And the Grammy Goes to... AI Voices?!
AI Drake, The Weekend, & Travis Scott
It’s no secret that some of the biggest names in the music industry rely on ghostwriters. Some will own up to it and credit the people they work with - others take those accusations with a bit more frustration.
One person who has faced these accusations and criticisms the most is Drake. He’s been alluded to using ghostwriters by other rappers for years. He even has had a few people claim to be one of his writers. But what if someone flipped the tables? What if a writer was able to use Drake's voice instead of Drake using their words? And what if that AI song won a Grammy?
In April of 2023, a TikTok video went viral.
It amassed 15 million views in a few days.
The video showed a person sitting, covered by a bedsheet, wearing sunglasses. What happened next caught the attention of millions. A new song by music artists Drake and The Weeknd started playing.
The song was a banger.
But here is the catch: the song was created with AI.
Well, at least the vocals were. Using the same technology as discussed in our AI kidnapping story - a user named Ghostwritter977 managed to take lyrics he had written, put them to a beat, and had computers fill in the vocals with deepfakes of Drake and the Weekend.
The song was a hit, and the story went viral, gaining millions of views and even more listens on streaming services. “Heart on My Sleeve” was making waves!
It only took a day or so before Universal Music Group, representing both Drake and The Weeknd, decided to step in. They went straight after the song and removed it from all primary music streamers on intellectual property grounds.
You can still find the song through third parties - but not from the original uploader. This is another example we’ve written about in this newsletter of the legal system not knowing how to cope with AI’s fast environments. Because it’s still unclear legally who owns an AI-generated voice.
And this is interesting because the same legal backlash might not occur if it was a human impressionist singing the song.
While we wait on the outcome of the Drake legal case, the ghostwriter and his team have made more giant steps.
As confirmed by an anonymous representative of the ghostwriter — “Heart on My Sleeve” was submitted for Grammy consideration for both song and rap song of the year. It seems like a stretch since neither Drake nor The Weeknd had anything to do with the music.
However, Recording Academy CEO Havery Mason Jr. stated that the song can enter. Why? Well, those two awards are presented to the writers of the songs - not the performers. Since a human wrote the song, it meets the criteria… for now.
The Academy has already started making rules about AI work considering Grammys, but none apply to GhostWriters songs. Likely, the song won’t be chosen for nomination since Universal Music Group severely limited the song’s reach when they removed it from streaming platforms, and to be selected, songs must be widely distributed.
But this hasn’t stopped the ghostwriter from releasing more music.
Sticking with hip hop- earlier this month on Twitter (or is it “x” now?) Ghostwriter released “Whiplash,” which uses the voices of music artists Travis Scott and 21 Savage. Like his earlier video, the writer sits under a sheet and sunglasses, listening to the track.
The tweet read that the future of music is here. He also posted a note on his Twitter reaching out to Travis and 21 - asking them if he could release the entire track, even offering them the royalties. There has yet to be a public response from either artist. But the wildest thing is just how little is known about this ghostwriter. He rarely posts online and has only dropped two songs. He’s done all of this from under a bedsheet!
Anonymous content is nothing new - especially for seasoned ghostwriters. But all we know about this person is that they want to create art and use AI to help them do that. They’ve made some cryptic messages in the past, but nothing enough to indicate who they are or even their primary goal.
A few conspiracies flew around about this person, but nothing seemed solid enough to hold a position on it. Yokai (musician and YouTuber) has a pretty compelling video of who this ghostwriter might be.
Regardless of who this ghostwriter is, AI is inevitably impacting every industry. This doesn’t mean the artists are replaceable - I don’t think anyone is arguing that. But music is going to be different in ten years from now. How much will AI have to do with it? I guess we will have to wait and see.
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