The rapper Jay-Z may have wanted to wipe out Auto-Tune, but perhaps he’s just added fuel to the digital fire.
Auto-Tune, a software package made by Antares Audio Technologies, was designed to allow engineers to correct a singer’s pitch, but with the “wrong” settings it can turn the human voice into something that sounds like a finely-tuned warbling robot. Jay-Z’s latest single, “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune),” rails against the overuse of the program in popular music. The video for the song, which was released a month ago, even shows a stack of Auto-Tune boxes bursting into flames.
It’s not every day that an influential celebrity takes that kind of swipe at a product — much less a piece of software. But despite Jay-Z’s best efforts, Antares says sales are up.
“The Jay-Z controversy is great,” said Marco Alpert, vice president of marketing at Antares. “We couldn’t buy P.R. like this.”
Although Mr. Alpert declined to give specifics, he did say the company had seen a boost in business amid the flurry of recent attention.
Mr. Alpert said Auto-Tune’s move from music studios to viral videos and fast food commercials had been an interesting evolution.
“I think Jay-Z said he saw Auto-Tune used in a Wendy’s commercial, and that pushed him over the edge,” he said, adding that the company was thrilled by the migration of its product into popular culture.
“We make no value judgments on how people use our product,” he said. “It’s a tool to be used by the people who buy it, and we’re happy when consumers find new uses for it.”
One of the earliest examples of Auto-Tune being used to distort a singer’s voice was on Cher’s hit “Believe” in 1998. “We really didn’t foresee that the trend would last as long as it did,” Mr. Alpert said.