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She’s “written” more than 180,000 songs. She has 1.95 million Facebook followers. She’s sold out concerts around the globe and fronted top campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Google and Toyota.
By many metrics she’s a typical Japanese pop star. The one crucial difference: Hatsune Miku is not human.
Created by Crypton Future Media, a Japanese software development company based in Sapporo, the “entity” beloved by millions, which goes by the name of Hatsune Miku, is a “fabricated digital voice sporting a virtual character body,” as described by The Japan Times (eat your heart out, Daft Punk).
Her voice was digitally synthesized and her physical characteristics were generated by crowdsourced preferences. The consensus settled on giant turquoise pigtails and the Japanese otaku favorite: a schoolgirl-ish demeanor. At concerts, she “performs” as a hologram.
According to The Japan Times, Crypton Future Media created Miku in 2007, using “vocaloid” technology (a singing synthesizer) from Yamaha Corporation, and later released her as an app. The software became the company’s highest-grossing release at the time, pulling in $9.25 million.
Although Miku has been circulating online and in Japanese media for seven years, the addition of English to her official singing languages last year has given her a popularity boost in international markets — most of her Facebook hits now reportedly come from Mexico City. Her 1.95 million Facebook followers ranks her above any other entertainment figure from Japan.
And despite her seven years on the international pop stage, Miku remains 16 years old and has not once shaved off her blue hair or been arrested for racing Lamborghinis.
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