An entry titled “Heart on My Sleeve” has been submitted for Grammy consideration, and it’s causing quite a stir. The song features uncanny replicas of Drake and the Weeknd’s voices, but neither artist was actually involved in its creation. The person behind this AI-generated music is Ghostwriter, an enigmatic figure who gained notoriety back in April for their AI-powered musical creations. Now, they’re vying for the ultimate prize in the music industry with a mock duet. Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. confirmed to The New York Times that the song meets the eligibility requirements for consideration since it was ultimately crafted by a human.
A spokesperson for Ghostwriter has officially confirmed to the Times that the song “Heart on My Sleeve” was submitted for two prestigious awards – the Best Rap Song and Song of the Year. These awards are given to a song’s writers rather than its performers. Although the vocal performances were computer-generated, the Ghostwriter wrote the song lyrics.
Although the “Heart on My Sleeve” track may be considered eligible from a creative standpoint, the Grammy rules require that songs have “generation distribution”. The recording should be made widely available through brick-and-mortar stores, third-party online retailers, and/or streaming services. Initially, the song appeared on YouTube and streaming services, but it was taken down as Universal Music sent takedown notices to the DSPs. Although it has been re-uploaded by unofficial third parties on the internet and streaming services, it still faces copyright issues. Therefore, achieving commercial viability for “Heart on My Sleeve” is an uphill battle. According to the Times, Ghostwriter’s representative said they knew the commercial availability requirement.
Representatives for Drake and The Weeknd did not comment on media requests. In July, Mason clarified the Academy’s AI rules.
“We’re not going to be giving a nomination or an award to an AI computer or someone who just prompted AI. That’s the distinction that we’re trying to make. It’s the human award highlighting excellence, driven by human creativity.”
The Recording Academy recently released a new set of rules that address the use of AI in music. According to the rules, a piece of work without human authorship is not eligible for any awards. However, the rules allow for assistive AI technology, such as when Paul McCartney used computer software to improve an old John Lennon vocal track in a new Beatles song. Mason, a music industry expert, confirmed this information.
“If three or four Beatles are singing on the record, and one of the voices [has been sonically enhanced by] AI, it’s still a live human performance with a more than di minimis amount by the Beatles,” “Therefore it would be eligible.”
Mason explained to the media,
“What we intended to say was that material using AI can be submitted, but the human portion of the of the composition, or the performance, is the only portion that can be awarded or considered for a Grammy Award. So if an AI modeling system or app built a track — ‘wrote’ lyrics and a melody — that would not be eligible for a composition award. But if a human writes a track and AI is used to voice-model, or create a new voice, or use somebody else’s voice, the performance would not be eligible, but the writing of the track and the lyric or top line would be absolutely eligible for an award.”
He went on:
“The provision states that as long as there’s more than a de minimis amount of human involvement in the portion of the creativity that is being evaluated for nomination, then it will still be considered for a nomination. So if you had a rap record where there was eight bars of AI rap, but the rest of the song was human rapping and there’s a human chorus, that would still be eligible for performance award. There would not be an award given to the AI created piece, of course.”
Mason previously stated that he had spoken with Ghostwriter, the creator of “Heart on My Sleeve”, describing him as “creative” and “forward-looking”.
“From my perspective, this has been an exercise for him to try and establish a dialogue and create some awareness around the possibilities and what are going to be some of the potholes,” “I hate to put statements in his mouth, but my feeling is that he understood exactly what he was doing — he knew this was going to be controversial.”