After the Capitol Records debacle of FN Meka, more scrutiny has been placed on the advent of ‘Virtual’ Characters(Vtubers) and how they play upon the stereotypes of the genre of music they represent. In a genre of music K-pop, which is a literal melting pot of culture, music, and fashion, fans seem more accepting of a caricature representing their genre. Enter APOKI. APOKI is a virtual character or ‘VTuber’ described as “a rabbit-like being living somewhere in space”. This K-pop sensation has more than 300,000 subscribers on YouTube and 3.8 million followers on TikTok.
Many popular brands are experimenting with virtual artists as an onramp to the emerging metaverse, where many real artists via virtual avatars have found success performing virtual concerts to millions of virtual fans. Vi APOKI’s popularity has been growing since early 2021. Through a partnership with VV Entertainment and Sony Music Solutions Japan, APOKI released her first English-language song “West Swing ft. E-40”. This new song represents the true chameleon-like abilities of virtual artists, this particular single being a new genre for the VTuber. The single “West Swing” is APOKI’s fourth single and is meant to represent a retro sound reminiscent of the popular New Jack Swing style. APOKI has already released four singles and two Japanese versions of her songs. Her character’s malleability has made her popular outside of Korea where she was named the #1 virtual influencer in Korea in June 2022. The United States, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Mexico are among the many countries she is already breaking into.
Sony Music group, which has been experimenting with Vtubers is no stranger to the potential Vtubers and what they represent to the music industry. “VEE” VTuber project is ‘the largest virtual talent development project in history as described by Sony. Creating the infrastructure for streaming, video creation, music, voice acting, for virtual talent is the main goal behind the project. With Sony’s years of experience creating iconic games and characters, its transition into creating Virtual Pop idols will be seamless.
“Sony Group is not only a company that delivers innovative and trustworthy electronics but is also a strong global power in all areas of content including music, games, and movies,” says DK Kwon, CEO of AFUN Interactive. “We are looking forward to the various synergies that AFUN Interactive and Sony will create together as we pioneer a new generation of virtual entertainment. Thanks to Sony’s strong trust and commitment to creating new markets together, we will continue to respond with good content and new technology.
As some companies struggle to find the correct balance between offensive caricatures and fan favorite idols, one thing that is for sure, more VTubers or on the way whether we like it or not.