Amongst the various use cases for AI in the music business, one of the most headline-grabbing applications of the fast-rising technology has been the replication of the singing voices of deceased musicians.
We’ve been writing about this trend for a few years, for example back in 2021, when now-HYBE-owned Supertone ‘resurrected’ the voice of the late South Korean folk superstar Kim Kwang-seok.
Meanwhile, in November 2022, Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) used patented voice synthesis technology, that it refers to as the Lingyin Engine, to develop synthetic voices of deceased artists including Teresa Teng, and the late Anita Mui.
Now, an artist in Costa Rica called Pedro Capmany has used AI to record a duet with his late father, the legendary Costa Rica rock singer José Capmany, and the track has been released via a major record company-owned distributor.
Described as Costa Rica’s “Father of Rock,” José Capmany tragically passed away in 2001 at the age of 40.
According to the announcement, using AI, “each intonation, inflection, linguistic idiosyncrasy,” and all the “peculiarities” of Jose Capmany’s voice were “carefully modeled to meet the song’s needs, the music producer’s requirements, and the quality demanded by Jose’s fans”.
Pedro Capmany also incorporated a sample from his father José Capmany’s original song La Bella Durmiente into the new track, Volveré (or I Will Be Back).
The track, which you can listen to below, has been released via Warner Music Group‘s ADA Latin.
ADA says that it wanted to ensure that the vocals were “studio ready,” so they worked with Chile-based tech agency, Sonidos Inmersivos.
The team then analyzed what ADA says were “hundreds of hours of interviews, acapellas, songs, live performances, and all available audio data from José Capmany’s career, to faithfully recreate every nuance of his voice and vocal patterns”.
This example of AI being put to use in such a way was cited by WMG CEO Robert Kyncl on Warner’s latest earnings call on Tuesday (August 8).
Kyncl highlighted the release of the track as “one of the first official and professionally AI-generated song[s] featuring a deceased artist”.
He explained further that “every nuance and the pattern” of Jose Capmany’s voice “was modeled using AI and machine learning”.
“The resulting song movingly announces the arrival of Pedro’s son, Jose’s grandson. It also coincides with Jose’s catalog being available on all streaming services for the first time,” said Kyncl.
Kyncl added that WMG is “deeply inspired by our artists’ abilities to embrace and push the boundaries of the latest technology”.
“AI is unquestionably one of the most transformative forces in human history. Nonetheless, this technology shift is more familiar terrain than first meets the eye.”
Robert Kyncl, speaking on WMG’s latest earnings call
Kyncl also pointed to a future where AI could be used for licensed user-generated music content.
“With the right framework in place”, said Kyncl, artificial intelligence “will enable fans to pay their heroes the ultimate compliment through a new level of user-driven content, including new cover versions and mash-ups”.
He added: “AI is unquestionably one of the most transformative forces in human history. Nonetheless, this technology shift is more familiar terrain than first meets the eye. Like many technologies before it, it presents massive opportunities for human creativity and innovation.”
Interestingly, Kyncl’s comments arrived in the same week that a Financial Times report suggested that Universal Music Group and separately Warner Music Group are in talks with Google to potentially license artists’ melodies and voices for songs generated by AI.
The announcement about Pedro Capmany’s new track states, that, as an ADA Latin (Mexico) artist, Capmany “had the advantage of accessing the Warner Music network, where Julián Villalta from the Central America team got in touch with Antonio Munguía, Director of Innovation at Warner Music Latina,” after a respected marketing agency out of Costa Rica called jotabequ helped develop the idea.
The announcement continues: “Given that the family themselves were keen on pursuing this venture and considering that José Capmany’s catalog was also under ADA Latin, obtaining the necessary permissions to proceed was straightforward.”
“It is a very emotional moment in my career, because today, thanks to technology, I was able to fulfill the dream I had all my life… To sing with my father.”
Said Pedro Capmany: “For me, it is a very emotional moment in my career, because today, thanks to technology, I was able to fulfill the dream I had all my life… To sing with my father.
“He died when I was only 13 years old, but through his lyrics I was able to get to know him better and use him as an inspiration to be a musician like he was.
Added Capmany: “Volveré” is a very special song because it fulfills the promise he made to us in one of his songs (La Bella Durmiente) where he says: ‘I will return and bring life’.
“I have the great blessing of becoming a father for the first time soon and this song is also to celebrate that, and somehow share it with my father. The lyrics are a conversation we have when we welcome my son.”
Music Business Worldwide