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Virtual Pop Stars Drive $35 Billion Industry In China

Virtual pop stars are a rising trend in the music business and have been raking in tens of billions in terms of funding, Bloomberg writes.

Among them, the article says, is Luo Tianyi, who the article says is a vocaloid, or a computer-generated Mandarin-speaking voice-synthesized pop star.

One of the prime influencers in the field is Shanghai Henian Technology, which thus far has six vocaloid performers. The company has offices in China and Japan.

Bloomberg writes that the form developed in Japan originally, and has had an influence on K-pop. China is the biggest audience for it thus far, with around 390 million people watching virtual idols.

And meanwhile the animation industry, including TV shows and comics, has inflated to a valuation of $35 billion as of last year, according to stats from media company iQiyi.

The music industry has touched on some of these ideas before, with non-human performances like dancing animated cats and “revivals” of dead celebrities. Now creators can pay $225 for audio editing software which can make songs with non-human voices. Yamaha is also working on a technology to make the voices more realistic and to allow musical expressions unique to vocaloids.

Luo, who performed for over 150 million total on New Years Eve, has a base of fans in which over a third were born after the year 2000. They’re largely based in the bigger cities in China, and Luo’s songs have been used in advertising campaigns for Nescafe, KFC and others. Harper’s Bazaar put Luo on the cover of its China edition, Bloomberg writes.

Virtual events became the only avenue available for many during the pandemic. Spotify also worked on several of them, putting out online shows for $15 plus tax. Spotify planned concerts with artists including The Black Keys, girl in red, Rag’n’Bone Man, Bleachers and Leon Bridges throughout the months of May through June 2021.

The concerts were planned to be between 40 and 75 minutes.

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