By Elle Nacard, year 10
Content creators in the form of music and youtube videos are all very familiar to us. It’s easy to spend time watching a youtubers content, and we love supporting the music artists that we keep up to date with. These content creators all have a family, a life, a childhood… but what if I told you there are major youtube channels and music artists that have none of that- not even a human body? Virtual content creators. They sound far fetched but there are already a lot in both the music and youtube industry. Kizuna Ai, a virtual youtuber, has her channel ‘A.I Channel’ (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4YaOt1yT-ZeyB0OmxHgolA) on a whopping 1.7 million subscribers (as of 8th of April 2018). She produces lots of content, with a 2-3 minute video either every day or at least every second day. Some of her videos go up to 10 minutes, but the longer ones are usually on her gaming channel- because clearly, as any youtuber, you’d need a gaming channel right?
Image: Screenshot from one of Kizuna’s recent videos.
Her gaming channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbFwe3COkDrbNsbMyGNCsDg) has 741k subscribers, which is still a lot considering she, well, isn’t a real person. Technically she’s sort of a mid-tier youtuber, lacking the numbers of youtube giants like PewDiePie, VanossGaming or nigahiga, all reaching at least 20 million subs- with PewDiePie over 60 million, but also avoiding the low-tier youtubers which sit below 1 million subs. To be honest, Kizuna Ai’s videos are actually pretty entertaining, and although they’re in japanese there are always accurate english subtitles to go along with it. However, there are surprisingly a lot of other virtual youtubers aside from Kizuna that have channels.
There’s Nekomiya Hinata (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCevD0wKzJFpfIkvHOiQsfLQ), who despite only posting her first video one month ago, has already grown to a stable size of 262k subscribers. She plays online multiplayer games (really well, might I add) in all her videos so far.
Image: Screenshot of Hinata’s uploads tab on her youtube channel. Then there’s Siro (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLhUvJ_wO9hOvv_yYENu4fQ). She is more similar to Kizuna Ai with her general vlog videos, but she plays lots of games too, I believe. However it’s all on one channel rather than splitting it off like Kizuna does.Siro’s channel also sits a stable sub count of 422k.
Image: Screenshot of Siro’s uploads tab on her youtube channel.
There’s also Kaguya Luna (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQYADFw7xEJ9oZSM5ZbqyBw), who mainly sticks to vlog videos rather than gaming. She doesn’t upload as much as the other channels but considering she has 617k subscribers, her channel might’ve been around longer to make up for it.
Image: Screenshot of Kaguya Luna’s uploads tab on her youtube channel. Lastly there’s the Moemi and Yomemi twins (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy5lOmEQoivK5XK7QCaRKug).These two don’t have 3D models like the rest of the channels so far, and are really just animated drawings who are voiced. It doesn’t feel much like a cartoon though, from what I’ve watched it’s more like edited pictures with their voices as an overlay. To me, it wasn’t as interesting as the other channels because their voices were a bt robotic and their movements felt fake so I guess it isn’t surprising they have the lowest sub count of 164k.
Image: Screenshot of Moemi and Yomemi’s uploads tab on her youtube channel.
There are more virtual youtubers that I found, but I’m sure you get the point- there are a lot of them and they actually have successful accounts- even without being real people. That’s all somewhat easy to process. But in the music industry? How well do you think virtual music artists do? They do extremely well. The virtual music artists I’m going to talk about are called ‘Vocaloids’, which is basically just a mix of vocal and android- android being another name for robot. They release songs, music videos, even have their own games, and programs that you can use to use them in your own songs. There are a lot of different Vocaloids, and they all have their own designs and fanmade personalities (as they don’t have much content outside of their songs). Fans often make their own 3D models of the Vocaloids and put them together and make videos for other fans, as well as draw comics or make their own hit music within the fandom. But there’s one problem: every music artist has the exciting appeal of a concert. So if they’re virtual they could never have that, which is pretty sad for the people who support them. However, they actually can have concerts. I’m not just talking about someone dressing up as them and lip-syncing- I mean them being genuinely on stage and moving as a hologram. I was shocked the first time I heard that, that’s for sure. But the funny thing is their songs are actually pretty good if you give it a chance when listening, and considering all the concert production and the people, the concert would still have the same adrenaline rush that you’d feel at any other concert. If you have the time, I strongly recommend some of these videos- the first two are from concerts, and the last one is an MV. This first song I suggest is Senbonzakura by Hatsune Miku. This is one of her hit songs, and Miku alone is likely the face of Vocaloids- although there are a lot of other famous ones such as the Kagamine twins, Gumi, Megurine and others. If you were to listen to only one Vocaloid song, please listen to Senbonzakura- the video is from one of Miku’s live concerts.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-B8LnBNwO8 The other song I would suggest here is Leia by Megurine Luka. I don’t really know much about Megurine although I’ve heard her in some collaborations, so I’m not sure how famous this song is. But, I think if you watched the video it would show you the amazing instrumentalists that attend and how natural Vocaloids seem in their sold out concerts- even though they aren’t real.
The last one I suggest is not a live performance, but is an MV for the sake of showing what they usually look like rather than simply live performances. The MV’s in terms of Vocaloids usually differs between having the 3D models or an animation. Animations or animatics are more preferred when fans use vocaloids in their own songs.
Before reading this article, it’s safe to assume you hadn’t heard of either virtual youtubers or virtual music artists, but the fact that you at least know of them now might come in handy one day- who really knows. And if you enjoyed what you saw, don’t be afraid to look into it! Kizuna Ai makes great videos and Hatsune Miku makes great music- just like their human counterparts.