Big Hit Entertainment puts money into artificial intelligence.
The company behind K-Pop Megastars BTS has announced it will invest KRW 4 billion (approximately $ 3.6 million) in a Korea-based artificial intelligence company called Supertone.
Supertone was founded last year and claims to create “a hyper-realistic and expressive voice that [is not] distinguishable from real people ”.
Could Supertone soon be creating “hyper-realistic and expressive” clone voices for BTS members – so that big hit BTS vocals (or more likely BTS annotated ads, video games, etc.) can be recorded without the band even in the room?
The evidence suggests that this is not beyond possibilities.
Supertone made headlines around the world last month for “reviving” the voice of South Korean folk superstar Kim Kwang-seok with its Singing Voice Synthesis (SVS) technology.
Kim Kwang-seok’s recreated vocals premiered on the Korean television show Competition of the Century: AI vs Human.
Supertone’s chief operating officer Choi Hee-doo told CNN that the company’s technology learned 100 songs from 20 singers to refine its style, and then 10 specific songs from Kim Kwang-seok.
Choi Hee-doo claimed that Supertone’s technology was now able to mimic the artist’s voice well enough to pretend to be real.
Choi Hee-doo went on to explain that Supertone’s technology can also be used to create content for living artists.
The hypothetical example he gave last month may speak volumes about why Big Hit just pumped millions of dollars into his company.
“If BTS were to use our technology to create games or audio books, for example, or to transfer an animation, they wouldn’t necessarily have to record in person.”
Choi Hee-doo, Supertone (speaking in January)
“For example, BTS is very busy these days and it would be unfortunate if they were unable to attend any content due to lack of time,” Choi Hee-doo told CNN.
He added, “If BTS were to use our technology to create games or audiobooks, for example, or dubbing an animation, they wouldn’t necessarily have to record in person.”
Interestingly, Big Hit had previously named the artist indirect involvement business as the key to good development during the pandemic last year. Which basically means “things that make money from the artist’s brand / likeness without the actual artist showing up”.
A good example of Big Hit’s artist indirect business are the ‘TinyTAN’ cartoon character versions of the seven BTS members who debuted during their record breaking online concert ‘Bang Bang Con The Live’ in June.
At the company’s corporate briefing in August, Lenzo Seokjun Yoon, Global CEO of Big Hit said: “In challenging times when artists cannot perform offline, we can offer our fans a completely new experience with artist indirect involvement businesses. ”
There are obviously a number of ethical issues with using artificial intelligence to restore artists’ voices whether they are alive or not. Supertone states on its website that “we were also very concerned about the problems that can arise when this technology is used for the wrong purpose”.
The company offers assurances that it “will never monetize a synthetic voice without the permission of the law[s] Owner “and further that” non-commercial research is limited to those who advertise or who have passed away “.
“We look forward to the synergy between Big Hit with strong intellectual property and Supertone with technology.”
Park Ji Won, great success
Big Hit Headquarters Park CEO Ji Won said, “We look forward to the synergy between Big Hit with strong intellectual property and Supertone with technology.
“With the two companies working closely together, we will work hard to create digital content that can comfort and warm fans’ hearts.”
“We are excited to partner with Big Hit Entertainment, a leader in the global entertainment market.”
Lee Kyo Gu, Superton
Supertone’s Lee Kyo Gu added, “We are excited to partner with Big Hit Entertainment, a leader in the global entertainment market.
“We will accelerate the globalization of Supertone’s AI technology by partnering with Big Hit and going even further to build a bridge for Korean companies to stay ahead in the global digital content production market.”
According to Supertone, the system collects speech samples and then trains the AI system to recreate a voice for a range of different uses.
These applications include: (i) producing commercial content that “helps you relive your favorite legends”; (ii) artists and repertoire that enable you to “find a voice that fits your work”; (iii) and Virtual Celeb, which allows you to “get a whole new voice with no license fees”
The company’s website states that voice data “will never be made available to the public and will only be used for model training purposes”.
It adds that “for security reasons, watermarking and speech modulation technologies are applied and strictly managed with the minimum level of access”.
“Supertone’s Speech Synthesis and Clone Neural Network was developed through long-term original research and has the world’s best hyper-realistic quality.”
Once the raw material is collected, the audio is enhanced using Supertone’s “high quality” source separation technology.
“Then we make music or text annotations with our music / audio content production experts,” says the company’s website.
The next step in restoring a lifelike voice, Supertone explains, is for the system to “use heavily processed training data” and then “train a neural network” with a “high-performance computer server.”
“Supertone speech synthesis and neural network cloning were developed through long-term original research and offer the best hyper-realistic quality in the world,” the company adds.
Big Hit generated KRW 796.3 billion (approximately $ 676 million) in the twelve months of 2020, according to new documents filed in Korea and reviewed by MBW this week.
This meant Big Hit, which was listed on the Korean Stock Exchange in October, increased its annual sales 36% year over year from 2019.Music business worldwide