AI Is Going to Be Napster 2.0 for the Music Industry

Michael Beausoleil
6 min readApr 24

Drake and The Weeknd had a song go viral recently, and they didn’t have to do a thing. In fact, they didn’t sing at all. Artificial intelligence did everything.

A robot turning Drake and The Weeknd into music

The ominous track named Heart on My Sleeve was released by a user named “ghostwriter” and racked up millions of views across platforms. Despite being taken down just as fast as it goes up, it’s made a lot of noise in the music industry.

Universal Music Group (UMG) responded by condemning the use of technology to imitate the likeness of artists’ voices and music production (UMG claims it isn’t against the tech itself). But, it may be too late. AI is generating music, and UMG is scared.

Fans may have mixed opinions on this creation, but the music industry is scrambling. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is a turning point and we’re witnessing history. Just like Napster changed music distribution, this could change the standard for music creation. It’s quite possible Heart on My Sleeve is the first drop before the AI floodgate bursts open.

Why the sudden worry?

This isn’t the first time an AI track showed up online. There have been a lot of AI-produced covers (like “Kanye West” performing Hey There Delilah), to the point that Drake said it was the “last straw” when he encountered an AI-generated track of his voice performing Ice Spice’s Munch. However, those were just fun and games and most people weren’t getting fooled.

So what makes it different? The general consensus is Heart on My Sleeve is good.

Heart on my sleeve on Spotify before getting taken down
Heart on My Sleeve on Spotify, though the track won’t play

Heart on My Sleeve isn’t the most polished track, but people who used file-sharing services like Napster are familiar with leaked music — and quality is about on par with that. Some trained ears would recognize that these aren’t truly Drake or The Weeknd’s vocals, but most people won’t listen too closely (assuming they’re unaware of AI’s involvement). So, by most accounts, this deepfake could have replaced the actual artists.

While ghostwriter hasn’t revealed which software was used to create the track, voice replication…

Michael Beausoleil

User Analytics | Digital & Brand Marketing | Productivity … hoping to explore topics that interest me and find others with similar passions