Hatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku, the popstar with 100,000 songs who didn’t exist

At just 16 years old, Hatsune Miku has more than 100,000 songs to her name and fills the stadiums. The virtual singer Hatsune Miku is one of the most delusional internet phenomena in Japan: Hatsune Miku’s career is now entirely in the hands of her vast community of fans, who produces her content and helps make it even more famous. Hatsune Miku was one of the most anticipated guests of the 29th edition of the Transmediale.

Hatsune Miku has large eyes missing from the heroines of manga, sharp legs, endless turquoise quilts, and a costume inspired by those worn by Japanese schoolgirls. Her voice? Childish, nasal, robotic. On the stage of the auditorium of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, the extravagant building in the shape of a “pregnant oyster”, as the Berliners call it, which annually hosts the festival dedicated to Transmediale digital arts and cultures and its musical counterpart CTM, Hatsune Miku appears to the public in the form of a hologram.

Hatsune Miku

Summoned by the Japanese and Berlin sound artist Mari Matsutoya, the singer performs some of her kitsch hymns with millimeter choreographies. Entitled Still Be Here, the performance confronts the strangeness of this disembodied show with the testimonies of the designers of Hatsune Miku and its fans, questioning the cult that has been built around this virtual personality. ” Her existence is dependent on her fan community, ” says Mari Matsutoya. What is the reason they had such a large number of recorded notes?”it’s because any person can send them a note to sing.” 

Hatsune Miku Text-to-speech software

According to Japanese dictionary, the meaning of “Hatsune Miku” is “future’s 1st sound”. Hatsune Miku, the one who became a virtual pop star was at the beginning only the digital incarnation of a synthetic voice elaborated from the voice of a Japanese actress of dubbing.

Hatsune Miku

“It was this process of disincarnation of a human voice and reincarnation in the form of a virtual popstar that interested me, and beyond the conception of the female voice in Japan. It must be sharp, high pitched and harmless like the voices heard in call centers or advertisements, “explains the artist. And Hatsune Miku served this purpose.

Marketed from 2007 by the Japanese company Crypton Future Media, which designs synthetic voicebanks, Hatsune Miku was then only one of the many avatars offered to users, a text-to-speech software developed by Yamaha which allows you to create songs using these virtual performers.

More than 2.5 million fans of Hatsune Miku on Facebook

The eternally 16-year-old girl, who is supposed to be 1.58 m tall and weigh 42 kg. The release a few months later of an animation software allowing to create video clips accompanying the recordings crystallized this nascent passion for the virtual diva, which has a repertoire of more than 100,000 titles, mainly J-pop, the name given to Japanese pop. Responding to this craze on the web, the company Crypton Future Media put the original drawings of Hatsune Miku under “creative commons license” from 2012, “to support creative open-source tasks throughout the globe. The explanation behind is, she wants this phenomenon to occur world wide.

Today, Hatsune Miku has more than 2.5 million fans on Facebook, an official channel on YouTube, sells compilations of his most famous titles, and causes hysteria when his hologram gives concerts in 3D around the world.  In 2013, she was the star dressed in Vuitton of an opera presented at the Theater Chatelet, in Paris, and the following year she even performed the first part of the North American tour of the very real pop icon Lady Gaga. She has also become a video game character adored by cosplay fans and she now lends her features and her high-pitched voice to the world of advertising alongside her musical career. Her childish features and her panoply of mini-skirts and black stockings also make her an inexhaustible source.

At a time when the participative and funny internet phenomenon is turning into a pure marketing phenomenon, deconstructing the Hatsune Miku legend seems more than necessary. For Mari Matsutoya, this “perfect star” is only an “empty container in which we project our own fantasies “.

The Japanese avatar has just closed its European tour and is playing in Coachella this year: Hatsune Miku

Hatsune Miku is conquering the world without even existing. This little character is indeed what is called a “virtual vocalist”. “Virtual vocalist ” is the name given to a technology that generates different voices sung from a computer. With the help of software, everyone can therefore appropriate and use this voice as they see fit in songs.

Created in 2007 by Crypton Future Media, the now superstar was originally only an illustration on the box of text-to-speech software that the Japanese company had just put on sale. “Very quickly, it was adopted, interpreted by the users of the software who could in this way give a visible form to their musical creations, and thus share them more easily on the internet”, explains Guillaume Devigne, in charge of international marketing at Crypton Future Media. Anyone, as long as they still have some notions of music, can, therefore, write a song for Hatsune Miku. Hatsune Miku can sing all musical styles like pop, electro, rock, metal, or salsa. The topics covered are very broad; she talks about love, melancholy as much as secret police or… vegetable juice!

Today, Hatsune Miku has over 100,000 songs in her repertoire. There are no albums with her name but we find her on thousands of records by musicians where she appears in featuring. Pharrell Williams also remixed one of her songs (“Last Night, Good Night”) in 2013. Songs are external; we don’t have the rights to them. For each concert, we pay royalties to all the creators. There is a lot of paperwork; we have to make contracts in all directions. “The titles that have the most success online are therefore found in the setlists of his concerts. Hatsune Miku has just closed her first European tour of London, Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam where thousands of people have gathered to see what the phenomenon gives live.

Hatsune Miku

On stage, it comes to life thanks to a screen where it appears in 3D on a human scale. Its creators do not want to make it a hologram. “The fact that it has a completely unreal appearance avoids creating confusion,” For the moment, Hatsune Miku has no autonomy on stage; the whole show is preprogrammed. They are, however, thinking about a way to integrate more interactions with the public using a form of artificial intelligence. 


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