An AI-generated “Drake” song raises alarm bells for labels like Universal Music

Friday, April 21, 2023 by Snacks
Champagne Papi meets AI copies (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Champagne Papi meets AI copies (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Nice for bot… ICYMI: an AI-generated song featuring the voices of Drake and The Weeknd went viral this week. “Heart on My Sleeve,” posted on TikTok by a bed-sheet-clad user called Ghostwriter977, racked up millions of streams across YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, and other platforms. The ghostwriter said they wrote and produced the verses for the AI-generated vocals. Then came the takedowns:

  • Universal Music Group, the world’s largest label, which reps Drake and The Weeknd, had the song removed from platforms.

  • Legal verse: Universal said “the training of generative AI using our artists’ music” violates copyright law and that “we will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists.”

Fake Drake(s) aren’t the only problem… Universal was quick to act, but now another Drake fake (“Winter’s Cold”) has hit the internet. Labels like UMG, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music have been effective in aggressively protecting their music (think: YouTube videos and Insta stories being taken down or demonetized). Platforms like YouTube scan videos to see whether they contain copyrighted content, so identification is nearly instant. But AI tracks could be harder to spot. For consumers, it’s also tough to know if a track is authentic because Auto-Tune (used to synthetically improve tracks) is so prevalent.


It may be endless Whac-A-Mole… until hard rules are established for AI-generated content. Copyright issues will likely keep popping up, and not just for the music industry: media publishers are said to be gearing up for a showdown with Microsoft, Google, and OpenAI, demanding compensation for use of their articles. Meanwhile, AI-art lawsuits could set precedents for bots trained on copyrighted artwork.

Subscribe to Snacks