A major record label wanted to make virtual rapper FN Meka a star. Now the dream has exploded.
For a moment, it seemed like the rapper might make it big from what doesn’t already exist: Recently, Capitol Records, part of Universal, signed FN Meka – a purely virtual character who only lives in digital worlds.
Top TikTok star
At that point, FN Meka was already a mid-size star on TikTok. There, 10 million people watch how the rapper shows his fortune: in his videos, he delivers champagne by tanker, has a Lamborghini toaster and plays with Dior Playstation. His channel was a hilarious parody of influencers and pop stars. However, almost all videos have now been removed from TikTok.
FN Meka songs are a popular trap by dozens. What sets them apart is that they are jointly made by man and machine. The texts and music are based on artificial intelligence. The human producers did the finishing touches. FN Meka’s voice is provided by human.
Pop music from PC
Now, record label FN Meka is back on track after just a few weeks. Because there was criticism of the character, among other things, because the lyrics of racist insults appeared in their songs.
Neither humans nor computers were able to prevent a major error from happening. They had big plans for FN Meka: in the future, all their songs were supposed to be composed and played by computers.
Millions of viewers in Metaverse
Computer generated music was the only secondary goal behind the character. First and foremost, it’s about building a bridge between music and games. Because popular games like “Fortnite” are increasingly becoming so-called metaverses – virtual worlds in which users no longer just play, but shop, communicate, watch movies and listen to music.
In these exceptions, musicians find an audience that they will have a hard time reaching: “You reach a very young audience — that’s 15 to 25 years old,” says Florian Muller. With his company “Software Brauerei” he regularly organizes concerts in the Metaverse “Decentraland”.
Dominic Benz, co-founder of the company adds: “It’s a marketing tool for big artists. We’re mainly talking about games like ‘Minecraft’ or ‘Fortnite’.” Virtual concerts are also interesting for younger artists because they can reach a global audience.
Muller explains that posters can also sell things directly in the Metaverse: “After the concert, for example, there’s a digital T-shirt you can wear in the real world. Or there’s a token you can use to buy an album at a discount.”
The perfect pop star?
The fact that FN Meka exists only digitally brings advantages on the way into the game world, says Benz: “Because the character itself is digital, it offers a lot of possibilities. It’s much easier to iterate or you can play simultaneous performances.”
History of virtual pop stars
Benz suspects that virtual pop stars will soon become a mass phenomenon: “There will be more of them and they will likely be incorporated into games. But purely virtual characters probably won’t become a mass phenomenon.”
An attempt to create an entirely digital pop star at FN Meka failed. But there will definitely be more characters who will keep trying.
SRF Radio 2 Kultur, Cultural News, August 29, 2022, 5:40 pm.
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