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.

The first is of course the group Vocalekt Visions, TempoP, neutrinoP, and their support staff and collaborators which includes people like Holo the Wise, Re:VB, and Sappokei. This is an example not only of great collaboration, but in execution and initiative that is unmatched even in Japan today.

Tempo & neutrino are not just content in posting videos to Nico/YouTube, after they posted it they are continually promoting it, engaging people through Twitter, Nico, and blogs. Then they wanted the widest distribution possible and they got their songs listed on iTunes, Amazon MP3, and even put their CDs on

Now normally that would be enough but they have taken it a step further. They have been doing a convention tour and have been showcasing their technology, along with holographic projection technology, to live audiences at conventions across the US. Eventually, they want to accompany it with live musicians and make it to the big stage and rival events like MikuNoPolis.

How many times do you hear people complaining that they wish they had a Vocaloid concert in their country? Well you know what Vocalekt Visions didn't wait for Sega, Crypton, or Toyota. They hosted one themselves and have been using these events to promote theirs, and others works. They have gotten off their asses and have literally poured blood, sweat, and tears promoting their works.

It is the responsibility of the producer to promote his or her own works.
Tempo & neutrino have not only promoted their own works, they have gone above and beyond the call and not only promote themselves, but Vocaloid as a whole.

The second example is of course anaROBIK. I already covered her extensively in my previous article Rant: anaROBIK vs Fanmades so I will try keep this brief.

When Robert Hedin, one of the earliest adopters of VOCALOID, adopted LOLA the idea of "Character Vocal Series" didn't even exist. Zero-G didn't have any official characters or hell any marketing on the matter at all beyond the "Virtual Soul Vocalist". In the blank slate Zero-G left him Robert crafted "anaROBIK" a moniker that would both be the name of his fictional virtual idol, and the name of his collective works.

Where some today see 'failure' Robert saw an opportunity. No need to say "[Original Song] feat. [Vocaloid Name]", he created his own, one which he wouldn't have to ask Zero-G for permission to use, sell, and market. Plus looking at it from a musician's perspective how ridiculous would it be to add the instrument pack you used into your song title? Imagine if I titled the guitar single I sequenced out in FL Studio "[My Guitar Solo] feat. [FL Slayer]". Almost laughable isn't it?

Robert didn't adopt any existing characters or images when marketing his works. He created his own and found success with it. He may not be notable inside the Vocaloid fandom, but that was never his goal. He didn't want his works attributed to his software but rather him, and identified as his works. Hell, when he started the 'fandom' didn't even exist for him to market to.

Like Tempo he didn't sit around and wait for his videos to get views either, he got off his ass and marketed his work. He constructed an entire personal and mythology around his virtual vocalist and eventually gained a lot of momentum. He was signed by an indie record label, and his songs later remixed and sampled by composers and DJs around the world.

It wasn't a "vocaloid" song, it was an "anaROBIK" song. He made an entire brand out of nothing... and the Vocaloid fandom knows nothing about this. I guess it was mission accomplished, the focus wasn't on the Vocaloid but him and his signer whose name and image he owns.

Thats why when Space+Time Magazine was looking for a Vocaloid producer to interview, a person to show the possibilities of what the software was capable of they chose Robert Hedin, even though many of us on VO at the time knew nothing about him or any of his works. He is the prime example of what you can do, and what is possible, with the instrument that is Vocaloid, and possibly, a glimpse, a hint, of what is to come.

So next time you wonder why your music isn't popular, why more people don't like you, why you don't see more of that Vocaloid you like. Don't blame 'marketing', 'character design', or 'box art'.

If you are doing your job right none of these things should matter.

On that note let me end with this...
Remember when Susumu Hirasawa used a Vocaloid in the soundtrack of the feature length anime film Paprika? Everyone assumed it was Crypton's MEIKO because Hirasawa-san was Japanese and MEIKO is a JP-loid. Nope, that wasn't the case.
"If users can edit her perfectly, she can be a professional (singer). She can sing in soprano or whatever if they edit her overwhelmingly"
This is a great producer at work people.

He didn't market the Vocaloid but rather himself, he edited and fine tuned his output so aggressively it was almost unrecognizable and no one could guess the voicebank. It was Zero-G's LOLA and everyone was none the wiser.

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