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Viral AI-powered Drake and The Weeknd song is removed from streaming services

The track sparked legal and ethical questions.
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An AI-voiced rap song replicating the voices of the artists Drake and The Weeknd that went viral on Sunday had been taken down from streaming services as of Tuesday morning. 

The song, “heart on my sleeve,” was created by an anonymous musician who goes by ghostwriter. “Heart on my sleeve” features vocals that sound like Drake and The Weeknd as well as Metro Boomin’s signature producer tag. Clips of the song went viral on social media, with one Twitter upload of the song garnering 6.9 million views.

In a now-deleted TikTok video, ghostwriter explained that AI was used to create the song but did not disclose what program was used. In a comment under the video, ghostwriter said that they wrote the song, then replaced their voice with Drake’s. Typically, a person can make an AI song like this by writing and recording a track, then use an AI model to replace their vocals with a popular artist’s voice. 

“i was a ghostwriter for years and got paid close to nothing just for major labels to profit. the future is here,” the artist wrote in another TikTok comment.

Ghostwriter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did representatives for The Weeknd or Metro Boomin. A representative for Drake did not comment on the matter.

Listeners were impressed by the AI models’ abilities to capture Drake and The Weeknd’s voices accurately. However, the production and existence of the song itself divided people.

“This is scary lol … song is actually good,” one person tweeted

“His lyrics and song structure was trash, but impressive AI model,” another tweeted.

“i think the new wave of ai music is cool but i don’t think we should be able to distribute these on major platforms for profit,” one person said in a TikTok comment.

As of Tuesday morning, “heart on my sleeve” had been removed from Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, Amazon, YouTube and Tidal. The YouTube link for the song reads, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Universal Music Group.” 

Universal Music Group (UMG), which represents both Drake and The Weeknd, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shortly before “heart on my sleeve” went viral, UMG urged streaming services to prohibit artificial intelligence programs from using its copyrighted music to train themselves.

“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,” UMG said in a statement to the Financial Times. “We expect our platform partners will want to prevent their services from being used in ways that harm artists.”

Drake previously spoke out against an AI-generated cover of him rapping “Munch” by Ice Spice. In an Instagram story posted last Friday, Drake wrote, “This is the final straw AI” in response to the “Munch” dub.

Edward Klaris, a media lawyer and managing partner at Klaris Law, said the song infringes on Drake and The Weeknd’s right of publicity, or the inherent right of an individual to control the commercial use of their likeness.

In regards to the use of copyrighted songs to train AI models, Klaris said that “we’re all waiting for some court’s decision that’s going to tell us whether training data is OK or not OK.” 

We’re all waiting for some court’s decision that’s going to tell us whether training data is OK or not OK.

-Edward Klaris, media lawyer and managing partner at Klaris Law

“Here, they’re using all the pre-existing songs to create new songs,” Klaris said. “And so the Supreme Court could decide it’s not copyright infringement because it’s transformative … or they could say something different, like: ‘It is a copyright infringement. You can’t just take people’s songs and copy them to make new songs that sound just like that.’”

For now, while streaming services have appeared to fulfill the wishes of UMG, Klaris said they don’t have a legal obligation to block these kinds of AI songs under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives internet service providers some immunity from their users’ content.

As for the fate of “heart on my sleeve,” it appears ghostwriter is undeterred by the takedowns. In a comment under one of the recent TikTok videos, ghostwriter said, “add your number to the link in my bio & ill text u when it’s back on Apple Music & Spotify. you can’t kill a ghost.”

The link in ghostwriter’s TikTok bio leads to their Laylo page and prompts visitors to enter their phone numbers so ghostwriter can “send you the Drake Ai song, and a new link if they take it down.”

Laylo is a messaging platform that allows creators and artists to communicate directly with their fans and inform them of new drops. While there was some speculation that Laylo was behind the ghostwriter stunt, the company said in an email statement to NBC News that it was not involved in the creation of the song. 

While it’s unclear who ghostwriter is and what their motivations are, they assured fans on TikTok that “im just getting started.”