MBW is pretty good with stats. We’re generally not known for being good at A&R.
There is, however, one major label signing that we’ll be glad we spotted soon enough.
In April last year, we told you about a robot rapper called FN Meka. The creator of the Virtual Artist (which we’ll get to later) told us at the time that Meka was created from thousands of data points compiled from video games and social media.
Just over a year later, FN Meka has over 10 million followers on TikTok.
Moreover, he has just been “signed” by one of the most powerful record labels in the world: Capitol Records / Capitol Music Group.
Capitol claims FN Meka, which has over a billion views on TikTok, is the #1 “virtual being” on the video platform, along with the “first AR artist” in the world to sign with a major label.
His first major single, Florida Water – a collaboration with Billboard chart topper Gunna and professional Fortnite player Clix – released today (Friday, August 12).
It was produced by Turbo (Travis Scott, Young Thug, Lil Baby) and produced by DJ Holiday (Gucci Mane, Nicki Minaj).
Ryan Ruden, executive vice president of experiential marketing and business development for Capitol Music Group, told MBW that the project “meets at the intersection of music, technology and gaming culture” and “n is just a glimpse of what’s to come.”
“The song Florida water meets at the intersection of music, technology and gaming culture is just a glimpse of what lies ahead”
Ryan Ruden, Capitol Band
Ruden added, “This latest project with FN Meka and Clix, while a first of its kind, is but one evolution of Capitol Records’ 80-year history of innovation.”
The move is one of Capitol’s boldest to date under the leadership of Michelle Jubelirer, who was named president and CEO of Capitol Music Group in December 2021.
As MBW explained last year, “Technically speaking, FN Meka is voiced by a human. But everything else about her – from her lyrics to the chords and tempo that underpin her music – is AI-based.
Along with the release of Florida water to streaming platforms, Capitol has also signed what it calls “a unique partnership” with royalty-free music startup Slip.stream.
Therefore, Florida water is made available to creators to use music on YouTube and Twitch “without monetization or withdrawal”.
Slip.stream, which recently raised $7.5 million in Series A funding from investors including Sony Music Entertainment, Third Prime and Lightshed Ventures, bills itself as a “secure music platform for creators”.
It was started by entrepreneurs David Carson (founder of Fuse, Heavy.com, New Stand), Dan Demole (founder of Jingle Punks) and Jesse Korwin (CMO of Jingle Punks).
The platform offers a “copyright protected” library of over 100,000 tracks and sound effects, filled with what it says is “real music from real artists”.
In December, music industry veteran Anthony Martini stepped down as CEO of Royalty Exchange and joined Slip.stream as music director and partner.
Martini also happens to be the co-founder of Factory New, the “virtual” record label that first “signed” FN Meka.
In an interview with MBW last year, Martini told us that the company “has developed proprietary AI technology that analyzes certain popular songs from a specific genre and generates recommendations for the various elements of the song’s construction. : lyrical content, chords, melody, tempo, sounds, etc. We then combine these elements to create the song”.
He added: “From now on, a human voice interprets the singing, but we are working on the possibility of a computer creating and interpreting its own words – and even collaborating with other computers as ‘co-authors’. .”
Virtual artists are increasingly intertwined with the world of majors.
Capitol Music Group owner Universal Music Group, for example, has invested in the trend through its Web3 label 22:22, with virtual band NFT KINGSHIP. UMG also signed an extensive global partnership with “avatar technology company” Genies last year to develop avatars and digital wearables for UMG’s roster of artists.
Warner Records also recently entered into a global partnership with K-Pop giant SM Entertainment and “Metaverse Girl Group” girl group aespa, which includes four human members and four virtual counterparts, aespa. Meanwhile, last year, Whet Records – Warner Music Group’s pan-Asian dance label in China, signed a deal for a virtual artist, or “virtual idol”, called Ha Jiang.
Sony Music has also experimented with virtual versions of its real-life artists on gaming platforms like Roblox.
Other prominent players in the virtual artist space include Spirit Bomb, whose virtual artists include Xen, SUBI, and AntiFragile. The music performed by these avatars is created with/by human musicians and producers.
Other successful examples of VR artists can be seen like Lil Miquela, with his 3 million followers on Instagram and hundreds of thousands of monthly listeners on Spotify, as well as the League of Legends K-pop group, K/DA – voiced by humans, but led by avatars.
Commenting on the appeal of investing in the development of virtual artists during his MBW interview last year, Anthony Martini, now Chief Music Strategist and Slip.stream partner, put it this way: “The former model talent search is inefficient and unreliable”.
He added: “It requires spending time browsing the internet, going to shows, going to meetings, spending resources looking for the magic combination of qualities that could result in an act of Super star.”The music industry around the world