AI-generated Song Featuring “Drake” and “The Weeknd” Sparks Controversy

KEY TAKEAWAYS
"Heart on My Sleeve," an AI-generated song featuring vocals that resemble Drake and The Weeknd, has gone viral and sparked controversy.
The song was initially uploaded to streaming services without permission from the artists or their record label, prompting concerns over copyright infringement.
Universal Music Group (UMG) has asked streaming services to block access from AI services that might be using their music to train algorithms and has criticized generative AI tools when they infringe on copyright.
The success of AI-generated songs like "Heart on My Sleeve" contradicts the goals of the Human Artistry Campaign, which aims to protect human creators from being replaced by advancing AI technology.
Some artists have expressed concerns about AI-generated music, questioning the legality and ethics of using AI technology to create music that imitates the work of established artists. The ongoing conversation around AI-generated music will undoubtedly shape the future of the industry as artists, record labels, and technology companies navigate the complex relationship between innovation and artistic integrity.

 

An AI-generated song titled “Heart on My Sleeve,” which seems to feature vocals from Drake and The Weeknd, has taken the internet by storm.

The song, created by anonymous TikTok user Ghostwriter977, has garnered over 11 million views across seven promotional videos on the platform since being uploaded on April 15.

Although it appears to include the artists’ vocals and Metro Boomin’s signature producer tag, none of them were involved in its creation.

The record, which features catchy lyrics likely to become popular Instagram captions, has been praised by fans who claim that it sounds like the real artists.

One user commented on Ghostwriter’s TikTok, “Hardest Drake in a long time and it’s AI,” receiving nearly 2,000 likes.

Another user added, “This is so unreasonably good. I just downloaded it on Apple Music. I really hope you don’t get sued for this because I don’t want this to go away.”

Unauthorized Use of Artists’ Music

The song was initially uploaded to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music on April 4. 

The Weeknd, Drake, and Metro Boomin all have licensing and marketing deals that distribute their music through Republic Records.

Representatives for Republic Records have not responded to requests for comment regarding the track.

Universal Music Group (UMG), the parent company to Republic Records, has recently asked streaming services to block access from AI services that might be using their music to train algorithms.

A spokesperson for UMG told the Financial Times, “We have a moral and commercial responsibility to our artists to work to prevent the unauthorized use of their music and to stop platforms from ingesting content that violates the rights of artists and other creators.”

AI and Copyright Infringement

The “Heart on My Sleeve” track is no longer available on major streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal, although it remains on YouTube.

UMG did not specifically mention Ghostwriter977’s song or confirm if it issued any takedown requests, but the company supports the use of AI to assist artists while criticizing generative AI tools when they infringe on copyright.

This viral song has raised questions about the legality of AI-generated music.

Music and copyright lawyer Alexander Ross suggested that the creators of AI covers could be breaking the law if they intentionally mislead people into thinking the recordings are authentic. 

He added that if any part of the original recording is stolen, it could constitute copyright infringement.

Opposition to AI Music Revolution

The success of “Heart on My Sleeve” and other AI-generated songs contradicts the goals of the Human Artistry Campaign, launched in March.

The campaign, supported by over 40 major music and entertainment organizations, aims to protect human creators from being replaced by advancing AI technology.

Mitch Glazier, RIAA chairman and CEO, shared in a statement that human artistry is irreplicable and called for a healthy path for AI innovation that enhances and rewards human creativity and performance.

The song, created by anonymous TikTok user Ghostwriter977, has garnered over 11 million views across seven promotional videos on the platform since being uploaded on April 15.

Marketing Ploy Behind the Viral Song

Mitchell Cohen of App Sumo suggested in a Twitter thread that the AI track was created by a software startup as a marketing ploy.

Cohen traced the origins of the track to the TikTok account @ghostwriter977, which includes a link to the full track that leads to a website requesting personal details in exchange for a full copy.

The site is owned by a startup firm called Laylo, which offers content creators tools to reach more fans and subscribers. Laylo retweeted Cohen’s thread but did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Artists’ Reactions to AI-generated Music

The “Heart on My Sleeve” track comes just days after Drake criticized the fast-growing AI technology.

The Canadian rapper expressed his disapproval after an AI-generated cover of him rapping Ice Spice’s breakthrough song, “Munch,” went viral.

Drake shared a clip of the cover on his Instagram story, writing, “This is the final straw AI.”

Other artists have also expressed concerns about AI-generated music.

An AI Rihanna cover of Beyoncé’s “Cuff It” went viral last week, prompting discussions on the legality and ethics of using AI technology to create music that imitates the work of established artists.

As AI-generated music gains popularity, the debate surrounding the technology’s impact on the music industry, copyright infringement, and the rights of artists and creators continues to intensify.

While some fans appreciate the AI-generated songs for their novelty and resemblance to their favorite artists, others argue that it undermines the unique creative process and value of human artistry.

The ongoing conversation around AI-generated music will undoubtedly shape the future of the industry as artists, record labels, and technology companies navigate the complex relationship between innovation and artistic integrity.

Craig Miller

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