SXSW Interactive 2013

Miku: The Open-Source Girl Who Conquered the World


Five years. A dozen social media platforms. Hundreds of producers and artists. Thousands of songs and videos. Millions of fans and billions of views. This is the ecosystem that gave rise to Hatsune Miku, the global singing idol that started as a voice synthesizing software in Japan and evolved into a peer-production phenomenon. This panel will critically examine Miku’s open-source culture to see how social media, networked creativity, and massive collaboration produced one of the most complex music franchises in the world.

We will investigate Miku’s networked social media community; how Crypton Future Media reacted to massive peer production; interviews with musical and media producers; bypassing copyright to architect a free media ecosystem while fostering support for artists; successes and challenges from collaborating with a handful of companies alongside thousands of individuals; and the plans behind producing numerous international sold-out concerts with a holographic singer.

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  1. What is "open source culture"? How does the concept of open-source translate from software to culture, and how can the entertainment industry adapt to this new model? What are the challenges to opening up an entertainment franchise to peer production by anyone connected to the internet?
  2. How does an entertainment franchise keep track of participation across a multitude of social media platforms and strategically accommodate users’ contributions through the creation of original social media services? What benefits and conflicts have occurred between users engaging solely through social media? And how have social media platforms acted as infrastructure to support and influence the development of the franchise?
  3. How do you incentivize musicians and artists to create and distribute their media for free? Is it possible to architect a copyleft franchise that can produce profit for these artists? And how do these artists feel about engaging with their fans primarily through the internet? How do offline events (concerts, commercial fan events, etc.) intermingle with online participation to sustain the media ecosystem?
  4. Miku has relied on both amateur and professional individuals creating alongside projects relying on innovative corporate collaborations with various companies like Sega and Toyota. What successes has this mix produced? Also, what difficult challenges were brought upon Crypton Future Media in light of organizing these teams? How does the company think about future collaborations, particularly with global media enterprises?
  5. Miku has a global network of fans, but many of its producers still reside in Japan. As Miku’s network slowly expands, what does the future of open-source entertainment look like? What models can other projects imitate? And how has Miku’s franchise adapted to the rise and fall of various social media platforms and digital technologies? Is language the biggest barrier in the face of technology? How can Miku continue to become known around the world?



Alex Leavitt, PhD Researcher, Annenberg School for Communication, USC

Meta Information:

  • Tags: open source
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Culture and Entertainment
  • Track 2
  • Level: Advanced

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