In the wake of an interview in which the chief executive of the Recording Academy, Harvey Mason Jr., indicated that the song might be eligible for awards on music's biggest night, Mason clarified the situation in a video posted to social media.
"I have to clear up some of this bad and really inaccurate information that's starting to float around," he said in an Instagram video Friday. "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."
Karwai Tang/WireImage; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Drake and the Weeknd
He continued, "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."
Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Ghostwriter, the musical creator who released the unauthorized track in April, had submitted "Heart on My Sleeve" for Grammys consideration in two categories: Song of the Year and Best Rap Song, both of which are awarded to a song's writers.
Confusion took root after Mason himself told the Times, "As far as the creative side, it's absolutely eligible because it was written by a human."
He went on to note that, to be award-eligible, the song would need to be commercially available. Songs must have "general distribution," which means "the broad release of a recording, available nationwide via brick-and-mortar stores, third-party online retailers, and/or streaming services."
"Heart On My Sleeve" was initially uploaded to streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music. However, it did not last long on those services, getting taken down following a copyright claim by Universal Music Group. Though, as is often the case online, you can't un-ring a bell. Versions of the song are not hard to find on YouTube and social media. Nonetheless, its proliferation on social media is not the same as being commercially available.
"I take this stuff very seriously," Mason said in his Instagram video. "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."
The furor created by confusion over Mason's statements reveals an uneasiness in the music industry about what the future of AI-created music may hold. It's a sentiment very much at the forefront for artists around the world, with AI being one of the hotly debated topics in Hollywood's ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.
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