Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rant: Vocaloid Popularity Contest

People keep saying things like "bad character design" or "bad boxart" but at the end of the day these are vocal synthesizers. The popularity of a song or character has nothing to do with the images or Vocaloid publisher. Its all about the music and the producers behind them. How skilled is the producer and how much EFFORT is he or shee is willing to put in?

The popularity of the music is entirely on the music producer's shoulders, not the fandom, and certain't not the Vocaloid company. You can't publish a 'medeocre' or hell, even 'outstanding' song, fail to market it, and then blame the fandom/person you bought the software for the lack of the song's success. I am not going to buy FL Studio and then blame Image-Line that my original song only has 500 views.

If you want your song to be popular you need to put the work in, that is something most people aren't willing to do. There are of course shortcuts of course, shortcuts many people aren't shy from taking. If you want views, suck at marketing you work, then the obvious route to take is cover something already popular, like Linkin Park, or cat songs, since they are already popular they almost market themselves! [/sarcasm]

I will give you two examples of 'proper' marketing from Western producers, one who uses Miku, Gumi, & Gakupo amongst other JP-loids and the other, an early adopter of VOCALOID1 Engloids, which have no official character images or art, and created an entire virtual singer & mythos, from scratch, to represent his work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rant: anaROBIK vs Fanmades

I have been talking about anaROBIK a lot on VO, particularly because she is a great example of Vocaloid being used as an 'instrument' rather than as a 'character'. Recently she was brought up in a discussion about fanmades.

For those that don't know about her, I have coverage on Engloids.Info

Now personally, I dislike fanmades, I think the idea around them is stupid, and now that there is over 40 different Vocaloid 1-3s, not even counting the various appends, I see little use for them outside of the headcanon of the the fandom.

In many ways she is similar to fanmades: She is a non-canon character, developed by a fan, derived from a Vocaloid voicebank. Despite her origins I don't consider her a 'fanmade'. I point you to why I like her so much. She is an example of Vocaloid being used as an 'instrument' rather than a character.

You must keep in mind that anaROBIK is derived from Zero-G's LOLA voicebank, one of the earliest VOCALOID1s and Robert Hedin (anaROBIK's producer) was one of the earliest adopters. This was a different era, the era before Miku, before Vocaloid2, an era where the concept of fanmades hadn't even been conceived.

Hell, even today the 'concept' of LEON & LOLA that comes to mind when you think of their characters is entirely fanon. If anything the modern ideas of Leon & Lola's characters are all fanmade. The only official art is the one that graces their boxes.

But alas, we are getting sidetracked. Lets get back to anaROBIK...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Vocaloid: The Fan Phenomenon

AnimeLA was some of the most fun I have had at a convention. Mainly because I usually go to conventions as 'work' as an exhibitor so going to one 'for fun' is bound to be more fun than working one. I was able to attend a bunch of panel and "Vocaloid: The Fan Phenomenon " was one of them.

Vocaloid: The Fan Phenomenon
Presented by Russell Chou & Derek Chou
January 7 2012 @ Anime Los Angeles 8

Synopsis: What is vocaloid?  No, not just the software, but the whole ecosystem that has become “Vocaloid”.  How did it come to be, and what will become of it?

I will be honest with you: I expected the worst and in the end it was not bad. Sure we giggled a bit at his 'English Websites' slide, and disagreed a bit about music monetization, overall it was a pretty good overview on Vocaloid, as a fandom.

For the most part he focuses near exclusively on Crypton Future Media & the Crypton-loid. I don't blame him since the focus was on the "fan phenomenon" and the fandom very much revolves around the Crypton-loids. He wasn't totally ignorant of the others, even name dropped the Engloids & UTAU a bit, but Crypton seemed the focus of the panel.

Even though he focused on the fandom he drew particular attention to Vocaloid as a software, and various producers behind many of the most popular songs. He even covered oft overlooked but very important aspects of the fandom like the 'doujin culture' and the 'fan works' concepts.

He also drew attention to the 'perfect storm' of things going on that helped make Miku a success. Pointed out the early adoption by people who would later become 'pro' producers, the timing & importance of Nico Nico Douga's founding in December of 2006 and how NND & Vocaloid would grow together, till Vocaloid gets an entire section dedicated to it on the site.

Probably the most controversial thing Russell brought up was his section on "Commercial Adoption" (18:55) where he went into PiaPro, creation of KarenT and other labels, and the commercialization of arts and music, a topic he would return to multiple times throughout the panel.

Props to Russell for also covering, albeit briefly, not just the Engloids, but the Spanish, Korean, and Chinese versions of the software as well. He also didn't forget about the other JP-loids and really spread the Gumi love at one point.

In conclusion...
With the panel's title in mind it wasn't terrible at all. It focused on the fan perspective, and while not overly useful for the experienced fans, it is certainly informative to the casual fan or random convention attendee.

For those interested Russell has given me a copy of the slides he used. You can find the slides, along with a timeline of the video after the jump.

Opinion: Concerning Pocaloid Drama

I just wanted to put this out there:
I consider public shaming a perfectly legitimate strategy.

They might not care that they are pirating Vocaloid but their viewers might, and considering how ego driven this fandom is I think it would be a prime motivator. There is nothing greater than peer pressure and the force of public opinion.

There is not need to attack anybody and whats past is past. Call them out on it, if they are unrepentant add them to the wall-o-shame, if they promise to stop doing it then leave them be.

If they don’t care about being on the shame wall, then let that be that, its their reputation that is in ruins. You can't force someone to care about something. Whatever you do leave them an option to turn back.

Everyone has to start somewhere and no need to scare potential customers away, because frankly STS Artech, Voctro Labs need all sales they can get.

Anyone who tries to defend Pocaloid, don’t do it.
It only makes you look like a fool. You cannot defend the indefensible and ‘everybody does it’ is not a valid excuse.

Anyone who attacks people who use Pocaloid, don’t do it.
It is not as unforgivable as you make it out to be and everyone has to start somewhere. Be happy that they are considering using/buying Vocaloid.

The pirates of today might be the producers of tomorrow.
Don’t attack them, but feel free to publicly shame them. No one is beyond repentance. The important part is they want to us Vocaloid.

Even great producers like Koda-P, a staunch opposer to Pocaloid, will admit that he too once used Pocaloid. His first Original A Simple Song feat. Megurine Luka was made using a pirated Vocaloid.

He eventually grew out of it, bought his first Engloid, and never turned to Pocaloid again. Now he owns 3 Engloids and is one of the top producers in the west.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ramble: Letter to Fandubers

Dear Fandubers,

Heavily autotuning your voice does not make you sound more like a Vocaloid.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Vocaloid Radio Project Proposal

This is a work in progress and has yet to be copy-edited but it is something I wanted to share after all the support the project thread has been receiving.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rant: In Defense of Zero-G

A little something to keep in mind while people speculate about Zero-G, some going so far to attack them. Others suggesting they take VocaTone up to contract.

Zero-G is a music company first, Vocaloid company second. They have some of the largest audio sample libraries in the world. When Yamaha was going to launch VOCALOID 1 it was Zero-G who was its earliest adopter, of the 6 companies approached they were the first to see the possibilities that Vocaloid could bring.

Don't think for a moment that Zero-G is blind, as an early adopter they had the vision that 5 of the largest music production companies in the world couldn't grasp. They had faith in a product that was still unproven. They have been partnered with Yamaha for 3 generations of the Vocaloid software as other companies have come and gone. Don't think for a moment they don't know what they are doing.

I have personally interacted with some of the Zero-G staff. They have only ever conducted themselves with the highest level of professionalism that you would expect from a company with their rich of a history. I assure you they know what they are doing and if they are committed to releasing the highest quality product possible.

That being said there are many ways to market a product. Constant teasers and community interaction is one thing but focusing on product development, small focus groups, and strategic press releases at project milestones is another. Zero-G has every right to manage their image as they choose.

That being said a thing to remember is that 'fans' don't buy their product, producers do. If they choose to focus their marketing efforts at producers then I certainly don't blame them. They haven't lost sight of the ball, their primary goal is to sell software.

Monday, January 9, 2012

KarenT's VocaListener Radio Response

This actually came a while ago but I never got the chance to update the blog with the response due to the holidays. Figured now is as good a time as any seeing as I plan on blogging about future developments soon enough.

Dear Mr. [Name Redacted],

Thank you for your inquiry.
Now we have been proceeding with the preparations to enable KarenT music to be broadcast legally on internet radio stations. Please be patient for a few months until we are prepared.

Best regards,

Not the response I would have liked but it leaves the possibility for something in the future. I will proceed to develop my ideas and write a formal project proposal.