According to a report from MBW, a virtual artist in China, Ha Jiang, has signed a major record deal, a first for virtual artists, labels and the wider music industry.
Despite the many protestations regarding making a living as a ‘living producer’ it now appears to be getting that much harder. According to the industry website, Music Business Worldwide, a virtual artist in China, Ha Jiang, has just inked a major record deal.
While virtual artists are nothing new, particularly in Asia, signing a record deal is a new development. It’s almost certain to have a wider impact with speculation that cash strapped and Covid 19 affected labels will look at this development with piqued interest.
On the face of it, the business completed this week is fairly traditional. Whet Records – Warner Music Group‘s pan-Asian dance label in China, this week unveiled six new signings from a broad spectrum of different backgrounds. They include dance music pioneer Mickey Zhang, and one of southeast Asia’s top DJs, 22Bullets but also included Ha Jiang who is known locally as ‘virtual idol’.
‘Virtual idols’ have had a far greater impact in Asia than Europe or the US where they can amass significant fan bases. The most famous AI-generated performer in the west is arguably Lil Miquela, with 3 million Instagram followers. And it’s not just the music, they also keep their fans informed about their lives, their relationships, their interests – even if none of it is actually real.
For producers and DJs, there is likely to be some concern about how this might further impact their careers. With streaming the dominant distribution method of music, there has been significant fightback over the rates of pay and this new trend would refocus those discussions.
When asked what impact this will have on human starters, Jon Serbin, the CEO of Warner Music Greater China and Head of Whet Records elaborated to MBW:
As you know, we just announced the signing of six incredible artists. We’ve got ambitious plans to step-up our signings across Greater China, and invest even more heavily in the phenomenal talent in genres from dance to hip-hop.
And it’s important to say that our projects for ‘virtual idols’ will create opportunities for humans too. We’ll be working with great songwriters, engineers and producers to help create their music.
It’s important to say that our projects for ‘virtual idols’ will create opportunities for humans too. We’ll be working with great songwriters, engineers and producers to help create their music’. Overall, we think ‘virtual idols’ will help fuel the expansion of the Chinese music market.