Apple Music is using AI to make karaoke tracks

Apple Music Sing, rolled out with the latest OS update, has a suite of features to turn favorite songs into sing-alongs.
Sign up for the Freethink Weekly newsletter!
A collection of our favorite stories straight to your inbox

Apple has added a karaoke feature to Apple Music, rolled out in time for serenading on the most important holiday of the year — I’m talking, of course, about Valentine’s Day.

Included in the iOS 16.2 update, Apple Music Sing allows users to independently adjust the volume of the vocals on a track, including fading them away enough to essentially turn them into karaoke backing tracks. The Music app’s enhanced lyric presentation then allows users to sing along (to the best of their abilities).

“We already know our users all over the world love to follow along to their favorite songs, so we wanted to evolve this offering even further to enable even more engagement around music through singing,” Oliver Schusser, vice president of Apple Music and Beats, said.

Apple didn’t comb through all the millions of songs in its library and adjust them one by one, though — Sing leverages machine learning AI, which isolates the vocal tracks in real time and then allows users to independently control the volume. 

Apple didn’t adjust millions of songs in its library one by one — Sing leverages machine learning AI which isolates the vocal tracks in real time and then allows users to independently control the volume. 

The tech is based off of previous work for Apple’s noise canceling and FaceTime applications, TechCrunch reported. And while the vocals get low like they’re wearing boots with the fur, the words aren’t removed fully.

The lyrics function — already “consistently one of the most popular features” of Apple Music, per Schusser — also received an upgrade. 

Real-time lyrics will now move in time to the song, animating every syllable and including visual cues for when artists are holding a note, per TechCrunch. Lyrics will separate and animate backing vocals for easier following along, while a “duet view” splits combined vocals to different sides of the screen.

Android users will get these lyric enhancements, but no slider; currently, the whole kit and kaboodle is limited to compatible iPhones and iPads, as well as Apple TV 4K.

Not every song currently has the Sing feature, which is enabled by using the slider from the lyrics mode. Currently, the feature works with the services’ most popular songs, and 50 playlists have been released with cuts ready to go, including staples like Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”,  newer tracks from acts like Olivia Rodriguo and Gunna, and Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” which Freethink used as a demo.

Apple is second to the karaoke game behind Spotify, which launched theirs in June. But, as Engadget noted, the two services seem to be taking different tacks; Spotify’s records and rates performances, turning them into a game, while Apple Music Sing seems more oriented to karaoke’s party-time roots. 

We’d love to hear from you! If you have a comment about this article or if you have a tip for a future Freethink story, please email us at [email protected].

New AI music generator makes songs from text prompts
AI music generators — AIs that create new music based on users’ text prompts — are lowering the bar for music creation, for better or worse.
How music therapy benefits the autistic brain
While the benefits of music therapy are well known, more in-depth research explores how music benefits children with autism.
What is brown noise? Can this latest TikTok trend really help you sleep?
Brown noise, the better-known white noise, and even pink noise are all sonic hues. But do any of them actually work?
A Pink Floyd song was reconstructed from listeners’ brain waves
Training an AI to reconstruct a song from listeners’ brain activity revealed insights about the brain that could lead to better speech BCIs.
AI predicts hit songs based on listeners’ heartbeats
A new AI predicts hit songs with 97% accuracy based on how a person’s heart beats while listening to the track.
Up Next
Kendrick Lamar deepfake music video
Subscribe to Freethink for more great stories