Person Behind Viral Drake and The Weeknd Emulation on Why They Believe Licensing Voices for AI Is ‘Future of Music’

The new cover story, notably, does not reveal the identity of the individual or their manager.

ghostwriter is pictured
Image via TikTok
ghostwriter is pictured

The person behind the ongoing Ghostwriter project, which was responsible for the viral track “Heart on My Sleeve” earlier this year, has given Billboard their first-ever interview.

In a conversation with Kristin Robinson conducted alongside @ghostwriter977’s manager, who—like their client—has chosen to remain anonymous, the unknown individual looks back on the impetus behind the project while also looking ahead to what they see as the “future of music.”

As you’ll recall, “Heart on My Sleeve” featured AI-generated imitations of Drake and The Weeknd’s voice. While the song was briefly available on major streaming platforms amid its TikTok-fueled popularity, it was ultimately pulled from such services by UMG. Notably, it was also made without the permission of either emulated artist.

But in the new interview, Ghostwriter's manager says this initial release was intentionally designed as "an experiment to prove the market was there." Moving forward, future releases will not be pushed to traditional streaming platforms without the artists themselves being involved.

Both Ghoswriter and their manager mention the possibility of artists one day being open to the idea of licensing their voices for AI-related uses. In theory, Ghostwriter explained, these types of projects would be labeled separately from the actual artist's catalog on streaming services and elsewhere so as not to deceive listeners.

"Maybe it sounds cheesy, but this is a lot bigger than me and Ghostwriter," they said. "It’s the future of music."

The full interview also sees Ghostwriter and their manager discussing their recent push to be eligible for potential Grammy awards, the second Ghostwriter release “Whiplash,” the ethical concerns raised regarding this type of tech being used to emulate the voices of dead artists, and much more. As Robinson said when sharing the piece on Wednesday, this gets into a story that's arguably "more definining" and "controversial" than any other in the AI-and-music discourse.

Meanwhile, legendary music exec Jimmy Iovine recently shared his own thoughts on AI in an interview with Consequence of Sound for the publication's Consequence UNCUT podcast. Listen here.

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