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The San Francisco-based Authentic enables new virtual music experiences designed to court music fans who want digital and will deliver interactive artists to all connected channels.
Authentic Artists make music in a new way. The company has developed a proprietary, generative, audio-visual production platform that composes and produces fully formed songs performed by virtual artists. This allows Authentic Artists to create original, adaptive musical content.
It could put some real human artists out of work, or at least make them work harder. It’s a sign of the times, as virtual animated streamers like Code Miko have proven to be very popular.
The company said it aims to address both the content requirements of high growth channels and the needs of audiences whose expectations for music and entertainment have shifted dramatically in the digital age.
“We’re inventing a new category of entertainment–not replacing an existing one,” said CEO Chris McGarry in an email to GamesBeat. “We’re not here to make a digital facsimile of what already exists, we’re here to create radically new music-driven art, shared experiences, and play. Our virtual artists are vehicles for creative collaboration at scale in a way that is exciting to artists and will deepen fans’ relationship with music. Our artists will certainly never be human and vice versa. A drum machine, sampler and other production tools are probably better comparisons.”
As evidenced by the enormously popular virtual concerts that took place in Fortnite and Roblox in 2020, lots of people enjoy the blurring of traditional lines between music and gaming, and Authentic Artists wants to offer generative music for these folks.
McGarry said that virtual entertainment is the new cultural center of gravity, as digital natives (or young people) want agency over their worlds. He said, “I saw an opportunity to use new technologies to unleash new forms of musical creativity and experience, to deepen the audience’s relationship with music, to make new art and culture, to have fun. Along the way there were a few key aha moments for me.”
The company has already prototyped 12 virtual artists using its blend of art and science. These include a lofi-loving cyborg and a high-octane, half-iguana DJ, and each real-time creator performs virtual music concerts.
I asked if this platform would put some human musicians or streamers out of work.
“Throughout history, new technologies have triggered new waves of creativity,” McGarry said. “We’re actively engaged with the creative community to help develop our platform and content. Input from incredible creators like Mike Shinoda and Young Guru has been invaluable to not only to our development process, but also to inform how we can best enable other artists. We set up our Machine Arts Lab specifically to support creators who are motivated to explore our creative toolset, and we’ll be sharing more about it in the future.”
He added, “As is the case with any artist team, we are a diverse set of creators: producers, developers, writers, artists, animators and more collaborating in service to our vision of virtual artistry and the audience. Our virtual artists will engage more, not fewer, people in the creative process.”
I also asked McGarry how he came up with the idea for the company.
“A childhood passion for comic books and computer music (I was the proud owner of an alphaSyntauri digital synthesizer) likely planted the seed for Authentic Artists. The Gorillaz converged my interest in music and fantastical characters in a powerful way,” he said. “Early immersive, audio-reactive VR music experiences pointed to new ways of expressing and visualizing music and connecting audiences with it. While I was working for Oculus, the rise of VTubers and avatar-based entertainment sparked visions of what the digitally native artist of the future might look like. I started to wonder what was possible if we let go of trying to transpose music as we knew it into new mediums and really freed ourselves to imagine entirely new ways of making, presenting and sharing music.”
The company’s investors and advisors include OVO Fund, Lupa Systems, Mixi Group, Bill Silva Ventures, Brian Ruder (co-head of global tech at Permira), Chad Hollingsworth (executive at Liberty Media), Craig Donato (executive at Roblox), Liz Hamren (executive of game engineering at Microsoft), Matt Emerman (executive at JioSaavn), Mike Shinoda (cofounder of Linkin Park), and Young Guru (Grammy-winning audio engineer for Jay-Z, Drake, Rihanna, DJ Khaled).
McGarry has previously led music vertical development at Facebook’s Oculus. Audio director Steve Pardo was the lead composer at Harmonix Music Systems (Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Central). Senior AI engineer Blake Wilkey developed the AI platform for Will.i.am’s i.am+. Executive creative director Jeff Nicholas has led creative initiatives for brands and artists like Live Nation, Rihanna, Hulu, Major Lazer, Apple Music, and Lil Wayne.
The company has seven employees, and it isn’t saying how much money it has raised yet.
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