soon. For now we hope you find plenty of music to keep you busy!

Posted by Ernesto Soriano, YouTube Australia, just watched SBTRKT Wildfire, Live from Coachella