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Game changer? K-pop industry leverages AI

By Hong Yoo

Published : June 10, 2024 - 15:46

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Seventeen's music video for Seventeen's music video for "Maestro" (Pledis Entertainment)

The K-pop industry has begun using artificial intelligence in making music videos and songs for K-pop artists in line with technological advancements.

Seventeen, a world-renowned K-pop boy group, for instance, introduced the music video for their latest song, “Maestro,” last month with a scene created by AI.

The music video makes its viewers question who is the real maestro, when the subject responsible for creation is unclear, in a world where virtually everything can be made with AI.

Seventeen's Woozi, who has produced various hit singles for the group, said during a press conference introducing the group’s “17 Is Right Here” album in Seoul last month, that he has experience experimenting with AI while creating music.

“We practiced making songs with AI, as we want to develop along with technology rather than complain about it. Through these experiments, we discovered the strengths and weaknesses of composing music with AI," said Woozi. "We also contemplate how to protect our musical identity in this world where AI can create music," he said.

Aespa's music video for Aespa's music video for "Supernova" (Screenshot from YouTube)

Aespa, a K-pop girl group, also used AI in the music video for their latest song, “Supernova,” the lead track of their first LP released on May 27.

In the music video, there is a close-up scene in which aespa members are singing, with only their mouths moving unnaturally.

“We did not expect such a scene. This got us thinking about AI as these days, cover songs created by AI are popular on social media. But I still think AI cannot perfectly imitate a person’s facial expression or emotions,” said Ningning of aespa during a press conference introducing their first LP in Seoul on May 27.

SM founder and former chief producer Lee Soo-man also spoke about the applications of AI in K-pop during his keynote speech at the General Assembly of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers in Seoul on May 30.

“AI will help K-pop connect with its fans around the world. It’s a convergence of culture and technology that I’ve been talking about for a while now, and it will allow deeper engagement between celebrities and 'prosumers,' or fans,” Lee said.

Midnatt's music video for Midnatt's music video for "Masquerade" (Screenshot from YouTube)

In May 2023, singer Lee Hyun re-debuted as Midnatt, an alter ego created through AI technology, under Hybe.

Midnatt released single "Masquerade," featuring a female voice generated with AI using the male singer's own voice.

The song was also released in six languages -- Korean, English, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish -- using the multilanguage transformation technology of Supertone, a sound AI startup acquired by Hybe in 2021.

AI could be a game changer in the K-pop market, one expert says.

“In the past, the problem with AI-adapted songs was that they could not add hints of emotions, but now they can also do this, enabling the nearly perfect production of AI-adapted albums. As the limitations of the possibilities that can be achieved with AI are decreasing, AI will have a significant impact on the music industry in the future, if not immediately,” said Kim Sung-soo, a culture critic.