AI-generated song imitating Drake and The Weeknd yanked from streaming services
MONTREAL, Canada—A new song created using AI software to imitate Canadian singers Drake and The Weeknd has been removed from streaming services after quickly racking up millions of listens and sparking debate over the new technology.
Released last Friday, “Heart on My Sleeve” was briefly available on platforms including Spotify and Apple Music before Universal Music Group (UMG)—which publishes both artists through its Republic Records subsidiary—said it violates copyrights and asked for its removal.
The song features artificial intelligence (AI) simulating the voices of the two artists trading verses about actress and pop star Selena Gomez, who once dated The Weeknd.
Its creator, known only as @ghostwriter, claims to have used software that was trained on their voices to make the track, posting: “I used AI to make a Drake song feat. The Weeknd.”
“This is just the beginning,” he added on TikTok.
Universal Music Group, which controls about one third of the global music industry, is increasingly concerned about AIs using its songs to produce music similar to that of popular artists.
Training AI software without artists’ permission “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,” the company said in an email to AFP.
In March, UMG wrote to streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple, asking them to block AI services from extracting melodies and lyrics from their copyrighted songs, according to emails viewed by the Financial Times.
With streaming services moving quickly to take down the most recent viral song, UMG told AFP on Tuesday it was “encouraged by the engagement of our platform partners on these issues — as they recognize they need to be part of the solution.”
“These instances demonstrate why platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists,” the statement added.
The use of AI in music is the subject of debate in the industry, with some denouncing copyright abuses and others praising its prowess.
David Guetta recently used AI to add a vocal in the style of rapper Eminem to a song for a live show. But the French producer said he won’t release it commercially.
In an interview with the BBC, Guetta compared AI to instruments such as the electric guitar, bass synthesizer, drum machine and sampler that led to musical revolutions including rock ‘n’ roll and hip hop. /ra