Chapter7:The Prosperity of Nico Nico Video and the Significance of Yonezu Genshi appearing from Dojin Music

The Dojin Music[1] scene shows increasing prosperity and has its home ground in the activities of Nico Nico Video.

The concert event “Nico Nico Large Conference” that has taken place nationwide since 2009, has grown and on the 28th and 29th of April 2012 the so called “Nico Nico Super Conference” was set on stage in Makuhari Messe/Chiba. The number of attendants reached approximately 100,000 over two days, and it is said that about 3.5 million people were following the live net broadcast.

The realm called Doujin Music is a music movement that neither quite fits into the scheme of professional or amateur nor major or indies.

It is the music version of the “comic market” that has existed for comic enthusiasts from the 1980s, and it has grown big through the market penetration of Miku Hatsune[2] and Nico Nico Video[3].

In the following I am going to check on the background of the rise of Dojin Music. In the first place it is due to the advancement of digital technology. Computers and music production software became cheaper, easier to use, and the barrier to making music was significantly lowered, thus it became very easy to produce music when you have a computer. For the production of so-called Desktop Music (DTM) it is not necessary to be able to play an instrument. However, since the complete work is done alone at home, it was difficult to share the music with others.

Then the Vocaloid[4] came up, represented by Miku Hatsune. The Vocaloid developed by Yamaha is a human voice synthesizer, and was used by Crypton Future Media Co., Ltd. to personify a character (give it a voice), and thereby a lingua franca for amateur creators was born. Amateur musicians that used the computer for music production, got connected by making use of the same “singer”. Miku Hatsune was used in a U.S. American TV commercial for Toyota and has not only attracted support from overseas fans of Japanese culture, but rather became a symbol for Japanese subculture.

Nico Nico Video became the publishing home ground for the so called “Vocalo P”[5] music creators that use Miku Hatsune. There is a feature in this specific Japanese movie sharing service, where comments called “Danmaku” (Eng: barrage) written by users are recorded and shown, often overlapping, in the video. By reading and writing these comments, sympathy is visualized and spread over and beyond time. The so-called Otaku (Eng. often: geek) who have the existing anime and comic culture and aesthetics in common, were the center of the support. The Miku Hatsune music by amateur musicians has started a great movement. A vast number of songs has been released including hits with more than several million views. The popular songs were released by other musicians with different arrangements, spread by users (calling themselves “Utaite” (“singer”)) singing them without using Vocaloid, and several other ways. Illustrators called “Eshi”[6] were uploading videos matching the music, and thus formed a great culture based on Miku Hatsune together with the musicians.

From one original piece of work (video), countless numbers of derivates were created, which themselves became the groundwork for further secondary creations. This amoeba-like infinite chain of creative activity is called “N Creation”[7] (N = 1, …, n), and is the distinctive feature of Doujin Music.

“Vocalo P” present their pieces of work by making Miku Hatsune sing their songs. The “Eshi” who like the music make movies for the song, and the “singers” who watch the video and like the song sing it and upload it to Nico Nico Video. The whole process is visualized and the number of plays counts as hits. Movies going up in the ranking spread and become more popular. This proves the functioning of the UGM[8] (User Generated Media) system with its growing number of users.

The total amount of sales at Doujin Events cannot be exactly identified and it is very difficult to estimate the market size, but Doujin Music is starting to have a big impact especially on the younger generation, e.g. Miku Hatsune is becoming popular amongst teenage girls, and the average view time of Nico Nico Video of people in their early 20s is about 45 minutes a day.

In 2012 a milestone making artist has appeared, Yonezu Genshi.

He has become a popular “Vocalo P” under the name “Hachi”, and showed an overwhelming number of plays on Nico Nico Video, including “Matryoshka” with more than 5 million hits. “Hachi” began to use his real name Yonezu Kenshi, and started his singer-songwriter career with an album release in June 2012.

There has been cases where popular creators and singers on Nico Nico Video published their work from major labels, but this still has only been a matter of advertisement towards Nico Nico Video users. However, Yonezu Genshi became the first who has been evaluated as an artist by the mainstream music scene, while maintaining his Dojin Music activities.

He was featured on covers of free papers of CD shops, rock magazines, in long interviews and he was treated as a promising new-coming rock artist. The first album “Diorama” placed 6th in the Oricon weekly ranking and became a sales’ success. The appearance of Yonezu Genshi can be an opportunity to unite the Dojin Music scene with the music market of major record companies, that has been separated until then. It also presents a new pathway for amateur musicians to making a major debut and becoming professionals.

The influence of Dojin Music which is based on the Japan specific culture UGM, on the music business deserves ongoing attention.

〜from “WHITE PAPER of DIGITAL CONTENTS in JAPAN” (supervised by METI) (translation:Benjamin Tag)


[1] Also called otokei dōjin in Japan, is a sub-category of dōjin activity. Dōjin are basically non-official self-published Japanese works which can be based on official products or completely original creations. (Wikipedia)

[2] A virtual character that was designed in order to create a mascot for an artificial singing voice.  The voice is based on the software synthesizer Vocaloid 2.

[3] Japanese Video Host service, provided by Niwango. One special feature is that comments by viewers are shown in the video and not beneath.

[4] Yamaha software synthesizer that creates an artificial singing voice. For this it requires the input of melody, text and pronunciation specifications.

[5] People creating their music with the help of Vocaloid are called Vocaloid Producers, short: Vocalo P.

[6] An old expressions for singer and painter. They perform on NicoNicoVideo.

[7] One piece is used to create various derivates.

[8] Places on the Internet where the traditional producer-publisher separation and classification is not clear anymore.


About yamabug

Music Producer consultant of contents business C.E.O. of BUG corporation director of Federation Music Producers Japan. in details ☞ Twitter ☞
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