BTS agency Big Hit Entertainment has invested about $3.6 million (four million South Korean won) in Supertone, a creator of AI voice-replication technology and audio-enhancement tools.
Big Hit recently unveiled the multimillion-dollar investment, which totaled approximately $3.57 million based upon the exchange rate at the time of this piece’s writing. The “AI voice” company Supertone intends to put the capital towards expediting the development and rollout of its technology, CEO Kyogu Lee said in a statement.
“We will accelerate the globalization of Supertone’s AI technology and further develop a bridge to help domestic companies maintain their technological advantage in the global digital content production market,” CEO Kyogu Lee relayed in part, per Google Translate.
Interestingly, Big Hit’s CEO of HQ and entertainment, Jiwon Park, acknowledged in a statement of his own that collaborations between Big Hit and Supertone are forthcoming. The point is particularly noteworthy given the unprecedented revenue that BTS continues to rake in – and the fact that Jin, the oldest member of the seven-piece group, will still have to begin his roughly 20-month-long military service in December of 2022.
“We will work together to create digital content that will enhance and impress fans beyond the simple convergence of IP and technology through close collaboration between the two companies,” said Jiwon Park, once again according to a translation from Google.
Also worth mentioning is that Supertone’s digital assets and AI technology appear capable of creating extremely accurate imitations of artists’ singing voices, if a recent video is any indication. In the clip, Supertone recreated the voice of popular South Korean folk-rock singer Kim Kwang Seok, who passed away in 1996.
It took two months to perfect the late musician’s vocals (including “his unique singing, breathing, and vibration,” per the clip), and the final product – an AI-powered rendition of Kim Kwang Jin’s “The Letter” – brought several of the on-scene listeners to tears.
Exactly one year ago, on February 25th, 2020, the Whitney Houston Hologram Tour officially set sail. And though most of the extensive concert series was put on ice due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdown measures, some fans captured video of the earliest-scheduled shows, which took place in Europe.
Reactions to the overarching concept remain mixed, admittedly, but the 16-song set looked and sounded realistic, based upon the available clips. And with this technology as well as artificial intelligence poised to improve moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see the performance-related developments that arrive in the coming months and years.
Separately, Spotify in December patented an AI-driven “spoken words analyzer” that’s designed to classify songs based upon their lyrics and technical characteristics.