MBW Views is a series of exclusive opinion pieces written by prominent figures in the music industry…with something to say. The following comes from MBW founder Tim Ingham and first appeared as a leader in the latest issue of MBW’s premium quarterly sister publication, Music business in the UKwhich is out now.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in the music industry?
For me, it must probably be up there: it’s Midem 2011 or 2012, and my official enlistment in this profession is still relatively recent. I am invited to lunch on La Croisette by Martin Mills. (If you don’t know who Martin is, Google him; just say he’s someone. Certainly someone a then-inexperienced music industry journalist would do well to impress.)
I sit outside with Martin in Cannes.
The sun is peeking out, though it’s early in the year, and we’re delving into musical business matters of various shades of sophistication.
I’ve done my homework, the conversational ping-pong is hitting a decent pace, and I don’t disgrace myself in front of an individual who I’ve been warned is “one of the music industry’s ‘thinkers'” .
Then, catastrophe: while we are chatting while looking at the Mediterranean, a waiter wanders towards us. He asks, in an accent as thick as I’m about to feel: ” You chose ? »
Oh, buddy. Martin responds for what feels like 15 minutes in impeccable French (with impressive Gallic intonation). I detect that he is ordering accompaniments, perhaps probing where the ingredients are coming from; he even raises a polite chuckle from our waiter, who then turns his attention to me. Me. An individual known in 2023 television advertising as “Gravalax dude”.
I mumble “beef” and bluster the rest – nodding and “yes” – pushing my way through the ordeal. But the waiter knows; Martin knows it: they are in the presence of a unilingual moron.
This sweaty palm experience came back to me recently when I read some mind-blowing news from HYBE Corporation, the Korean music company behind BTS.
It was, in my opinion, the most significant musical x technological history for quite some time: on May 15, fast business reported that using AI technology (that old thing), HYBE convincingly manipulated the voice of an artist called Midnatt (aka Lee Hyun), for one track, Masquerade, on which Lee had sung in Korean. What is HYBE TO DO in Lee’s voice? “Translates” them to sound like Lee’s natural voice – but in six different languages.
Hey presto, as the Italians probably say: Six different versions of Masquerade were released on the first day, each in the language of its target audience: Korean, English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese. All sounded like Lee, thanks to the magic of an AI voice replication platform, Supertone, which HYBE acquired for $32 million in 2022.
Media coverage of HYBE and Lee’s innovation has been somewhat distracted by the fact that Midnatt is a “virtual artist.” Instead, the headlines should have focused on what Supertone’s breakthrough technology could mean for the future of the recording industry.
“(My) goal has always been to reach a global audience,” Lee said. fast business. “Overcoming language barriers would be the first step on this journey.” Smart cookie.
So two things: (I) If I’m an ambitious young artist in 2023, I sign with a record label that offers me both global reach and technological innovation that gives me an edge over the competition. So mark it down in your notebooks, we should all keep a close eye on HYBE and how it fares in its quest to compete with the big labels on a global scale; (ii) I keep hearing that the rise of pop music in various languages, from various parts of the world, is a growing threat to the international dominance of “Anglo-American” hits. Question: Why does this “Anglo” music, whether from British or American artists, have to be released in one language? And if not, doesn’t that make a difference?
In a globalized music market, even a linguistic idiot like me can now rely on technology to overcome this historical obstacle. In the best possible way, the world just received smaller.
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