Will Artificial Intelligence Take Over K-Pop? Human composers worry that this will happen. Here’s why

The project was led by interactive media arm Hybe IM, and AI audio technology startup Supertone. Hybe bought Supertone for 45 billion won (US$36.5 million) in January.

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We tried to use artificial intelligence without distorting the voice and message of our artists, Hybe IM CEO Chang Woo-yong said in May, adding that the company plans to collaborate with other artists under the Hybes roof in the future.

No less, K-pop powerhouse SM Entertainment hosts A-list acts such as NCT and aspa, has also used artificial intelligence. In 2024, the company plans to unveil a virtual reader produced by artificial intelligence called Naevis.

Naevis is already a familiar name to most K-pop fans, as she has often been featured in promotional content for girl group Aespas. Although details are still being kept under wraps, former SM CEO Lee Seung-soo hinted that the label is working hard to make Naevis look flawless in terms of movement, voice, and communication skills.

SM first introduced Aespa in 2020, which consists of four human members Karina, Winter, Giselle, and Ningning. and their digital avatars created by artificial intelligence. At her first solo concert in February, Aespa brought her peers to the LED screen and danced their way through songs like Girls (2022) and Black Mamba (2020).
Nowadays, some concerts do not feature human artists, as is the case with the virtual girl group Eternity, also known as Iiterniti. The work of 11 pieces, which debuted with the single Im Real in 2021held his first solo concert in South Korea in October.

Music critic Kim Dohyun says virtual idols will rise. Currently, many of them still stick to the K-pop system and perform songs written by K-pop songwriters. But if they use more artificial intelligence technology in their creative process of music, they will probably make another breakthrough.

A scene from the virtual girl group Eternitys’ October concert. Photo: by Pulse 9

The number of AI composers that can produce music in just a few minutes has increased, and although critics note that the quality is still not comparable to that of humans, they are learning fast.

Music critic Kim noted that songs by Korean AI composers seem to need more digging into melodies, progressions, and lyrics. But as Google’s AI-powered text-to-music model, Music LM, shows, the technology is growing overseas at a rapid pace and can now produce music of a specific style or mood. slow

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Artificial intelligence is an unwelcome guest for some human composers.

The Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA), a non-profit copyright collective for musical works with more than 47,000 members nationwide, claims that artificial intelligence could disrupt the music industry.

A KOMCA official said that many people prefer AI-generated songs because they are often free to use. Given that AI songwriters can produce music so quickly and without major limitations, it’s hard for their human counterparts to compete with them.

If artificial intelligence songwriters reign supreme, they could wreak havoc in the music industry, the association explained.

If AI-produced songs take over the music scene, they could threaten the livelihoods of human composers, who would see a significant drop in income. Since they currently lack legal protection, the dominance of artificial intelligence could deal a significant blow to them, and we may even see technology encroaching on the realm of culture.

Cho Ga-yul is the president of the Korea Music Copyright Association. Photo: YouTube/KOMCA

As AI studies large music databases, it can infringe on the copyrights of composers who wrote the original songs, the KOMCA official said.

We also don’t have clear criteria for deciding whether an AI has committed plagiarism, which is why we think its developers should be required to state which songs they used as training data. These people should give copyright holders the fair compensation they deserve.

There is another important issue: AI composers receive no music royalties, as current copyright law only recognizes human works as copyrightable material.

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But what if AI works with a human partner? KOMCA believes that it can create another dispute about copyright ownership, given that there is no law on such matters.

“We need more copyright laws for AI-generated songs,” noted music critic Kim. And now it’s time to bring this issue to the negotiating table. Since we don’t have many references inside and outside, we have to carefully examine different cases first to arrive at suitable solutions.

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