Everyone can become a creator with Hatsune MikuThu, Dec 26, 2019
Though her popularity may have begun with amateur music producers and those affiliated with otaku culture, Hatsune Miku, a vocaloid software developed by Crypton Media INC. and an anthropomorphic character with long, turquoise twintails, has rose to international fame and done it all: She has modeled for Vogue magazine, performed as an opening act for international popstar Lady Gaga’s world tour, and gone on world tours herself to countries such as China, France, and the United States.
“Being open to collaboration was the key to all this happening,” said Hiroyuki Itoh, founder and CEO of Crypton Future Media, during a talk event organized by the Intercultural Communication Center. “It was a chain reaction of creativity that was borne out of our software which spread throughout the world.”
In this talk held on October 29, Itoh shared the behind the scenes events and business strategies surrounding Hatsune Miku. At the time when the software was released in 2007, video-sharing services such as YouTube and Nico Nico Douga were becoming more common, and both amateur creators and professional singers have started to share their work using the vocaloid online. Also, what made Hatsune Miku unique was that there was a character associated with it, and people have started to embody the character into their cosplay, illustrations, figurines, animation and other contents.
This meant that Hatsune Miku needed clear copyrights and secondary use rights for fan art, but instead of setting rigid rules, Crypton Future Media released the Piapro Character License, which allow users the versatility to adapt the character into their work without hassle as long as they followed certain restrictions. They have also set up the Piapro Portal, where fans are encouraged to share their work. Some work even give other users the freedom reshape them.
“A simplified version of the licensing allows even young children to understand the copyrights and become creators,” Itoh added. “We are grateful because a value of a digital content increases as more and more people use it. Of course, it is important t to protect our content, but we because we live in a time where we can connect with anything over the internet, how often people are exposed to a content becomes crucial, which is why we became open to collaboration.”
Hatsune Miku has been part of a number of projects since then, partnering with businesses and organizations in and outside Japan. Some of the projects include dancing on stage with Kabuki actors, raising awareness for national welfare with the Central Community Chest of Japan by being featured in their posters, and promoting the Sapporo Winter Festival through the creation of Snow Miku snow sculpture. Especially the latter has evolved into its own event and a costume design contest, in which the selected image will also become the campaign image and merchandise. As Crypton Future Media is located in Sapporo, organizing such an event not only helps to give back to the local community but also proves that business opportunities are not bound to major cities.
Lastly, when asked what Crypton Future Media intends to do next with Hatsune Miku, Itoh simply answered, “In my opinion, Hatsune Miku is an instrument, and so she won’t intentionally do anything on her own at her own will, but we want to make sure to improve the technological aspects of the software so that she can help creators do things that they dream of.”
This event was held as part of WASEDA International Weeks, a newly-started initiative to celebrate its international community as well as provide even more opportunities for domestic and international students to interact with one another and foster their global mindset. During this period, more than 60 events such as the Haruki Murakami Symposium have taken place.