I love the Japanese and all their innovations, but are their virtual music stars too much for the music industry? Their first virtual pop star was Hatsune Miku, who is actually a hologram performs to screaming fans across the country in sold-out arenas. Even in the United States her concert in San Francisco was sold out last year and I for one wish I had been there.
A huge hit in Asia is a J-Pop band called AKB48 that actually has 61 female members. The 61 performers are divided into four groups and the remainders are called "the trainees". Each year the Japanese “superfans” vote on which member of the group is the most popular in a televised awards show. Could we have done that with The Osmonds here in America- and who would have won?
When the bottom girl on the singing pole Aimi Eguchi appeared in a candy commercial soon after joining AKB48, it suddenly raised a red flag with the fans. Usually only the most popular girls get to do commercials and Eguchi was still a “research student” on the singing team. Suddenly the fans started asking themselves questions and wondered if the wool was being pulled over their eyes.
In a Walt Disney moment, the management finally agreed that the fans were right. Eguchi was not a real girl and was much like Simone from the movie of the same name. She was actually a digital composite with facial features from the six other members’ faces in the group.
I then ask myself if this is why Britney Spears moves like a robot and lip- synchs to every song. Does Spears have the same 150 gigabytes of memory too; or is it less? Can we create a real Astro-Boy next please and what will Lady Gaga do with this new information?
If digital musicians become the norm there will be no more expensive tours that we cannot afford due to high salaries and crew. There will also be no more drug or scandalous problems either. If they start to tumble they can be fixed in a geek tingling minute.
Can you imagine the possibilities of American Idol if all they have to do is tear them down and then build them back up each week? The music industry will suddenly become exactly the same as the William Gibson book Idoru. If this technology had become available years ago maybe Betty Crocker and Nancy Drew would not have been just figments of our imagination.
I bumped into the first virtual icon Max Headroom at the Ottawa, Ontario airport years ago and I was so relieved he was just an ordinary man named Matt Frewer. I don’t know how I would have handled a conversation with him beside the luggage turnstile with all that cyber stuttering. That would have been incredibly and virtually as Max Headroom would say "nnnnnnnnnnuts"!
"I started looking at small companies that were running a sort of virtual reality cottage industry: I had imagined that I would just put on a helmet and be somewhere else - that's your dream of what it's going to be.
Text: Linda Seccaspina
Photos: Linda ( some of her Japanese fashion books) and Google
Article first published as Will Japanese Virtual Performers Hurt the Music Industry? on Technorati.
Watch the video commercial showing how they made Aimi.
61 seconds begins the process- just amazing!
The second one is of the hologram star that is selling out arenas and the third video is what they are doing to oldies but goodies now.