READ TIME: 4 MINS
Have you been missing Dean’s voice and want to hear new music? Don’t worry, with the latest AI technology, you can hear him sing any song you want whenever you want! Now, how dystopian does that sound?
The rise of technology has been no surprise within the music industry, with sound FX in beats taking over and voice altering features, such as autotune, enhancing artists’ voices to best fit a beat. But what happens if technology begins to mimic the voice of an artist, to create fake song covers of any song out there?
AI Song Covers
AI song covers have been all the craze on the internet these last few months. Various artists are hearing what they would sound like with their voices on other musician’s tracks. From AI Beenzino covering E SENS’ “What The Hell”, to AI collaborations like Baek Yerin featuring Beenzino on NewJeans’ “Cool with You.”
One person whose voice has appeared a lot has been K R&B prince: DEAN. The 30-year-old singer-songwriter has been absent from the music scene since 2019, only appearing as a feature on artist’s songs such as Tabber's “Honey!” in 2020 and IU’s “Troll” in 2021 to name some.
Many fans have expressed their want to hear new music from DEAN, with many coming up with theories or fandom jokes as to why he is yet to return. One thing that has filled the absence has been the recent trend of using AI technology to curate song covers with any artist of choice. By voice sampling, this technology is able to replicate an artist's voice and they can be heard singing any song of your liking.
Some of the most famous AI covers in Korean music have derived from DEAN’s voice, with each of the covers reaching over 100k views on YouTube. The most famous AI covers of his have derived from NewJeans, with one of the most popular AI covers being “NewJeans” reaching over one million views on YouTube.
Many comments under the video express excitement and acknowledge how well the cover was made, and fans have expressed how eager they are to hear music from DEAN while acknowledging his inactivity online.
“(These are) The people who were tired of waiting for DEAN and made him…And it’s a really great piece of work…)”.
However, a common notion of concern has come from the use of AI covers from the artist’s perspective.
Is AI All That Good From an Artist’s P.O.V?
The problem with AI lies in the likelihood of the musicians. With how eerily similar they sound, an artist can hear themselves in others' songs that they didn’t create or see themselves on. Across the K-music industry as a whole, artists and idols have spoken about this new technology, with the common phrase being said: “What can’t technology do these days?”. Some have embraced their AI covers though like Jeon Somi, who took to TikTok to compare her actual voice to the AI.
An artist’s job and career relies on them to explore their own creativity, further their skills, and embody their own style. What does that mean for them if technology is able to mimic their sound and extract it to implement it onto another artist's work? In order to address AI song covers, people must first start seeing artists as people with livelihoods, and not just musicians who produce art for our own consumption.
There have been many conversations surrounding AI with the increase of song covers being uploaded onto the internet, with the law aspects being a big topic. When interviewed by Harvard Law, Harvard law lecturer Louis Tompros explained that the law side is more complex than what people may think.
“The argument might be that AI training (in terms of training the AI to imitate the voice of another artist) is not something that’s being done to make a copy for commercial purposes; it is instead deliberately transformative and trying to create something new, and there is no direct impact on the market for the original.”
Tompros further explains that as these AI song covers are not inherently being made to create profit, they may not be in violation of the right of publicity. Rather, the people who make the covers train the AI to copy the artist's work (being their voices and vocal styles), the copying in that case could be tried as a copyright infringement.
What Else Can AI Do?
AI song covers aside, the use of AI and technology in the music industry seems to be increasing as a new project under HYBE Entertainment shows them using software to create songs in multiple languages, without the artist actually singing in said languages. The technology is said to mimic accurate multilingual pronunciation as well as tone and delivery, but also change the key in which the artist sang in to present either a masculine or feminine voice.
While technology continues to advance in the music industry, you can’t help but think of the many artists whose creativity shines through, adding their own flavour and sauce to their music. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather wait for the real DEAN to make a comeback over an AI impersonation.