Hiroyuki Itoh, owner of the media company Crypton Future Media and creator of Vocaloid virtual singer Hatsune Miku, recently participated in a series of seminars held at the Daiwa Foundation Japan House in London entitled 'People & Power in the UK & Japan' to talk about his business.  Richard Di Britannia, a reader of our website, attended the event and now tells us his thoughts. 

Itoh presented a series of slides to the audience to showcase his views on Japanese business, which built up to the reveal that the character Hatsune Miku has generated approximately 10 Billion Yen for his company.  The company started humbly, with a small amount of people huddled around one PC creating synthetic voices using Vocaloid software, a voice synthesiser with Yamaha backing which allows users to alter melody, pitch and other effects to inputted lyrics.  The hard work paid off with the creation of anime-inspired character Hatsune Miku, who is a combination of singer and Japanese idol which has since grown and crossed over into other media such as figurines and advertising. 

His dream was to share Miku with the world, so he has always ensured that disclaimers state 'some rights reserved' rather then 'all rights reserved' which helps show support for

the many fan-based projects which exist on the internet and across Japan.  When questioned if this stance makes piracy a bigger issue, Itoh said far from it and that the greater the exposure of the character than the greater the official sales, due to increased public awareness.  This contributes to securing advertising deals with companies such as Toyota and Google, as they know the character is well-known to the general public.  He also encourages the creation of similar Vocaloid software in China and Mexico, since it all draws people to his creation and increases their popularity even more. 

Itoh reflected on the beginnings of Miku, stating that he wanting to create a loveable character but to be innovative also.  He embraces the doujin culture, stating events such as Comiket (which feature fan-made merchandise) due to their ability to create new fanbases and expand current ones as merchandise will include media which characters do not already appear in, including comics and even pornography.  Embracing this culture also led to the creation of MikuMikuDance – a fan made program which Itoh claimed generated a massive amount of brand awareness, which he is grateful for. 

 He went on to speak at length of the website piapro.jp, an online community created by Crypton Future Media to give fans the ability to upload Vocaloid songs, artwork, AMVs, etc.  The site formed part of Itoh’s ambition to allow people to say ‘thank you to Miku’ and perfectly complements the official community of Mikumikubook.com.  He very much emphasised the importance of a large fan base and not to impose on them too much, but rather to celebrate with them.  This ethos cannot be argued given the success of his product and it could well become even bigger with a planned English Vocaloid singer in 2013.  With a business which understands its fans and the internet culture well, Itoh could well be attending more seminars in the coming years and Vocaloid become even bigger.