Virtual artists are still something of a novelty, but they’re nothing new. The most famous virtual artist in the West – as in, an AI-generated performer – is Lil Miquela, with her 3 million Instagram followers. There’s also FN Meka, the “robot rapper”, who now has nearly 10 million followers on TikTok.
We’ve never before seen a virtual artist sign a deal with a major record label, however… until now. A major record label Whet Records – Warner Music Group’s pan-Asian dance label in China has revealed that their latest signing includes an artist who only exists online. Ha Jiang, known locally as a “virtual idol” – a huge deal in Asia, particularly in China & Japan.
Jon Serbin, the CEO of Warner Music Greater China told MusicBusinessWorldwide, “‘Virtual idols’ are already a huge phenomenon in China, as well as other parts of Asia. They’re attracting big following on social media, particularly Gen-Z fans. People become really engaged with the idols’ daily lives, much like they are with real film stars or models.”
China is pioneering the scene because of the huge size of its market and fans’ keenness to adopt new technologies. During the pandemic, while everyone else is in lockdown, there are no real limits for idols. There’s a very creative escapism going on.