After a report this week that a viral AI song that mimics vocals by Drake and The Weeknd was submitted for consideration for next year’s Grammy Awards, Recording Academy chief Harvey Mason Jr. took to social media on Thursday night to shoot down “inaccurate information” around the eligibility of AI songs.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Ghostwriter, an anonymous artist who produces AI tracks featuring the computer-generated vocals of artists such as Travis Scott, 21 Savage and more, would submit his viral AI track “Heart on My Sleeve” for Grammy consideration. The track, which uses AI vocals to mimic Drake and The Weeknd, was uploaded to music streaming services Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music on April 4, but was quickly taken down after a copyright claim by Universal Music Group.
In the Times story, Ghostwriter’s team said they had submitted “Heart on My Sleeve” for Grammy recognition in two categories at the 2024 edition of the awards, including best rap song and song of the year. Those two categories give awards to the writers of the track that wins.
“As far as the creative side, it’s absolutely eligible because it was written by a human,” Mason said of the eligibility of “Heart on my Sleeve” in an interview with Times.
Mason’s response created more confusion and elicited a social media backlash. On Thursday, the Recording Academy CEO posted a short video on his Instagram in an attempt to clarify the eligibility rules.
“I’m sorry, but I have to clear up some of this bad and really inaccurate information that’s starting to float around,” Mason said. “This version of “Heart on My Sleeve” using the AI voice modeling, that sounds like Drake and The Weeknd, it’s not eligible for Grammy consideration.”
“Let me be extra, extra clear, even though it was written by a human creator, the vocals were not legally obtained, the vocals were not cleared by the label or the artists and the song is not commercially available and because of that, it’s not eligible,” Mason continued.
He added, “I take this [AI] stuff very seriously. It’s all complicated, and it’s moving, really, really quickly. I’m sure things are going to continue to have to evolve and change. But please, please, do not be confused. The Academy is here to support and advocate and protect and represent human artists, and human creators period.”
In June, Mason, in a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, was adamant that the Recording Academy “will not be awarding a Grammy to AI.” But he did say that the Grammys want to honor music created with AI elements, but fundamentally the song must be made by humans as well, and humans have to have a larger role in the creation of a track. “You can win a Grammy for the human portion of the track,” he explained.