Capitol Records Cancels Deal With Synthetic Rapper FN Meka Two Weeks After Signing


Capitol Records has canceled its recording contract with synthetic rapper FN Meka just weeks after signing the self-styled augmented reality artist and his more than 10 million TikTok followers to the label. Controversies immediately erupted over what some called a stereotypical and offensive look and backstory for the AI ​​performer, compounded by complaints about the legitimate origin and ownership of tracks attributed to FN Meka. Capitol Records’ parent company, Capitol Music Group, quickly pulled the plug, leaving a cautionary tale for future synthetic media stars and the 10 million followers of a TikTok account with no videos to watch.

Merger of FN Meka

FN Meka was created and named for the AI ​​Factory New label, founded by Brandon Le. Singer Anthony Martini, who co-created FN Meka, has left Factory New following the cancellation of the recording contract. Last week. The rapper, seen above, performed songs that were allegedly generated at least in part by AI. However, the recording contract signing prompted rapper Kyle the Hooligan to issue a counterclaim that he both wrote and performed FN Meka’s first three songs and helped create the background character in exchange for an equity he never received. But Factory New would not be off the hook even if it can refute this claim in court. The company faced a simultaneous campaign from activists and groups like Industry Blackout, calling FN Meka a crude stereotype in appearance and concept. The digital rapper evokes a time in prison and uses the N-word, while his overall aesthetic evokes what activists call a kind of “digital blackface”.

“CMG has severed ties with the FN Meka project, effective immediately. We sincerely apologize to the black community for our insensitivity to signing on to this project without asking enough questions about fairness and the creative process behind it,” Capitol explained in announcing the end of the arrangement. “We thank those who have provided us with constructive feedback over the past two days – your input has been invaluable as we have made the decision to end our association with the project.”

Synthetic stars

The dramatic and sudden collapse of FN Meka does not spell the end of future synthetic media stars. Kyle the Hooligan hasn’t claimed all of the digital artist’s songs, which may indeed turn out to be written by an AI engine like the one built by LyricStudio. The visual avatar is certainly synthetic, however much offense it causes. Gaining 10 million followers on TikTok is no small feat, and the fact that the company didn’t delete the account, but just deleted the videos, could mean it doesn’t want to lose that audience. That’s why TikTok quickly replaced its AI voice after being sued last year for allegedly employing a voice actor’s artificial voice without proper contracts or payment. These debates need to be resolved by the industry before the next FN Meka can actually release an album with a major label, but it won’t happen overnight or without a lot of arguments.

“The custody of synthetic beings of all kinds is likely to become a more contentious issue,” said Voicebot founder Bret Kinsella. Explain on its new Synthedia Substack. “Even when rights are clear, there is the question of guilt when things go wrong.”

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