BTS Manager Group Buys Synthetic Voice Startup Supertone for $31.5M
K-pop management giant Hybe, who counts BTS and other major acts among its clients, has acquired synthetic voice startup Supertone for about $31.5 million. Hybe, formerly Big Hit Entertainment, spent approximately $3.6 million for a large stake in Supertone, but apparently sees enough value in its realistic recreation of human voices to snap up the rest of the company’s stock.
Supertone’s synthetic singing voices are known for bringing new life to deceased Korean music stars. Its virtual recreation of folk singer Kim Kwang-seok garnered a lot of attention for the company in a show about AI competing with humans in different contests. Unlike standard text-to-speech engines, Supertone’s ‘singing voice synthesis’ tech is designed to mimic a singer’s style and match any instrumentation or rhythm added to the track. It can even translate between voices as it did recently when it replicated Korean female singer IU’s voice to perform with male singer Yim Jae-beom’s style.
The flexibility of its platform and demand for musical entertainment beyond any living singer’s capacity likely paved the way to the acquisition. That’s before considering how those voices might be licensed for the metaverse, video games, and other synthetic media venues. The AI production separates Supertone from manual adjustments like how the new Selena album is supposed to age up the pop star’s voice. A better comparison might be Aloe Blacc’s multilingual cover of Wake Me Up or Respeecher’s contribution to the synthetic Elvis submitted by Metaphysic for the most recent season of America’s Got Talent.
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