AI-generated Drake and The Weeknd song pulled from streaming platforms
If you spent almost any time on the internet this week, you probably saw a lot of chatter about “Heart on My Sleeve.” The song went viral for featuring AI-generated voices that do a pretty good job of mimicking Drake and The Weeknd singing about a recent breakup.
Listen to this AI generated song featuring Drake & The Weeknd.
It goes so damn hard.
It’s by “Ghostwriter977” on TikTok and it’s blowing up on socials + streaming platforms.
UMG, which controls around 1/3 of the global music market, has already asked streaming platforms to ban… pic.twitter.com/roz2EfI48M
— Roberto Nickson (@rpnickson) April 16, 2023
On Monday, Apple Music and Spotify pulled the track following a complaint from Universal Music Group, the label that represents the real-life versions of the two Toronto-born artists. A day later, YouTube, Amazon, SoundCloud, Tidal, Deezer and TikTok did the same.
At least, they tried to comply with the complaint, but as is always the case with the internet, you can still find the song on websites like YouTube. Before it was removed from Spotify, “Heart on My Sleeve” was a bonafide hit. People streamed the track more than 600,000 times. On TikTok, where the creator of the song, the aptly named Ghostwriter977, first uploaded it, users listened to “Heart on My Sleeve” more than 15 million times.
In a statement Universal Music Group shared with publications like Music Business Worldwide, the label argued the training of a generative AI using the voices of Drake and The Weeknd was “a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law.” The company added that streaming platforms had a “legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists.”
It’s fair to say the music industry, much like the rest of society, now finds itself at an inflection point over the use of AI. While there are obvious ethical issues related to the creation of “Heart on My Sleeve,” it’s unclear if it’s a violation of traditional copyright law. In March, the US Copyright Office said art, including music, cannot be copyrighted if it was produced by providing a text prompt to a generative AI model. However, the office left the door open to granting copyright protections to works with AI-generated elements.
“The answer will depend on the circumstances, particularly how the AI tool operates and how it was used to create the final work,” it said. “This is necessarily a case-by-case inquiry. If a work’s traditional elements of authorship were produced by a machine, the work lacks human authorship and the Office will not register it.” In the case of “Heart on My Sleeve,” complicating matters is that the song was written by a human being. It’s impossible to say how a court challenge would play out. What is clear is that we’re only the start of a very long discussion about the role of AI in music.