After a song featuring the AI-generated voices of the rappers Drake and The Weekend went viral on Monday, the world’s biggest record label demanded a reckoning from streaming platforms. The Netherlands-based Universal Music Group (UMG), which represents both artists, has already tried to block artificial intelligence programs from accessing its catalog, but that appears to be easier said than done.
A song titled ‘heart on my sleeve’ clocked more than 15 million plays on TikTok, 625,000 on Spotify and over 230,000 on YouTube in just a few hours, before the platforms moved to take it down for copyright infringement.
Drake and The Weeknd are both represented by Republic Records, a subsidiary of UMG. The Dutch-based label is the world’s largest, with a market share greater than all independents combined.
After the incident, UMG issued a statement insisting that having AI generate music from their artists’ catalog “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.”
Platforms “have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists,” the label added.
Various AI programs have become so advanced that they are now able to replicate both music and the voices of artists, threatening UMG’s massive catalog worth billions of dollars. The label regards AI-generated music as an existential threat to its business model.