Virtual influencers, deepfakes, and debates: AI makes its mark on TikTok

Blog Author
Claire Cohen
September 14, 2023
1:40 pm

AI is currently all anyone is talking about, and we’re giving into the hype. We're breaking down how AI has influenced the music, creators, and content we’re seeing on TikTok.


Even if you don’t follow AI or even TikTok, you’ve probably heard of the famous “Heart on My Sleeve,” saga, where creator @ghostwriter977 used Drake and The Weeknd deepfakes to create a new song by the two artists. While the song was removed from TikTok, @ghostwriter977 gained over 100K in the two weeks since they released the song.

While original songs featuring deepfake Drake make major headlines, perhaps the most popular AI songs are AI covers, which feature deepfaked versions of artists like Michael Jackson or Harry Styles covering other tracks. Some of these most popular ai covers include deepfake Rihanna covering “Starboy” by The Weeknd, deepfake Freddie Mercury singing Imagine Dragons’ “Believer,” and AI Nicki Minaj covering “God is a Woman” by Ariana Grande.  Many accounts like @ai.cover and @thekasimsyed are specifically dedicated to generating AI covers and are garnering tens of thousands of followers. 

The Stats:

  • #aicover has 414M views and grew by 77% in the past week (up 172M)
  • #airemix has 8.3M views and 664K likes
  • #aicoversongs has 10.9M views and 806K likes
  • @ai.cover has 18.8K followers and 333K views per video
  • @officialai_covers has 27K followers and 226K views per video


While AI influencers aren’t new to TikTok, they’re growing in 2023 in a major way. One of the first AI influencers was Lil Miquela, a “19-year-old robot in LA” who first started posting on Instagram back in 2016. Now Miquela has 3.6M TikTok followers, racks up 1.4M views per video, and brings in about $10M per year via brand partnerships. It’s easy to see why virtual influencers are so appealing to investors — they stay young forever and can be completely controlled by their team. Unsurprisingly, many record labels and gaming companies have started launching their own AI influencers on TikTok. 

One of the most popular recent breakout AI influencers is Polar, a musician with 1.8M followers who averages 600K views per video and 6.6K UGC videos leveraging her music. Sony Music Japan is leaning into the power of K-Pop stans with Apoki, a virtual k-pop star with 4.5M TikTok followers and 169 views per video. Kakao launched a full blow virtual k-pop girl group with MAVE, whose following is up more than 1,000% since the start of the year. They’re one of the trendiest AI influencers this year with 423M views on #mave and 444M views on their music.

At 3.6M TikTok followers, Lil Miquela is one of the most, if not the most popular virtual creators.

While the rise of AI influencers is exciting, they don’t come without controversy. Many Creators have flagged that: 

❗️AI influencers (whose proportions often couldn’t physically exist in real life) create an unrealistic beauty standard for people to live up to  

❗️While many AI influencers like Shudu are people of color, they are mostly managed by non-diverse teams, creating a new layer of cultural appropriation

❗️Many of these AI influencers are so life-like, they’re nearly impossible to recognize as non-human. This could lead to misleading creator partnerships, as we know AI can’t actually try on clothes or wear makeup. 


Most content on TikTok about AI seems to fall into two camps — AI alarmists and AI opportunists: 

🚨 AI alarmists warn followers about the dangers of AI, from scams that leverage AI voice technology to the threat of AI replacing jobs held by humans. 

💰 AI opportunists want to take advantage of every opportunity AI presents by sharing the most helpful AI tools, hacks, and prompts followers can leverage to make their lives easier and make extra cash.

So what does all this mean? Our key takeaways

1️. We will likely consume more and more AI-generated content on TikTok. From deepfake music to virtual influencers, this genre of non-human made content seems poised to continue to grow rapidly.

2. There still, however, will be pushback. As the amount of AI TikTok content increases, the conversations about the legality and ethics of this very content will likely intensify.

3. TikTok will continue to be a major debate hall. Whether you're subscribed to GPT-4 or are building an emergency bunker in your basement, there's a community for you on TikTok. #AI has grown 101% this year alone, and there's no sign of a slowdown.

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