MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series in which we highlight a single data point that deserves the attention of the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is supported by Music Group Fivea technology-driven record label, distribution and rights management company.
The use of music created by artificial intelligence has just gone into high gear.
We don’t talk about AI in simple instrumental music productionbut using machine learning to mimic and even recreate human singing – obsoleting the need for a real singer.
MBW first explored this topic last March, in which we to analyse the long-term implications of HYBE investment in (and after the acquisition of) Korean Artificial Intelligence Society Superton – who claims his AI technology can create “a hyper-realistic and expressive voice [not] differs from real humans.
Now, in China, things have reached a higher level: Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) claims to have created and published more than 1,000 titles containing voices created by AI technology that imitate the human voice.
And hold on tight: one of these titles has already surpassed 100 million streams.
In the three months to the end of September, TME deployed what it calls “patented text-to-speech technology”, the Lingyin Engine. This technology, says TME, can “quickly and vividly reproduce singers’ voices to produce original songs of any style and language”.
(“Resurrecting” the voice of a deceased star is something HYBE’s Supertone has won a lot of media attention for last year: the company used its own technology to recreate the voice of South Korean folk superstar Kim Kwang-seok.)
Cussion Pang, Executive Chairman of TME, told analysts earlier today (November 15) that TME used the Lingyin engine to “pay tribute” to Anita Mui by “creating AI code based on her [voice]” for a new song – May you be treated kindly by this world [English transation] – published in support of the New Sunshine Charitable Foundation in China.
“[This track] became the first song by an AI singer to be streamed over 100 million times on the internet.
Cussion Pang, Tencent Music Entertainment
Teresa Teng’s voice was recreated by TME/the Lingyin Engine to lead the track Letter not sent [English translation]released earlier this year to mark the anniversary of the Taiwanese star’s death.
TME also confirmed today (November 15) that in addition to “paying tribute” to the voices of deceased artists via the Lingyin Engine, it has also created “a lineup of AI singers with the voices of trending [i.e currently active] stars like Yang Chaoyue, among others.”
As mentioned, at the end of September, TME said it had created and published more than 1,000 songs with human-style voices made by the Lingyin Engine.
One of those tracks set the standard for popularity: TME’s Cussion Pang confirmed to analysts this morning that a version of a song, which appears to be called Today (English translation), “became the first song by an AI singer to be streamed over 100 million times on the internet”.
Where could all of this go next?
On the one hand, the mind inevitably wanders to the fact that more 100,000 tracks are now uploaded to major global music streaming services every day.
How high could that figure go if unlimited leads now spawn with weird, human-like AI voices?
It’s also worth remembering what Choi Hee-doo, the COO of Supertone – it’s Korea’s AI voice creation platform – said last year, thinking about how the technology could evolve.
“For example, BTS is very busy these days, and it would be a shame if they couldn’t participate in content due to lack of time,” the executive told CNN.
“So if BTS uses our technology to create games or audiobooks or to dub animation…they wouldn’t necessarily have to record [that audio live] in person.”
Interestingly, K-pop company HYBE’s biggest organic revenue driver in Q3 2022 was its Artist ‘Indirect-involvement’ business line, which sees name and likeness of superstar artists such as BTS used in other fields such as games and advertising without requiring the active participation of the group.
HYBE has now doubled its AI-powered voice plans, by to acquire Supertone in October in a $32 million deal.
Indeed, when HYBE confirmed that BTS would be enlisting in the military last month, HYBE CEO Jiwon Park, breaking down HYBE’s strategy without its highest earning act, said the newly acquired AI voice startup by the company “would be a key part of the technological sphere that we aim to create”.
He added, “HYBE plans to unveil new content and services to our fans by combining our content creation capabilities with Supertone’s AI-powered voice and text-to-speech technology.
In addition to HYBE and TME, there are also another one tech and music giant that seems to be betting big on AI: TikTok and its parent company ByteDance.
In May, ByteDance launched Mawf, a machine learning-based music creation app that analyzes incoming audio signals and then “plays back” those signals using what it says are machine learning models of musical instruments. ByteDance also recently launched a music-making app in China called “Sponge Band” according to Technology planet.
This year, as MBW first reported, the company doubled down on its AI-powered music creation ambitions via a wave of recruitment for AI music experts.
TikTok is specifically (and currently) hiring for a Research scientist in speech synthesis in California. TikTok says this person will “lead research to advance science and technology in natural language processing and speech processing (eg, text-to-speech, ASR)”.
They will also “research, model, design, develop, and evaluate new machine learning models and algorithms.”
TikTok says this team is focused “on cutting-edge R&D in areas such as speech and audio, music processing, natural language understanding, and multimodal deep learning.”
Could TikTok – which runs its own artist distribution service SoundOn, and would preparing to expand its music service Resso to more markets – releasing tracks in the near future (just like Tencent Music) either entirely created by AI or with “synthetic AI vocals”?
If so, what would that mean for his relationship with the music industry?
Five Music Group’s repertoire has won Grammy Awards, dozens of RIAA Gold and Platinum certifications, and numerous No. 1 positions on a variety of Billboard charts. His repertoire includes heavy hitters like Bad Bunny, Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, TI, Sean Kingston, Anuel and hundreds more.The music industry around the world