TORONTO — Record industry giant Universal Music Group is encouraging a crackdown on unauthorized use of its performers' voices after a fake, A.I.-generated song featuring Drake and the Weeknd made the rounds online.
The track, titled "Heart on My Sleeve," appeared Saturday on YouTube and TikTok, posted by an anonymous user named Ghostwriter977 who said it was made using A.I. technology.
Soon after, the song turned up on streaming services Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, where it amassed hundreds of thousands of plays.
Universal — which releases music from both Toronto pop heavyweights — issued at least one successful takedown request on YouTube, though the song remains in circulation on the site as users repost it themselves. It has also disappeared from major streaming platforms.
The fake collaboration is the latest in a string of unauthorized A.I.-generated songs that have captured attention for using collected audio data to convincingly replicate the voices of popular singers.
Recently, an unauthorized remix of Beyonce's "Cuff It" featured a computer-generated version of Rihanna's voice. Kanye West has been the voice model for various covers he never actually recorded, including a version of Colbie Caillat's 2007 hit "Bubbly" and Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah."
Universal says in a statement that fake songs are "both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law."
The company urged digital service providers, such as music streaming services, to take a stronger position that sides with creators and doesn't encourage "deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation."
It added: "These instances demonstrate why platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists."
Neither Drake nor the Weeknd has commented on the fake track.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 18, 2023.
David Friend, The Canadian Press