Microsoft Copilot’s new AI tool will turn your simple prompts into songs

Thanks to a newfound partnership with music creation platform Suno, Microsoft Copilot can now generate short-form songs with a single text prompt.

The content it creates not only consists of instrumentals but also fleshed-out lyrics and actual singing voices. Microsoft states in the announcement that you don’t need to have any pre-existing music-making skills. All you need is an idea in your head. If any of this sounds familiar to you, that’s because both Meta and Google have their versions of this technology in the form of MusicGen and Instrument Playground, respectively. These two function similarly too, although they run on a proprietary AI model instead of something third-party.

How to use the Suno plugin

To use this feature, you’ll have to first launch Microsoft Edge, as the update is exclusive to the browser, then head on over to the Copilot website, sign in, and click the Plugin tab in the top right corner. Make sure that Suno is currently active. 

Suno plugin

(Image credit: Future)

Once everything is in place, enter a text prompt into Copilot and give it enough time to finish. It does take a little while for the AI to create something according to the prompt. In our experience, it took Copilot about ten minutes to make lyrics to a pop song about having an adventure with your family. Strangely, we didn’t receive any audio.

Copilot told us it made a link to Suno’s official website where we could listen to the track, but the URL disappeared the moment it was finished. We then prompted the AI to generate another song, however it only wrote the lyrics. When asked where the audio was, Copilot told us to imagine the melody in our heads or to sing the words out loud.

This is the first time we’ve had a music-generative AI flat-out refuse to produce audio.

Microsoft Copilot refusing to generate

(Image credit: Future)

Good performance… when it works

From here, we went to Suno’s website to get an idea of what the tech can do. The audio genuinely sounded great in our experience. The vocal performances were surprisingly good although not amazing. It’s not total gibberish like with Google’s Instrument Playground, but they’re not super clear either. 

We couldn't find out how good Copilot’s music-making skills are, but if it’s anything like the base Suno model, the content it can create will outshine anything that MusicGen or Instrument Playground can churn out.

Rollout of the Suno plugin has already begun and will continue over the coming weeks. No word if Microsoft has plans to expand the feature to other browsers although we did reach out to ask if this is in the works and if Microsoft is going to address the issues we encountered. We would’ve loved to hear the music. This story will be updated at a later time.

In the meantime, check out TechRadar's list of the best free music-making software in 2023.

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YouTube update will let you search for songs by singing them into your phone

YouTube is releasing a sizable update giving users new ways to search for and manage their content on the platform.

Chief among these changes is the official launch of the search by song tool where you can look up a song just by humming, singing, or playing a tune directly into YouTube. It functions similarly to Shazam where you can point the app on a phone towards a song’s source so it can record it. YouTube's version uses AI tech “to match the [input] to the original recording”. This was first seen back in August when it was still in beta and it appears the final version works in the exact same way. 

You first activate Voice Search on YouTube, then you switch over to the Song recorder where you will proceed to “play, sing, or hum” the tune for about three seconds into your phone’s microphone. From there, “relevant official music content” will show up on the screen. 

Search by song will be exclusive to Android phones “for now” and will begin rolling out “in the next few weeks”. No word on when it’ll arrive on iOS, although we did ask.

Extra controls

The rest of the update is less restrictive as the other features will be more generally available. A lot is being added, so we’re just going to go over the more notable changes like the introduction of the You tab. 

According to the company, this new section combines a user’s account page with their Library tab to create a one-stop shop where people can configure profile settings, find downloads, and previously watched videos. It saves you the hassle of having to hop back and forth between sections.

YouTube's new You Tab

(Image credit: YouTube)

The YouTube player is receiving extra controls too. On mobile, a “Stable Volume” toggle switch is being added to “reduce jarring differences in volume”. This can be pretty helpful for content with bad audio mixing. Next is the lock screen which does exactly as the name suggests – locks a smartphone’s or tablet’s display “to prevent unwanted interruptions.”

Finally, pressing and holding down on the YouTube player instantly bumps the “playback speed to 2x”. Press to 2x, as the feature is called, will be made available on web, mobile devices, and tablets.

Everything you see will be rolling out “gradually to [users] around the world over the coming weeks” so keep an eye out for the patch when it arrives. More is on the way as the company teases it’s bringing “modern design elements to other areas of YouTube, such as the YouTube Kids app.”

If you plan on traveling anytime soon, be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best YouTube proxies for 2023. Not every global region allows access to the platform.

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YouTube could soon let you search for songs just by humming

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head so often you know how it goes but not its name? Well, YouTube may one day offer a solution as the platform is testing out a new search function that will be able to identify a song just from someone humming a tune.

While that sounds too good to be true, it does appear to be part of an ongoing project to introduce Shazam-like tech to YouTube. As seen on a Google support page, the feature would allow people to look up songs either by humming, as we just mentioned, or “recording a song that’s currently being played” into the voice search tool. 

The company states the humming or recording must last at least three seconds “in order for the song to be identified.” Once found, the website will bring up relevant, official content from YouTube channels, “user-generated videos”, or Shorts featuring the track.

Because it’s experimental, the platform is rolling out the test to only a “small percentage of people across the globe who watch YouTube on Android devices.” It’s unknown if it’s possible to request to join the program. We reached out to Google for more information. This story will be updated at a later time.

Old tech made new

The technology behind analyzing humming to find specific music tracks is not new. Both Google Search and Google Assistant for mobile rolled out this functionality back in 2020. YouTube’s version could well be using the same tech although it sounds like it has been vastly improved. To search for tracks on Google Assistant, for example, requires you to hum for at least 10 seconds straight versus three on YouTube.

Considering that Google is expanding its music recognition software, we can’t help but wonder if Apple will follow suit with Shazam. For the 20 some-odd years it’s been around, Shazam has relied on analyzing recordings to look up songs, never expanding its tech to include humming or singing even when it was bought out

Apple didn’t budge when smaller, third-party music recognition apps like MusixMatch began implementing this feature. But now that a major rival is jumping into the fray, we might see the long-awaited upgrade. 

Quality-of-life update

Google is also experimenting with another YouTube feature although it’s more of a quality-of-life upgrade than anything super substantial. The tech giant calls it “channel shelf”, and it will bundle together multiple uploads from your Subscription feed. Presumably, everything can be put together into a playlist of sorts. Google doesn’t explain exactly how it works.

It does explain why the company is adding this. One: YouTube wants to “make it easier for users to find” and engage with content. Two: it wants to take some of the pressure off creators who feel the need to upload videos multiple times a day. Like the humming upgrade, this is only available to “a small percentage of viewers to start.”

Listening to music on YouTube isn't the greatest experience. The platform compresses the audio, resulting in a dip in quality. You're better off listening to tracks on a proper streaming service. 

With that in mind, be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best music streaming services for 2023. We recommend Tidal if you want truly lossless audio.

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