Drake, Sexy Red and 'BBL Drizzy' Set Precedent for AI Sample Approval

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On May 24, Sexy Red and Drake teamed up on the track “U My Everything.” And in a surprise — Drake's beef with Kendrick Lamar was apparently over — samples of the track “BBL Drizzy” (originally created using A.I. King Voloniusthen mixed again Metro Boomin) during the Toronto rapper's verse.

It's another unexpected twist on what many are calling the first AI-produced hit, “BBL Drizzy.” Although Metro Boomin's remix went viral, his version never appeared on streaming services. “U My Everything” does, marking the first time an AI-generated sample has appeared on an official release — and raising new legal questions in the process. Bottom line: Does an artist need to clean up a song with an AI-generated sample?

“This model is very, very novel,” he says Donald WoodardA partner at the Atlanta-based music law firm Carter Woodard. “There's nothing like that.” Woodard became the legal representative for Willonius, the comedian and AI enthusiast who produced the original “BBL Drizzy,” after the track went viral and navigated the complex, fast-moving business of viral music. helping Willonius to do Woodard says music publishers have already expressed interest in signing Volonius for his tracks, but so far, the comedian/creator is still only exploring the possibility.

Williones said Billboard that it was “very important” for him to hire the right attorney because his opportunities were growing. “I wanted a lawyer who understood the landscape and understood how historic this moment is,” he says. “I've talked to lawyers who didn't really understand AI, but I mean, we're all just figuring it out.”

Acting on recent guidance from the U.S. Copyright Office, Woodard says the master recording of “BBL Drizzy” is considered “public domain,” meaning anyone can use it royalty-free and it's copyrighted. is not protected by , because Willonius created using the master. AI Music Generator Udio. But because of the villains what Write the lyrics to “BBL Drizzy”, copyright law says he must be credited and paid for the “U My Everything” sample on the publishing side. “We're focusing on the human part that we can control,” says Woodard. “You just need to clean up the human side of it, which is publishing.”

In hip-hop, it's customary to split publishing ownership and royalties 50/50: one half is expected to go to producers, the other to songwriters (who are often also artists). “You My Everything” was produced by Tay Keith, Luh Ron, and Jake Fridkis, so it's likely that the three producers split the release in some way. The other half is what Willonius could qualify for, along with other songwriters Drake and Sexy Red. Woodard says distribution was consolidated “post-release” on Tuesday, May 28, but declined to say what percentage of the publication Willonius will carry. “I will though,” Woodard said with a smile. “He's happy.”

Upon the release of “U My Everything”, Willonius was not listed as a songwriter on Spotify or Genius, both of which list detailed credits but may contain errors. It turns out that the reason for leaving was simple: the contract was not yet done. “We closed the deal in the 24th hour,” jokes Woodard, who adds that he was unaware that “U My Everything” sampled “BBL Drizzy” until the day of its release. . “Sometimes that's how it is.”

It is relatively common to negotiate sample clearances after the release of songs. Some rare cases, such as Travis Scott's epic “Sicko Mode,” which credits nearly 30 authors due to numerous artifacts, can take years. Volonius explains. Billboard When he received news of the release of “You My Everything,” he was “about to enter a meditation retreat” in Chicago and let his lawyer “handle business.”

This sample clearance process raises another question: Should Metro Boomin be credited as well? According to Metro's lawyer, Yvonda Carter, who is also a partner at Carter Woodard, is not a simple answer. She adds that Metro is not pursuing any ownership or royalties for “You My Everything.”

“Somehow people associate Metro with the original version of 'BBL Drizzy,' but he didn't make it,” says Carter. “Until [Drake and Sexyy Red] Only using the original version. [of “BBL Drizzy”]that's the only thing that needs to be cleaned up,” she continues, adding that Metro isn't the creative type “to encroach on what someone else does.”

When Metro's remix dropped on May 5, Carter says he talked to the producer, his manager and his label, Republic Records, about how he could officially release the song and build on its grassroots success. can take advantage of, but then eventually they decide against doing a proper job. Release. “Interestingly, the label's position was if. [Metro’s] Going to exploit that song, put it on DSPs, need to clear it, but no one knew what the clearance would be like because it was obviously AI.

“Metro decided they weren't going to profit from the record because trying to clean it up would be the Wild, Wild West,” she adds. In the end, however, the release of “You My Everything” still threw Carter Woodard into the copyright jungle, forcing him to find a solution for his other client, Vilvinus.

In the future, the two lawyers predict that AI could make their producer clients' jobs much easier, now that AI-produced masters have precedent for royalty-free acquisitions. “It would be cheaper,” says Carter. “Yes, clean and cheap,” says Woodard.

Carter acknowledges that while AI sampling may help some producers with licensing woes, it may harm others, particularly the “relatively new” phenomenon of “loop producers.” “I don't want to belittle their work, but I think they need to worry the most,” she says. [with AI]Carter notes that using producer loops can cost producers 5% to 10% of publishing or more. will start using records produced by so they can potentially bypass the loop producers.”

Songwriter turned publishing executive. Ivan Bogart Told before Billboard He feels that AI can never replace “nostalgic” paradigms (such as Jack Harlow's use of the “glamorous” Fergie in “First Class” or the “big energy” of Mariah Carey's Lito's “Fantasy”), Where the old song influences the new song. More meaning but he said he could see it being a digital alternative to digging through crates for obscure patterns to identify.

While the complications of “U My Everything” are over — and in the process set a new precedent for the new field of AI sampling — legal complications with “BBL Drizzy” continue for Woodard and his client. will Now, they're trying to get the original song back on Spotify after being flagged for removal. “Some guy in Australia walked in and said he made it, not me,” says Vlonius. A Spotify representative confirmed. Billboard That the removal of “BBL Drizzy” was due to a copyright claim. “He said he made that song and put it on SoundCloud 12 years ago, and I'm like, 'How was that possible? Nobody was even saying that.' [BBL] 12 years ago,'' says Vlonius. (Youdio has previously confirmed this. Billboard (that its backend data shows that Willionis created the song on its platform).

“I'm in discussions with them to try to resolve this issue, but unfortunately, the process of dealing with issues like this is not easy,” Woodard says. Reach a resolution and notify Spotify once it's done.

While there is precedent for disqualifying other “public domain” music from earning royalties, so far, given how new this all is, Spotify doesn't have a policy that would prevent AI-generated songs from earning royalties. A Spotify representative says these songs are allowed to remain on the platform as long as AI songs don't conflict with Spotify's platform rules.

Despite the challenges facing “BBL Drizzy,” Woodard says that after 25 years in practice as a music attorney, it's remarkable that he's part of setting a precedent for something new. “The law is still being developed and guidelines are being developed,” says Woodard. “It's exciting that our firm is involved in the conversation, but we're learning as we go.”

This story includes it. BillboardNew Music Technology Newsletter, Machine learning. To subscribe to this and others Billboard Newsletter, click here.

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