A miniskirt, floor length blue pigtails and an incredibly upbeat personality, Hatsune Miku is an incredibly successful popstar. Ever since her debut 10 years ago, she’s steadily grown in popularity until today, when she’s performing at concerts around the world, and even opening for Lady Gaga.
More impressive though is that, despite her fame and devoted fanbase, she’s also a not a real person.
Miku is actually the world’s first computer-generated pop megastar, created by Crypton Future Media, Inc. in 2007. Since then, she’s released over 100,000 songs in a variety of languages, and garnered over 2.5 million followers on Facebook, as well as many more on Twitter.
Hatsune Miku began life as part of a voice synthesis software Vocaloid, by Crypton. It allowed people to write and compose their own songs, and then have the 16-year-old pop idol sing it back to them. She got her name by combining the kanji hatsu (first), ne (sound), and Miku (a name spelled the same way as the word for “future”). Hatsune Mike means, “the first sound from the future.”
Over time, Miku has evolved to become a popstar in her own right, thanks to collaboration between musicians and illustrators. Her concerts typically involve her performing songs written by collaborators, while her virtual avatar dances and lip syncs on stage alongside real human drummers, guitarists and pianists.
Crypton has, in the past decade, sold over 120,000 units of its Hatsune Miku software for about $200 each (approximately Rs 13,000), aside from revenue earned through ticket sales and licensing for commercial use.
As for the future, Crypton CEO Hiroyuki Ito believes the company, and music, will eventually transcend humans entirely. According to him, synth pop will one day surpass even the human voice, and thus spawn a whole new genre of music unique to it. Who knows, maybe as a lot of our parents were confused by the “incoherent noise” of rap and rock, we’ll one day be confused by our kids listening to what sounds like alien dial tones to our ears.