Controversial Deep Fake Drake and The Weeknd Song Ineligible for 2024 Juno Awards
The Juno Awards, a prestigious celebration of Canadian music, has announced that a controversial deep fake song featuring unauthorized sound-alike vocals of Drake and The Weeknd will not be eligible at next year’s event. The president of the organization, Allan Reid, stated that the newly introduced AI Eligibility rules clearly outline how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used in the creation of songs. Unfortunately, the popular mashup of the two renowned Toronto singers does not meet the requirements.
Reid emphasized that while the song may be titled Drake and The Weeknd, the voices heard in the track are not actually theirs but rather AI-generated voices. He further explained that eligible recordings for the 2024 Juno Awards can incorporate AI, but it cannot be the sole or core component of the project. This criterion leaves room for interpretation, leading Reid to describe this as a learning year for the organization, with the established rules serving as a baseline for future developments.
We want to make sure that we have humans being recognized, Reid said. We can’t be awarding an AI project a Juno.
The introduction of these new criteria comes at a time when the music industry is grappling with the rise of deep fake songs. These tracks utilize computer-generated voices to imitate real artists, flooding the internet with content that blurs the line between genuine and AI-created compositions.
One song that caused a stir earlier this year was Heart on My Sleeve, created by a producer known as Ghostwriter. The track featured convincing performances by AI-generated versions of Drake and The Weeknd. In response, Universal Music Group, the distributor of both Canadian artists, issued takedown notices to music streamers, asserting that unauthorized AI-made songs breached agreements and violated copyright law. The Grammys also clarified that Heart on My Sleeve would not be eligible at its awards show.
However, there are cases where AI incorporation is authorized. For example, Vancouver-born musician Grimes recently released voice-modelling software that allows fans to include her vocals in their music, with the condition that royalties are shared. Reid noted that these two examples could have different outcomes at the Juno Awards. Heart on My Sleeve would have never been eligible since its creator isn’t Canadian and neither vocalist was involved in the project. Moreover, the song was not commercially released due to its unauthorized nature. On the other hand, while Grimes’ vocals are AI-generated and therefore not technically real, if the human producer using her voice software is Canadian, the Juno Awards would take a closer look at the case.
The submission forms for the Junos do not explicitly ask whether AI technology was used in the creation of a project. However, any projects that raise questions will be reviewed by the Juno’s music advisory committees.
It’s undeniable that AI is going to revolutionize how music is created, Reid acknowledged. With the rapid pace of change, it’s difficult to predict where things will end up in the future. That’s why we need to take these initial steps and learn as the technology evolves.
The Juno Awards are scheduled to take place on March 24, 2024, in Halifax.
Overall, the Juno Awards’ decision to disqualify the controversial deep fake song featuring Drake and The Weeknd reflects the organization’s commitment to recognizing and celebrating human talent in Canadian music. With AI technology advancing rapidly, the introduction of AI Eligibility rules reflects the industry’s need to establish guidelines and adapt to the evolving landscape. As music continues to be shaped by AI, the Juno Awards aims to strike a balance between innovation and authenticity in its recognition of outstanding musical achievements.