March 9 is coming up, that means only 1 thing, Hatsune Miku madness is approaching! For those that are unaware, Hatsune Miku is the name of the first (and presently the most popular and successful) vocaloid program created by Crypton Media. A vocaloid program is essentially a text-to-speech converter with a twist. The twist being that the software is a fullly fledged "singer" or "diva" packaged into your very own virtual music studio. This has given both everyday people and professional song-writers without singing abilities or people that are too shy to use their own voice an extremely powerful tool to convert lyrics to song. The voice of the software is thus the voice of Hatsune Miku, the model program that several other vocaloid programs and copycats have been trying to emulate. Cypton has released several other vocaloid programs including a male vocaloid. However, none have matched the success of Hatsune Miku.
March 9 cooresponds to 3/9 or in Japanese the numbers san (3) and kyu (9), 3 can also be respresented by mi in some cases instead of san. Combine the two and you get mikyu or miku. Last year on March 9 there was a massive Hatsune Miku concert called something like Hatsune Miku's Thank you concert. It was the 1st ever Miku concert and possibly the first concert performed by a virtual singer. 3 and 9 or sankyu, is also Engrish for thank you which explains that bit.
This March 9 there will be another giant concert, live in Tokyo, and the preparations are being set right now. Tons of exclusive Miku goods are being produced and tickets are being sold for around 5400 yen by a lottery system. There will likely be a DVD/Bluray produced from the event released later in the year for those that couldn't make it as well. There is a video showing some footage from last year's concert below:
I'm a pretty big Miku fan so I'm looking forward to seeing footage and more details from the upcoming concert. Miku popularity has steadily grown with many Miku styles and designs (outfits and figures) being released for special events and seasons. This year so far a snow miku is being released to celebrate the Sapporo snow festival that occurs every year in Hokkaido.
A miniature spring-themed sakura Miku is being provided as a gift to those that attend this years 3/9 concert as well. Other special editions include Racing Miku to support Good Smile Company's SupertGT sponsorship of a BMW Z4 and Porsche RSR 997.
Will vocaloids take the world by storm? Not in the same way that they are in Japan. In reality, while vocaloids are growing in popularity in Japan, they're still a fairly niche topic / commodity. I can foresee a "western vocaloid" English program being released by a company in America but without the image of a vocaloid mascot or character like Miku. That's where much of the difference between Japan and the western world lies--the Japanese love mascots and they love cute stuff. Whether vocaloids become something big, only time will tell.