Streaming Services Just Hit Pause on AI-Generated Drake

This article was originally published on April 17, and updated on April 18

AI-generated content is advancing at an extremely fast pace, seemingly ready to take over every corner of the creative industry; music, in particular, is the latest arena to feel the effects of the AI revolution, thanks to “heart on my sleeve,” an AI Drake and The Weeknd track that’s doing huge streaming numbers on Spotify.

With artificial intelligence technology’s emergence into the mainstream, the world’s begun opening its eyes to the possibilities and potential it possesses.

While it promises countless benefits across several industries, within art and media, it’s drummed up fears concerning copyright and ownership of not only our creative outputs but our voice and likeness, too.

For the past few months of the year, fashion’s served as an AI playground, with programs like Midjourney being used to put Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos on to designer runways, Pope Francis in Moncler, and Balenciaga into everything from Harry Potter to Breaking Bad.

Clearly, the only limitation is our imaginations, as AI possesses the learning power and technological know-how to craft anything and everything.

Over the weekend, a new song from Drake & The Weeknd took the world by storm. The only thing is, neither artist actually provided lyrics or a vocal performance for the song.

Created by TikTok user “Ghostwriter977,” the track “heart on my sleeve” features The Weeknd on the hook, with Drake handling the verses.

Since its upload, the track has done well over 250,000 streams on Spotify – the kind of numbers you’d expect a major artist, such as Drake or The Weeknd, to achieve in such a short space of time.

Unsurprisingly, UMG, which controls around 1/3 of the global music market, has requested that AI music be banned from streaming platforms, with it seeming more and more likely that more record labels and artists will follow suit.

While AI gives us the ability to unlock our dreams, with countless AI artist covers already online, there’s clearly huge potential for exploitation.

Should a person’s voice and likeliness be readily available for people to use as a tool to create works without permission? I don’t think so. Should they be able to profit from such works? Absolutely not.

Although the estimated royalties on 250,000 streams is a mere $595, regardless of the work done by the uploader to write the lyrics and necessary prompts for the AI, it’s still money profited from artists without their permission.

Whether or not there will be laws implemented to protect artists, creators, and your average Joe from AI-generated content is yet to be seen, but, with as we continue to see the results of the technology’s constant, fast-paced evolution, it’s becoming more and more likely.

Since this piece was published, it looks like steps have been taken to have the track pulled from streaming sites, with the song unavailable to play via Spotify.

UMG has also released a statement, saying, “UMG’s success has been, in part, due to embracing new technology and putting it to work for our artists–as we have been doing with our own innovation around AI for some time already.

With that said, however, 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.”

No matter the outcome, it’s clear that the music industry and creative industries at large are going to be changed forever by AI. Like it or not, it’s best you buckle in for the ride – things are going to get crazy.


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