Warner Music has signed a virtual pop star that was created with artificial intelligence.
Noonoouri, a popular digital avatar, already has over 400,000 followers on Instagram and a contract with IMG Models. Now, the blue-haired virtual influencer released a single titled “Dominoes” after being given a singing voice through an altered recording of a real singer.
“Noonoouri is a long-standing digital character who we’ve signed to a record deal,” said a spokesperson for Warner Music Central Europe in a statement, per The Independent. “She’s not AI generated, though AI assisted tech was used to help create her singing voice… Talented songwriters and musicians wrote and recorded her debut track Dominoes, and we can’t wait for fans to discover it.”
“While the deal is a novelty in the music industry, it is understood that royalties from the debut track will be divided between the record company, a DJ who contributed to the track, and the creator of the character,” reports the Telegraph.
Noonoouri was created by Joerg Zuber, a graphic designer from Germany who owns the creative agency Opium Effect. Zuber told Deutschland.de that he first thought of the teenage fashion model in 2012 and personally created Noonoouri in 2017.
“I bought my first fashion magazine when I was five years old and was immediately fascinated by this world,” said Zuber. “The gloss, the glamour, the creativity. Noonoouri has been in my head ever since that moment. For me, fashion stands for freedom. And that’s what I want Noonoouri to personify.”
“Noonoouri is a role model and a fantasy at the same time,” he added.
Zuber also said he wanted Noonoouri to not be mistaken for a real human being like some AI influencers. In addition to her blue hair, the avatar is known for her manga-style features and large eyes.
“Noonoouri is and will remain a character. I want everyone to realize that at first sight,” said Zuber. “People follow her because she’s different. With her, you can immerse yourself in a dream world.”
Marc Jacobs, Dior and Versace have all worked with Noonoouri as has Kim Kardashian while advertising her makeup line. In the “Dominoes” music video, Noonoouri wears a digital version of Kardashian’s SKIMS shapewear.
Warner Music CEO Robert Kyncl has invested in AI software and apps and dismissed concerns about the long-term impacts of the technology. He told analysts in May that AI could improve efficiency and reduce costs in the music industry.
“We’re 100 percent focused on efficiency. There’s a lot of technology on that front. … We’re 100 percent focused on effectiveness of all of our activities, scale and then a focus on monetization of superfans,” said Kyncl, per The Hollywood Reporter.
“When it comes to generating AI, it needs to be put in proper context. Framing it only as a threat is inaccurate,” he added. “AI is just like any emerging technology. There will be challenges and opportunities. And with a proper expertise, it will be a powerful tool for the music industry.”