I'd like to hear your opinion on this: do you think in the future it is more likely for vocaloid to die out and become a thing of the past, or do you think it will become more popular with future generations more willing to be invested in a virtual singer?
Hm…that’s a really really good question! It depends on a LOT of different things:
How popular culture changes and develops, the advancement of technology, Vocaloid’s marketing campaigns, official collaborations, international affairs, the music industry, how Japan changes within the next few decades, how niche culture interacts with mainstream culture, the personal availability of advanced electronics, global economics, intellectual property law, response to technology that interacts with the reality-fiction/organic-digital world, supply and demand, fanbase trends and behavior, etc etc.
I could spend quite a lot of time discussing each one of these things, and produce several differing conclusions, but I think the best answer I can give is…I think it will change and develop in many different ways along with the advancement of technology and its availability to different people internationally, but I don’t predict that Vocaloid will begin to move into the realm of mainstream entertainment media. The “mainstream” is very much closed to radically new out-of-the-box production processes and ideas. It’s also home to huge companies that have enough influence and capital to pretty much…do whatever they want. These industry standards in a way really restrict what’s considered acceptable and don’t leave much room for creativity. Vocaloid is heavily participatory and anti-hierarchical, so I don’t think many Vocaloid users (and developers, even) would see enough potential to have much interest. Additionally, I think a lot of what makes Vocaloid hit so close to home for people is in part because it’s rather unprofessional and has that kind of “homemade” feel that gives people a much more personal look into its content. I think the idea of it becoming mainstream and professional (and thus, naturally, money would become a growing motivating factor in content creation rather than pure passion) makes people realize that doing so would threaten to undermine Vocaloid’s core fundamental idea of individual creative potential, and thus is a step not many are willing to take.
Technology takes some time to move into a place where it’s easily commercially available for individual ownership, in a similar way that computers began as massive room-filling machines full of lights, buttons, and tubes– and now we have compact, sleek laptops at our fingertips. Technological changes are made with every new release of the Vocaloid engine, steadily increasing its vocal capabilities and parameters, but it’s possible that people may not accept this change. We like to think about the day that a Vocaloid’s voice is indistinguishable from that of a living human being, which would be really cool, but there will still be many, many people who will reject it and continue to find more potential in an unrealistic sound. Video games with graphics nearly indistinguishable from real life– does that necessarily make the game better? It’s impressive as all hell, but it doesn’t make it better, per se. There are many, many, many games with very colorful, eye-catching, stylized, unrealistic graphics that people find infinitely more attractive than dirty, gritty “real life” graphics. I think something similar will happen with the Vocaloid synthetic voices. But what will this mean for the development of future Vocaloid software products? I don’t really know (not to mention there have been several unreleased, failed Vocaloid products) but I think perhaps they could branch out and develop some non-voice-synthesis-specific applications. Perhaps something for music video production (similar to MikuMikuDance?). Perhaps something that utilizes Virtual/Augmented Reality technology. Needless to say, I’m not a Vocaloid software designer, but I think we can anticipate the release of new creative tools for creating more Vocaloid content in the future, and with that, even more opportunities for creating.