The battle for control of top music artists’ voices has begun in earnest with the news that Heart On My Sleeve - a track that sounds like it was recorded by Drake and The Weeknd but actually features the vocal talents of AI - has been removed from streaming services.
It’s not clear exactly why the song has now been removed, but Universal Music Group, the label that both Drake and The Weeknd are signed to, has released a statement in which it slammed the use of artificial intelligence to create music that sounds like it was recorded by its artists and set the scene for further battles to come.
“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 told Billboard. “We’re encouraged by the engagement of our platform partners on these issues - as they recognize they need to be part of the solution.”
Although UMG didn’t confirm that it had asked the streaming services to remove Heart On My Sleeve, the statement suggests that it wouldn’t hesitate to take that kind of action if similar scenarios arise in the future. And this seems highly likely; commenting on their YouTube post of the track, Ghostwriter noted that “this is just the beginning”.
This, undoubtedly, is true. When entrepreneur and tech influencer Roberto Nickson posted a Kanye West-esque AI generated track on Twitter, he was quick to point out that we’re only scratching the surface of what this kind of technology is capable of.
"Keep in mind, this is the worst that AI will ever be,” he noted. “In just a few years, every popular musician will have multiple trained models of them."
And we’re sure their lawyers are primed and ready.