Recording Academy CEO, Harvey Mason, Jr., now says that Ghostwriter’s AI-generated song “heart on my sleeve,” is not eligible for a Grammy award, walking back his previous statements that the song is “absolutely eligible [for a Grammy] because it was written by a human.”

“heart on my sleeve,” written by anonymous artist, Ghostwriter, went viral earlier this year due to its AI-generated vocals mimicking Drake and the Weeknd.  Although the track was subsequently pulled from streaming platforms, Ghostwriter submitted it for consideration in the 2024 Grammy’s Best Rap Song and Song of the Year categories.  Notably, both of these categories award the writer of the song and not necessarily the artist recording the song.  In explaining why this song is not Grammy eligible, Mason said “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.”

The Recording Academy’s official rule on generative artificial intelligence states: “Only human creators are eligible to be submitted for consideration for, nominated for, or win a GRAMMY Award. A work that contains no human authorship is not eligible in any Categories."  The rule then adds that "a work that features elements of A.I. material (i.e., material generated by the use of artificial intelligence technology) is eligible in applicable Categories," and continues on to describe just how much "human authorship" is required for the submitted work to qualify for a Grammy (hint: it's "more than de minimis").  If this language sounds familiar, it could be because a federal district court recently held that “human authorship” is a necessary element for copyright registration, limiting how copyright protections apply to AI-generated works. 

"heart on my sleeve" seemingly met the "human authorship" threshold laid out in the Grammy's rule, yet Mason's language adds an additional layer to the dynamically evolving guidelines around AI by exemplifying what can happen when a work created using technology does not fit neatly into existing frameworks.  Ghostwriter's submission of a song using AI-generated vocals serves as a reminder for artists to be mindful of the legal protections afforded to their work and raises further questions regarding whether and to what extent creative works using artificial intelligence tools can fit into the current legal landscape. 

See the full “66th GRAMMY AWARDS Rules and Guidelines” here.