It’s a success that Canadian artists Drake and The Weeknd would have done well without. Since Friday, April 14, a music video posted on TikTok has been a huge hit. The song called “Heart On My Sleeve” features both musicians’ voices. The track makes references to the singer and actress Selena Gomez, with whom The Weeknd had a brief romantic relationship.
The problem is that neither of the two stars was involved in the recording of this song. Instead, an artificial intelligence (AI) managed to imitate their voices and styles. Behind this tour de force, only one name appears: the pseudonym of the TikTok user who published the video, Ghostwriter977. The video has garnered nearly 10 million views. And the track has also been published on other platforms (YouTube, Spotify), where it has been streamed several hundred thousand times.
This incident shows that the music industry is not immune to the revolution of generative AI technologies, which have become famous with the success of software such as ChatGPT, capable of creating natural language text, realistic images or lines of code.
‘Protect our rights and those of our artists’
In the music industry, the intrusion of these technologies raises the question of respect for intellectual property. In response to the success of “Heart On My Sleeve,” Universal Music Group (UMG), the record label for both Drake and The Weeknd – two of its heavyweights – quickly reacted by calling it a violation of copyright law and had the content removed online.
UMG wrote that this “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?”
Back on April 12, tea FinancialTimes Revealed that UMG had called on the major online music platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) in March to stop AI services from hijacking their music to train their algorithms. UMG warned, “We will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists.”
Nevertheless, should the use of artificial intelligence be prohibited in music? Some voices are already speaking out against such a radical position. Like French artist David Guetta, who used an AI tool to write a song whose lyrics reproduced the style of American rapper Eminem and another that allowed him to imitate his voice. It’s “something that I made as a joke and it works so good,” he explained in February, while making it clear that this experiment had no commercial ambition.
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