A new song believed to feature AI-generated fake vocals from Drake and The Weeknd that went viral over the weekend has been pulled from most streaming platforms after their label, Universal Music Group, released a statement Monday (April 17) condemning “infringing content created with generative AI.”
Released by an anonymous TikTok user called Ghostwriter977 and credited as Ghostwriter on steaming platforms where it racked up hundreds of thousands of streams, the track “Heart On My Sleeve” features uncannily similar voices to the two superstars — a trick that the creator says was accomplished by using artificial intelligence. It’s unclear if the entire song was created with AI, or just the soundalike vocals.
By Monday afternoon, the song had generated more 600,000 spins on Spotify, and Ghostwriter977’s TikTok videos had been viewed more than 15 million times. A YouTube video had another 275,000 views, with an ominous comment from the creator below it: “This is just the beginning.”
Many music fans seemed impressed. One comment on TikTok with more than 75,000 likes said it was the “first AI song that has actually impressed me.” Another said Ghostwriter was “putting out better drake songs than drake himself.” A third said AI was “getting dangerously good.”
But the end could already be in sight. At time of publishing on Monday evening, “Heart On My Sleeve” had recently been pulled from Spotify, as well as Apple Music, Deezer and TIDAL before it.
Even if short-lived, the sensational success of “Heart On My Sleeve” will no doubt underscore growing concerns over the impact of AI on the music industry. Last week, UMG urged streaming platforms like Spotify to block AI companies from accessing the label’s songs to “train” their machines, and the RIAA has warned that doing so infringes copyrights on a mass scale. Last month, a large coalition of industry organizations warned that AI technology should not be used to “replace or erode” human artistry.
Representatives for Drake and The Weeknd declined to comment on Monday. But in a statement to Billboard, UMG said the viral postings “demonstrate why platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists.”
“The training of generative AI using our artists’ music (which represents both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law) as well as the availability of infringing content created with generative AI on DSPs, begs the question as to which side of history all stakeholders in the music ecosystem want to be on: the side of artists, fans and human creative expression, or on the side of deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation,” a UMG spokesman said in a statement. “We’re encouraged by the engagement of our platform partners on these issues – as they recognize they need to be part of the solution.”
UMG declined to comment on whether it had sent formal takedown requests to streaming services and social media websites.