Features

Ghostwriter: Brain Behind Viral Drake AI Song Breaks Silence; Speaks On Why AI Is The Future of Music

BY Abena Dzaka October 16, 2023 4:13 PM EDT
Photo Credit: Heart_on_My_Sleeve on Wikipedia

Song covers are proliferating on social media as a result of AI music-generating technology being in the hands of the general public.

In April, a musician named Ghostwriter released the song “Heart on My Sleeve,” in which the voices of Drake and The Weeknd were accurately imitated using AI voice filters. Some listeners mistakenly believed that Drake and The Weeknd had just formed a new band. The song became one of the greatest music stories of the year and generated some controversy regarding the project’s morals. The Weeknd and Drake didn’t give their permission for the song’s creation.

In his very first interview, Ghostwriter likens his writing to fan fiction. He explained to Billboard that “[it’s] a fan-generated genre of music.” “Some might feel this creates competition or steals attention away from an artiste’s own music, but I would disagree.”

Instead, he believes that AI-generated music has the potential to increase the income of both musicians and songwriters. The modified vocals in “Heart on My Sleeve” are the only artificial intelligence (AI)-generated component. “It is definitely my songwriting, my production, and my voice,” claimed Ghostwriter, who would not identify himself to Billboard. “Maybe it sounds corny, but Ghostwriter and I are just a small part of this. The future of music lies in it,” he noted.

The Ghostwriter and his management defended their illicit use of other artistes’ voices by framing their experimenting as the crude first step toward an AI-powered future when asked about his thoughts on streaming revenues and artiste consent. “Everything starts somewhere like Spotify wouldn’t exist without Napster,” the manager of Ghostwriter told Billboard. “Nothing is perfect when it first starts, that is simply the way things are. Hopefully, everyone will recognize the immense worth that exists here,” he added.

They claimed that in order for all artistes to eventually start licensing their vocal likenesses, Drake, The Weeknd, Travis Scott, and 21 Savage are effectively taking one for the team. The manager advises, “Consider singing a karaoke song in the artiste’s voice or receiving a customized birthday message from your favorite artiste.”

They imagine that music produced with AI assistance would have a special label and even have its own tab on streaming services like Spotify.

When the Ghostwriter and his manager were questioned regarding “Heart on My Sleeves'” Grammy eligibility, the manager told Billboard that Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. had contacted them by DM to find out more about the Ghostwriter’s use of AI. “He put together an industry roundtable with some of the brightest minds, including people in the copyright office, legal departments at labels, Spotify, and Ghostwriter,” stated the manager. “We had an open conversation.”

In answer to a query regarding paying composers what they are entitled to, Ghostwriter’s manager said, “As a songwriter himself, Ghostwriter knows how little they get paid.” He used AI because he wanted to provide composers with new revenue streams. He thinks AI can let musicians hear how a song would sound in their own voice before selecting a song for a project. Additionally, he thinks that composers may use AI-generated covers of well-known musicians to get a bigger cut of the streaming revenue from such songs,” the manager opined.

According to Ghostwriter, “Heart on My Sleeve” is more proof of how important songwriting is to the creation of music. Many talented songwriters have the ability to alter their appearance in the recording studio in order to match the musician they are writing for. I get to showcase that talent with Ghostwriter,” he says.

“How many incredible songs are sitting on songwriters’ and producers’ desktops that will never be heard by the world?” he was asked by Billboard. “The Ghostwriter Project…is about not throwing art in the trash.”

His manager added, “We’re just trying to raise a focus on the value that songwriters offer and that their compensation currently doesn’t match that contribution. We’re not in any way attempting to denigrate the hard work and deserving quality of the musicians and the companies that support them.”