AI-Generated Drake And The Weeknd Song Banned From Music Platforms

AI is on everyone’s lips in the music industry. And one AI-generated song has poured even more fuel to the fire, sparking alarm amongst some of the biggest names in the game.

A Fake Track That Took The World By Storm

Heart on My Sleeve sounds like your standard featuring between Canadian superstars The Weeknd and Drake, who previously collaborated on songs like The Zone, Crew Love, and Live For. The world’s most streamed artist on Spotify and the platinum-selling rapper from Toronto even trade verses about Selena Gomez, hinting at the former’s widely covered past relationship with the American pop star.

First appearing on YouTube last Friday, courtesy of an anonymous user, Heart on My Sleeve quickly became viral. The track made its way to streaming services like Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music in no time. Days later, it had already garnered over 20 million views and listens. But it turns out the latest song to take over the world was merely the work of an AI mimicking both artists all along.

Using advanced machine learning software to create a song from scratch is not a first in the industry. Several websites have popped up recently, offering fans the possibility to replicate the voice of their favourite singers. Following a string of unauthorised computer-generated tracks cloning the likes of Adele, Rihanna, and Kanye West, the fake collaboration between Drake and The Weeknd is arguably late to the party. Yet Heart on My Sleeve may well be a turning point for the industry as a whole.

Universal Music Group Steps In To Raise The Alarm

Universal Music Group, whose roster includes both Toronto heavyweights, issued a statement calling for a crackdown on AI-powered music. A spokesperson from UMG asked for platforms to “prevent their services from being used in ways that harm artists.” The publisher also sent urgent letters to all streaming services around, demanding they block AI platforms from training on the melodies of their copywritten songs.

This commanding manoeuvre seems to have borne fruit, as Heart on My Sleeve is no longer available on platforms like Deezer, Tidal, Spotify, and Apple Music. Although the track still circulates on YouTube and TikTok, it might soon be pulled out from both social media giants.

So, is artificial intelligence the new bone of contention for music corporations and artists across the board? UMG’s move is not as clear-cut as it looks. Despite encouraging a clampdown on fraudulent songs created by AI, Universal Music Group stated it wasn’t against the technology itself. The publisher said it had been doing innovation around artificial intelligence for some time. However, AI so advanced it can clone melodies and musicians’ voices within seconds is too substantial a threat to the music company’s deep library to ignore.

A Double-Edged Sword For The Music Industry

For all the tensions it elicits, AI may well be a game-changer – and too unstoppable a force already. Rolling Stone magazine claimed that AI tracks could be the largest disruptor in the music industry since the rise of digital downloads. It may even be argued that AI could prove more empowering than undermining. While there is no denying that artificial intelligence is somewhat of a grey area at the moment, the nascent technology has the potential to usher in a new era of user-centric experiences.

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As it stands, artificial intelligence is bound to keep stirring up debate in the music ecosystem. Major artists have already given their two cents on the matter. After he created an AI song with a rap voice cloning that of Eminem’s, French DJ David Guetta stated that AI was an ethical problem needing to be addressed. Meanwhile, Drake and The Weeknd have yet to react to the ongoing Heart on My Sleeve controversy. But publishers and creators alike won’t be able to evade weighing in on the issue much longer.