Teenage influencer Noonuri has 400,000 followers on Instagram and has appeared in fashion campaigns for Dior, Balenciaga and Valentino. Currently, she has a recording contract with Warner Music and has released her first single.
Those who don’t know about Noonouri may wonder why I write about this. However, a first for Warner is the fact that Noo-Noori does not exist, she is an avatar from the Metaverse, and her voice was created by artificial intelligence (AI).
You can watch the video here. For a music company like Warner, it’s easy to see the appeal. Created by artist Joerg Zuber, his Noonoouri never gets tired from touring or promoting his music, and he can change his style in seconds to match the changing trends of his teenage years. And even if she reaches superstar status, she won’t start making diva-like demands or ask for a huge salary increase.
Noonori has remained largely silent since her career began in 2018, but now fans can hear her sing for the first time. This voice was created by recording a real human singer and using AI to create a unique voice for the virtual performer.
More specifically, the technology involved is generative AI. This is a class of AI algorithms that can take data and use it to create something new. This is in the form of AI-enhanced tools that took the world by storm in 2023, such as ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion. Only here, it is used not to create words or pictures, but to create singing voices.
Generative AI tools for creating text and images are widely available, but applications are emerging that can be used for more difficult tasks, such as creating videos and music. Warner and Nounouri’s team do not appear to have publicly stated what technology they used. It could be something publicly available, or it could be that you developed and trained your own AI algorithm for this task.
On the other hand, the songs themselves are created by humans. They do not appear to be credited, but Warner reportedly said they would be paid royalties like any other songwriter. German producer and DJ Alle Farben is also featured.
according to telegraph paperRoyalties are split 50-50 between Farben, Warner, and the producers.
To me, this is a natural progression of trends that have been flowing in the music world for a while. AI is routinely used to filter images and create video effects, and singers use Autotune to algorithmically enhance or distort their voices.
Most of us are aware that when we watch a music video, it is very likely that it contains elements that are different from reality.
Here we have an artist who isn’t just completely computer-generated. Her voice is completely her own and not simply dubbed by a human actor.
Noonoouri is one of 35 virtual influencers to have their Instagram account marked with a verified blue check mark. What’s interesting to me is that virtual celebrities and influencers are becoming increasingly accepted as an everyday part of the digital environment, perhaps especially by the younger generation.
the study These characters have been found to help brands, on average, achieve higher engagement rates compared to campaigns where human influencers are used.
However, there are real concerns among musicians that the emergence of virtual artists and performers will make it harder to make a living.
In the UK, the Musicians’ Union lobbied Parliament for legislation to protect musicians’ copyrights. They want the right to be compensated if their work is used to train AI algorithms, and the right to block its use in the first place.
It is also interesting that Noonuri is touted to be politically active. She has spoken out on issues such as veganism, animal cruelty, anti-racism, and LGBT rights.
This raises the question whether it is possible for computer-generated avatars to be so effective. Can she take careful actions to further the causes she claims are close to her digital heart?
Does her effectiveness extend to decisions about the companies and brands she associates with in her role as an influencer? Or does she simply use lip service to project the image creators want their fans to see? Are you just paying for a service?
From what I’ve seen so far, these questions have very few answers. But one thing is for sure: the “virtual influencer” phenomenon is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
An entire generation that was ignorant of the world before the Internet is now coming of age. For them, the boundaries between the virtual online world and the physical real world are much less clear than for those born before the beginning of this century.
Noonuri may have found her voice, but what will be really interesting will be the day she finds her personality. It seems inevitable that one day she will be able to make her own decisions about her career and musical style, independent of her creators and record label.
In the meantime, research shows that Gen Z and beyond are just as happy to accept fashion and lifestyle advice from AI as they are from human influencers. I believe we can expect to see more Nunooli.