- Artificial Intelligence
What’s really going on with ‘Ghostwriter’ and the AI Drake song?
Either the great copyright battle pitting the record industry against generative artificial intelligence has begun or someone’s clout-chasing ai headlines..
By Mia Sato and Richard Lawler
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The generative AI music hype train only needed about 48 hours to go from “oh, that’s interesting” to full Balenciaga pope territory, and while it’s clear someone is using the technology to run a scheme, we’re still not sure who it is.
Here’s the short version:
- Someone made an AI-generated Drake voice rapping an Ice Spice track, to which Drake posts on Instagram, “This is the final straw AI.”
- The same weekend, an unknown TikTok user, @ghostwriter977 , goes viral for an AI-generated Drake song featuring The Weeknd. The lyrics are apparently Ghostwriter’s, but the voices are unmistakable. There’s also a Metro Boomin tag in the song, though, as far as we know, he didn’t produce it. Nobody knows who Ghostwriter is, but the song, “Heart on My Sleeve,” racks up millions of views and streams. Again, this was a new account that instantly blew up. Shady!
- “Heart on My Sleeve” is just starting to gain momentum when it disappears from Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services Monday evening, but Universal Music Group will not confirm that it sent takedowns to those services. Ghostwriter may have been taking them down themselves to make it seem like the lawyers were involved.
- Similarly, Ghostwriter starts deleting TikTok videos, including their most viral posts, but the track remains on TikTok.
- Ghostwriter has been pushing listeners toward a page asking for a phone number to “send you the Drake AI song, and a new link if they take it down.” Nobody knows what the deal is with the company running the page ( update : its CEO claims it’s not behind Ghostwriter), but it’s crypto-adjacent and specializes in mass texting.
- The original YouTube link is taken down with a message reading, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Universal Music Group” left in its place. Copies of the song are still all over YouTube, though. Ghostwriter uploads another version today; it’s still up as of this writing.
- The real Drake, who was just posting angrily about AI Drake covering Ice Spice, says nothing.
Ghostwriter’s come-up is strange even for viral TikTok standards. “Heart on My Sleeve” could be a fluky viral hit, a sloppy stunt by a crypto-adjacent startup, a revenge prank by Drake himself, or the beginning of the legal battle over AI-generated work that is flooding the internet. Maybe a combination. Whatever it is, something weird is going on, and it’s important to figure out what before racing to make pronouncements about AI and the future of music. (Which, basically everyone is already trying to do.)
So who created it, and why? Let’s run down the suspects.
Drake or Universal Music Group. The style-hopping artist has maintained his profile by always being on top of the latest trends that are bubbling up, and nothing has been hotter in the last couple of months than AI.
The easiest way for someone to make an “artificial intelligence” version of Drake is to be Drake — it wouldn’t take a lot of algorithmic tuning to make this one work. We asked Universal about the situation, and their response was... curious, to say the least.
James Murtagh-Hopkins, senior vice president of communications at Universal Music Group, said:
UMG’s success has been, in part, due to embracing new technology and putting it to work for our artists–as we have been doing with our own innovation around AI for some time already. With that said, however, the training of generative AI using our artists’ music (which represents both a breach of our agreements and a violation of copyright law) as well as the availability of infringing content created with generative AI on DSPs, begs the question as to which side of history all stakeholders in the music ecosystem want to be on: the side of artists, fans and human creative expression, or on the side of deep fakes, fraud and denying artists their due compensation. These instances demonstrate why platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists. We’re encouraged by the engagement of our platform partners on these issues–as they recognize they need to be part of the solution.
If you understand what that means, then you’re way ahead of us. Stranger still, when we asked why the streams were taken down, Universal was able to send us a link to a freshly reposted version of the song with just 41 views. It’s almost like they know who posted it.
Ghostwriter977. An industry wannabe of some sort who just wants to be recognized for their ability to write and perform music that sounds like it could be from some of the most popular artists alive. In a TikTok video showing an iPhone screen recording, Ghostwriter happens to get a text from “rob (attorney)” reading, “Offer in from republic,” presumably the record label. Sure.
Crypto / AI hustle spam. The least satisfying and yet still plausible explanation is that the “viral” song and all of the attention paid to it is all created to hype up the link in Ghostwriter’s bio. The person or people behind this stunt chose to highlight Laylo, a promotional service that’s supposed to notify an artist’s fans whenever they release new music, go on tour, etc.
Such a small service is an odd choice if the source is a big label trying to drum up hype or an independent creator trying to make it big. But if you’re a crypto-adjacent mass-texting startup trying to generate some new leads, then all of these other moves start to make more sense. If interest in NFTs is dipping, then just add AI and wait for some attention to find you.
While Laylo’s social media account hyped up speculation it was a secret source for the track, in a statement emailed to The Verge, founder and CEO Alec Ellin writes ““While we’re not behind the Ghostwriter account, we’ve watched in amazement as whoever it is has driven industry speculation, excitement and fear wild. By driving users to a Laylo drop and prioritizing owning their audience from the start, Ghostwriter no longer needs other platforms to have a direct line of communication to thousands of fans waiting for the next release.”
Update April 19th, 3:08PM ET: Added statement from Laylo CEO.
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Ghostwriters are rarely the official “author” of the book, though they are sometimes mentioned as a “co-author” in a book’s Acknowledgments. Some ghostwriters prefer the term "collaborator" as they see the project as a partnership with the author. More often than not, however, they are bound by confidentiality clauses that prevents them from revealing which books they have ghostwritten.
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What if I’ve written most of my book already?
Some ghostwriters will also accept unfinished manuscripts, and work with the author to write the missing parts. Such a job usually requires a mix of developmental editing (to restructure the book) and ghostwriting, and can be just as time-consuming for the ghostwriter as writing the book from the outset.
How to find a ghostwriter
First, you should be looking for someone familiar with the subject of your book, and who is willing to spend the time to get to know your vision for the project.
You also need to find someone whose personality gels with yours, and whose style appeals to you. Get a sense both of their writing style (by reading what they’ve written already) and of their personality (by arranging face-to-face interviews when possible). Communication is absolutely key when reaching out to prospective ghostwriters, to ensure you make the best decision for your book.
It is important that you feel completely safe from the get-go, and ready to entrust the ghostwriter with the inner secrets of your story. Choose someone you’re confident will do your story justice.
What is the process of working with a ghostwriter?
Once you’re set on a ghostwriter, there are several ways to start the collaboration. The most common one is to sit down with them (figuratively, or in real life), and have them record your story. Andrew Crofts, one of the ghostwriters on Reedsy, gives a good idea of what the process should look like:
“In an ideal world you will spend a few days recording before the ghost goes away to write the first draft. You will meet up again, tell them if they are going wrong and put right anything that they have misunderstood, or that you forgot to tell them at the first meetings. They will then produce a final version.”
In reality, the process can of course be longer, and require more back-and-forth before you get to this final version. You can also ask your ghostwriter to share the chapters with you as they write them — though that should be made clear from the start.
In the end, it’s all about keeping an open and honest communication to make sure you are both on the same line.
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Reedsy allows professionals to set their own fees. Once a year, we analyze the data from our marketplace and make it public in a blog post. Click here to learn more .
What clauses should I check for in a ghostwriting contract?
Confidentiality: All standard ghostwriting contracts contain a non-disclosure agreement, preventing the ghostwriter from revealing any information about the book and contract to any third party.
Copyright : The contract should attribute all intellectual property of the ghostwritten book to you (usually pending full payment), unless you intend to make the ghostwriter a “co-author” of the book.
Payment and royalties: When commissioned by publishers or agents, ghostwriters are often remunerated through a fixed fee and a percentage of future royalties from book sales. If you’re an independent author however, it will be nearly impossible to convince a professional ghostwriter to work with you on a royalty-share model (unless you’re a celebrity of course).
Termination clause: Ghostwriting projects can be complex, and don’t always go exactly according to plan. A ghostwriting contract will usually include a provision for more work, as well as a termination clause with a “kill fee” should you decide to part ways.
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Be sure to tell the ghost how hands-on or hands-off you want to be with the project. Are you giving the ghost creative license or asking them to stick close to your detailed plan? It’s important to establish clear boundaries. read more
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A group of kids solves local crimes, capers, and mysteries in their neighborhood, with the help of a ghost who can only communicate through writing and words. A group of kids solves local crimes, capers, and mysteries in their neighborhood, with the help of a ghost who can only communicate through writing and words. A group of kids solves local crimes, capers, and mysteries in their neighborhood, with the help of a ghost who can only communicate through writing and words.
- Pamela Douglas
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- Blaze Berdahl
- Todd Alexander
- 26 User reviews
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- 1 win & 1 nomination
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- Trivia According to Blaze Berdahl 's (Lenni Frazier), Facebook page, co-star David Lopez (Alex Fernandez) was her first boyfriend.
- Connections Featured in Everything Is Terrible! Presents: The Great Satan (2018)
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March 21 , 2023
The Convergence of AI and Creativity: Introducing Ghostwriter
As games grow bigger in scope, writers are facing the ratcheting challenge of keeping NPCs individually interesting and realistic. How do you keep each interaction with them - especially if there are hundreds of them - distinct? This is where Ghostwriter, an in-house AI tool created by Ubisoft's R&D department, La Forge, comes in.
Ghostwriter isn't replacing the video game writer, but instead, alleviating one of the video game writer's most laborious tasks: writing barks. Ghostwriter effectively generates first drafts of barks - phrases or sounds made by NPCs during a triggered event - which gives scriptwriters more time to polish the narrative elsewhere. Ben Swanson, R&D Scientist at La Forge Montreal, is the creator of Ghostwriter, and remembers the early seeds of it ahead of his presentation of the tech at GDC this year.
The Beginnings of Ghostwriter
Ben's interest in creative applications of Natural Language Processing began while studying his PhD in Computer Science at Brown University, where he took a class with two creative writers from Brown and Rhode Island School of Design on Digital Literature. In this class, Ben was introduced to the idea of creating art using generative models and has since been exploring the possibilities of combining this technology and creative writing. This interest followed him to Google where he worked at Stadia Games and Entertainment in 2019, and then Latitude at AIDungeon, where he furthered his research in machine learning and published a paper on the subject in 2021.
In 2021, Ben became interested in joining Ubisoft, as he was intrigued by a GDC talk from the Watch Dogs team. "I actually saw a talk on the narrative design of Watch Dogs: Legion, and I was very impressed," he explains. "I thought to myself, 'I wish I was working on something like that with teams of professional scriptwriters,' so, I applied."
This fortuitous timing allowed Ben to connect with Ubisoft La Forge who had already been scoping for a solution to some of their technological questions. "It was perfect timing because they wanted someone to do exactly what I wanted to do."
Ben's wish to work with professional and like-minded teams became a reality as he began collaborating with members of the La Forge team in China, whose expertise in UX/UI and web application development resulted in a now operational tool: Ghostwriter.
Ghost of AI Present
Ghostwriter is the result of conversations with narrative designers who revealed a challenge, one that Ben identified could be solved with an AI tool. Crowd chatter and barks are central features of player immersion in games - NPCs speaking to each other, enemy dialogue during combat, or an exchange triggered when entering an area all provide a more realistic world experience and make the player feel like the game around them exists outside of their actions. However, both require time and creative effort from scriptwriters that could be spent on other core plot items. Ghostwriter frees up that time, but still allows the scriptwriters a degree of creative control.
"Rather than writing first draft versions themselves, Ghostwriter lets scriptwriters select and polish the samples generated," Ben explains. This way, the tech is a tool used by the teams to support them in their creative journey, with every interaction and feedback originating from the members who use it.
As a summary of its process, scriptwriters first create a character and a type of interaction or utterance they would like to generate. Ghostwriter then proposes a select number of variations which the scriptwriter can then choose and edit freely to fit their needs. This process uses pairwise comparison as a method of evaluation and improvement. This means that, for each variation generated, Ghostwriter provides two choices which will be compared and chosen by the scriptwriter. Once one is selected, the tool learns from the preferred choice and, after thousands of selections made by humans, it becomes more effective and accurate.
Challenges and Global Support
Teaming up with Ubisoft La Forge with this state-of-the-art tech did not come without challenges. AI in video games is not a new concept, with most associating this technology with NPC behaviors. Yet, this concept of machine learning is restrictive to its actual implications, as the industry now sees a place and need for not just AI tools, but machines that can learn through human feedback. Ben's research and work on Ghostwriter and his collaborations with teams across the globe have resulted in an AI infrastructure at Ubisoft that takes into account this potential, while working hand-in-hand with narrative designers to help kickstart their creative stories and games.
However, working with like-minded teams and getting the tool from conception to Ubisoft was only half the battle, as Ben says the focus has now shifted to supporting adoption by productions. By collaborating closely with scriptwriters, the team can learn their needs in order to better fit the tool into the unique worlds of each game. A tech like Ghostwriter requires scriptwriters to learn how to not only use the tool, but also integrate it in their video game production process.
The team's ambition is to give this AI power to narrative designers, who will be able to eventually create their own AI system themselves, tailored to their own design needs. To do this, they created a user-friendly back-end tool website called Ernestine, which allows anyone to create their own machine learning models used in Ghostwriter. Their hope is that teams consider Ghostwriter before they start their narrative process and create their models with a vision in mind, effectively making the tech an integral part of the production pipeline.
Future of Ghostwriter
Ben is very optimistic about Ghostwriter's later implementation in video games and believes in its role in the future of our games. Through its user-friendly interface and processes and its powerful AI infrastructure, scriptwriters who decide to include the tech in their production will eventually be able to scale up their games, be more ambitious in their narrative designs, all while having full control over their work.
Ben spoke more about this tool at GDC this year with his session titled "Machine Learning Summit: Natural Language Generation for Games Writing" on March 21 in San Francisco.
If you're interested in the future of tech at Ubisoft and want to have an impact like Ben did, you can find our open positions at jobs.ubisoft.com!
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McCain writer says Cindy McCain told of show in 2023, after Meghan McCain says family not 'aware'
The former "View" cohost tells EW that the announcement of the new stage production came as a shock to her and her family, though a writer says he hopes McCain "enjoys it."
Entertainment Weekly's Oscars expert, 'RuPaul's Drag Race' beat reporter, host of 'Quick Drag' Twitter Spaces, and cohost of 'EW's BINGE' podcast. Almost all of the drag content on this site is my fault (you're welcome).
The announcement of a new stage musical bearing the name of John McCain seemingly came as a shock to the late senator's family, though a writer for the Ghost of John McCain production tells EW the politician's widow, Cindy McCain, was contacted about the show in the summer of 2023.
After the Arizona politician's daughter, former View personality and current podcast host Meghan McCain , told EW in a statement via her representative that the McCain family "has not authorized it nor was aware of" the musical and that she "was as surprised as everyone else to see the announcement," playwright Scott Elmegreen tells us via phone that Meghan's mother Cindy was previously contacted by someone close to the project.
Elmegreen says the show was initially devised by Grant Woods, the politician's former congressional chief of staff, who died 2021 and is listed on the show's website as a co-writer. Elmegreen says that Woods' wife, Marlene Galán-Woods, was part of a group of people who urged work to continue on the show, and that she contacted Cindy in mid-2023 about the production — which reportedly dramatizes the long-standing feud between the 2008 GOP presidential nominee and former President Donald Trump .
Heidi Gutman /Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images
"My [composer] Drew Fornarola and I have done our best to bring [Woods'] vision to life, and to write a musical that captures the spirit of John McCain as he lives on in America's zeitgeist," Elmegreen adds in a follow-up email statement about the show, which is also set to be produced by John's former campaign aide, Max Fose. "We look forward to Meghan seeing our show, and we hope that she enjoys it [as] much as we have enjoyed working on it."
EW has reached out to Meghan for further comment, as well as Cindy, Galán-Woods, and Ghost of John McCain production company Quixote for further comment.
According to the musical's official synopsis, the project "is a serious and satirical musical that compares and contrasts the personal and political journeys of two modern-day mavericks and their long-time feud to redefine the American political landscape," as well as their "their ongoing struggle for the White House."
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Sep 11, 2014
What Roman Polanski’s Film & “The Ghost Writer” Says about Ghostwriting
In 2010, Roman Polanski (director of classics like Rosemary’s Baby and Chinatown ) directed a film called The Ghost Writer . If you haven’t seen it, it’s actually a hidden, little gem of a film. Ewan McGregor stars, and delivers quite a good performance as the unnamed ghostwriter (in the opinion of this article, the fact that his character remains unnamed might be a little too clever for its own good). McGregor’s character is hired to ghostwrite former British Prime Minister Adam Lang’s ( Pierce Brosnan ) memoirs, and is drawn into an ever-thickening plot of intrigue, deceit, and murder.
If I Hire a Ghostwriter, Will Things Get Dangerous?
No. Although we can’t guarantee that you won’t be drawn into an international war-crime cover-up filled with espionage and assassination, we feel pretty confident that it won’t happen. Polanski’s film is just that—a film—so it wouldn’t be exciting unless it got a little dangerous and unrealistic. You probably won’t find yourself watching a film about a photographer just doing his job uneventfully, either. If there’s one thing that McGregor’s character doesn’t do in the film, it’s actually write onscreen. He does a quite a bit of meandering through Alexandre Desplat ’s fantastic (if sometimes over-reaching) Hitchockian score and the gorgeous cinematography, some brooding, and a good amount of snooping—but no writing (at least, not until the very end).
How Accurate Is the Film’s Depiction of Memoir Ghostwriting?
Polanski doesn’t completely miss the mark with regard to the ghostwriting process, but he doesn’t quite get all the details, either. Here are some of the differences between the ghostwriting process in the film, and how our ghostwriting process works:
- In the film, McGregor’s character is hired though a publishing agency on a freelance basis and flown to the USA to write for Lang—and the film makes it clear that the two get along about as well as oil and water. If you were to hire a ghostwriter to write your memoirs with us, we would make sure that you and you ghostwriter were a good fit.
- In the film, McGregor’s character signs a non-disclosure agreement…and then breaks it, getting involved in some political espionage along the way. If you hire a ghostwriter with us, she or he will sign a non-disclosure agreement, but we can assure you that it will not be broken. Our ghostwriters are professional, experienced, and concerned with your satisfaction—not espionage.
- In the film, McGregor’s character does a lot of interviewing, investigating, and poking around—and not necessarily with Lang’s permission. Our ghostwriters will cater to your needs, customizing interviewing and researching services to fit your schedule and project. They will certainly not transform into film-noir-style private eyes.
- In the film, both client and ghostwriter have (without giving it away) not so happy endings. If you hire a ghostwriter with us, we’ll do everything we can to make sure that you are satisfied and happy with your book—from the planning process, to the writing stage, to assisting you with the publication process. We are committed to making sure that your experience is an excellent one.
Learn More about Ghostwriting and Editing
If you’re ready to give up the ghost and finally hire your ghost (as Polanski’s film often terms ghostwriters), contact us for a free consultation. Call Toll Free: 1-844-997-4837 / (844-9-WRITER)
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