‘Heart on My Sleeve’ Reuploads Are Still Making Waves on YouTube — And Underscoring the Need for a Comprehensive Response to Infringing AI Music

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Notwithstanding the explosion of AI music on YouTube, it appears that unauthorized tracks including ‘Heart on My Sleeve’ are being removed on a video-by-video basis.

Duplicate videos of “Heart on My Sleeve,” the AI-generated (and unauthorized) original work made to sound like a collaboration between The Weeknd and Drake, are continuing to rack up a substantial number of YouTube views following the takedown of Ghostwriter’s initial upload.

Upon being removed from YouTube, the first “Heart on My Sleeve” video had scored somewhere in the ballpark of 500,000 on-platform views – success that was (and is) reflected in viewership totals on social media services such as TikTok and Twitter.

In one of many testaments to the strong fan demand behind the AI work, a days-old tweet featuring a since-disabled video of the track has attracted an astonishing 20.4 million views thus far. Of course, the song was quickly pulled from streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify – which look to be missing out on a major hit as a result of their relatively prompt responses to the takedown requests of Universal Music Group (UMG).

At the time of writing, reuploads of “Heart on My Sleeve” were still making waves on YouTube, with potentially millions of cumulative views to their credit. Also worth noting is that search recommendations displayed after typing “AI” into the appropriate box included “AI drake song,” “AI drake weeknd,” and all manner of similar terms.

To be sure, two recently added “Heart on My Sleeve” videos boasted nearly one million views together – but both were then ripped down in response to RIAA copyright claims before this piece was published. The first of the reuploads had specifically secured 429,000 or so views, compared to roughly 401,000 views for the second video. However, the associated YouTube accounts, unlike that which initially released “Heart on My Sleeve,” appeared to be active post-removals.

Despite these pulldowns, finding the unofficial song – and other artificial intelligence music – required only seconds on YouTube and social platforms at the time of writing. The point raises interesting questions about the limited effectiveness of the present takedown system when it comes to AI, besides drawing attention to the corresponding need for a Content ID algorithm update and related pivots on different services.

It goes without saying that AI is in its infancy, with a quick-growing number of individuals learning about and utilizing the technology (directly or through the consumption of resulting media) with each passing day.

And while experts say that Content ID can “easily” be used to block unauthorized audio like that of the Drake/The Weeknd “collaboration” – it’s unclear why that hasn’t yet happened – one needn’t be an expert to gather that the approach is decidedly unsuited for stemming (or even putting a dent in) the tide of unofficial AI music.

From AI-created renditions of “Eye of the Tiger” as performed by Michael Jackson to original artificial intelligence tracks featuring the soundalike voices of Drake and Tyler, the Creator, to name just a couple, a seemingly endless stream of machine-made music is currently arriving on YouTube and elsewhere.

Though an abundance of far-reaching questions remain – concerning how exactly the issue will be tackled, compensation stemming from unauthorized AI works, and much else – the short-term reality is that artificial intelligence music looks to be drawing attention and cash away from music created by humans.

Against this backdrop, and bearing in mind the long-term threat posed by the unprecedented trend, logic suggests that the majors, rightsholders, and others will compel the rollout of comprehensive platform-specific solutions and guidelines sooner rather than later.