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Drake/The Weeknd deepfake song “Heart on My Sleeve” submitted to Grammys

(L) Drake. Photo via publicist (R) The Weeknd. Photo by Brian Ziff.


“Heart on My Sleeve,” a song created by the producer Ghostwriter using deepfaked vocal likenesses of Drake and The Weeknd, has been submitted to the Grammys for consideration, the New York Times reports. The song debuted in April and was created without the approval of either artist; after the song quickly became a viral sensation, Universal Music Group successfully pulled it from streaming services.

The song was submitted for the Song of the Year and Best Rap Song awards. The trophies for these categories are awarded to songwriters, not performers — speaking with the Times, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said “Heart on My Sleeve” is “absolutely eligible because it was written by a human.”

Mason Jr.’s statement does not contradict the letter of previous remarks he’s made on the topic. In an interview with Variety published this summer, he said the Grammys would not recognize music generated entirely using an A.I.-assisted program, saying “We’re not going to be giving a nomination or an award to an AI computer or someone who just prompted AI.”

However, songs created by real people using AI-assisted tools are eligible. “[M]aterial using AI can be submitted, but the human portion of the composition, or the performance, is the only portion that can be awarded or considered for a Grammy Award.” Because Ghostwriter’s song relies on voice models of Drake and the Weeknd, it can be considered under songwriting categories, but not performance ones.

There is a potential roadblock to the eligibility of “Heart on My Sleeve”: the “general distribution” requirement of the Grammys. “Heart on My Sleeve” was never legally sold and only briefly appeared on streaming platforms before it was pulled; to receive a Grammy nomination, songs must have had a “broad release… available nationwide via brick-and-mortar stores, third-party online retailers and/or streaming services,” according to Recording Academy guidelines.

The Times reports that Ghostwriter’s team “is aware” of the requirement and that the Academy is still evaluating the song’s eligibility based on this factor.

Mason Jr. told the Times that it was important to “grapple with” the implications of Ghostwriter’s music. “When you start seeing A.I. involved in something so creative and so cool, relevant and of-the-moment, it immediately starts you thinking, ‘OK, where is this going? How is this going to affect creativity? What’s the business implication for monetization?’”

The FADER has reached out to representatives for Drake and the Weeknd for their reactions.