Hatsune Miku was launched in 2007 as a marketing gimmick to promote Vocaloid, a music-making software created by Crypton Future Media, Inc. The technology allows musicians—especially those who can’t sing well—to play a melody, enter lyrics, and produce a computer-generated vocal track. Each software package was given a name—not unlike the latest Apple OS update being called El Capitan—and the company doubled down on the strategy after a pair of early wins. “I had an intuition that the package was a part of [those successes],” says Crypton CEO Hiroyuki Ito, “by showing a character illustration and not some abstract design, as was usual then. For the release of the newer generation software, we decided to go even further and make an illustration that would be even more unique and appealing, with futuristic pop-culture features and references to music and technology.” Miku was born.
The character shines brightest at IRL events, and with an 11-date North American tour the cult of Miku is emerging from behind computer screens to celebrate.