I just got hired on accident by a Vocaloid company.

halkunhalkun Registered User regular
edited November 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I think I stepped into a mess that I shouldn't of, so it's going to be a wild ride for the next few months.

For those not in the know, a Vocaloid is a Japanese program that sings songs. They were developed by Yamaha and are terribly popular in Japan. About a year and a half ago I was deep in Vocaloid fandom and discovered that English Vocaloids exist, but were being marketed like shit by 3rd parties and no one buys them. Having a new business degree, I sent a well-intentioned letter a [email protected] email address basically saying that their product was being marketed like shit and they were missing a huge opportunity.

I got an email back by the president of an English Vocaloid company who told me that their product was also selling like shit and was open to ideas. I wrote him a quick marketing analysis paper and he was *very* interested in what I had to say. The problem is he had no money and I was starting to be dragged along as a consultant for free. At the time I was unemployed and really didn't have the resources to do work for free so I quietly dropped out with an apology.

Last week I got an email from the U.K. from a Vocaloid programmer. The conversation went something like "Hi halkun, did you know that English Vocaloids sell like shit?" and I was like, "Yea," and he was all. "I got your email and marketing paper from this guy. If you wanted to sell them to the right demographic, how would you do it?"

And so I wrote another marketing paper about online community building and Vocaloid fans. I sent it off to him and this morning I get a call from the U.K.

"This is awesome", he says, "Your hired, we want to have a website up in January and you're in charge of online marketing/community building. Kthanx, bye!"

I was stoked! I jumped around my room and then realized I have no idea what the hell I'm supposed to do! Well, my new mission is to hunt down and price out the infrastructure to build a community. Things like a webspace and forums and ads and stuff.

Anyone have some advice on how to start this?

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halkun on
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Posts

  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    Well all I can tell you is buy less space first. Because you can always upgrade your hosting package.

    edit: As in, don't buy dedicated servers off the bat.. start on shared hosting plans.

    Spring for actual good forum software like this site uses. All the free ones are still poop.

    FyreWulff on
  • PracticalProblemSolverPracticalProblemSolver Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I would imagine one of the first steps is posting in a large forum associating their product with 'shit' and 'poorly selling.'

    Also, it will be hard for us to do your job for you without a more detailed listing of your requirements. I find it hard to believe someone in charge of marketing is also responsible for the nitty gritties of developing a website, don't they have an IT department?

    PracticalProblemSolver on
  • Bendery It Like BeckhamBendery It Like Beckham Hopeless Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    he had to have given you more than that. Like the amount he was going to pay you, sent a contract, and confirmed that you are indeed going to get paid for what you are doing.

    Ask for an allowance to get the website up, you shouldn't do it out of your pocket. you could use that money to pay someone to help you code/design the website.

    Bendery It Like Beckham on
  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Well obviously you're not supposed to build the website, (unless they think you're a web developer, in which case they're retarded.) so what kind of budget do you have? Will you be able to hire a small advertising studio to help you build out a website and help you develop banner ads and create a plan of which sites to buy media space on? Or is your budget more along the lines of 'search craigslist for the cheapest web developer I can find. If it's the former, PM me. If it's the latter, start looking.

    Make out a plan for what exactly the website needs, and get started soon, because building decent site by january where you currently have no plan, is gonna be a rush job.

    NotYou on
  • SzechuanosaurusSzechuanosaurus Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    Yeah, you need longer than a month to put this all together. It's going to take until at least January to get a proposal together and hire the talent capable of building the site.

    Szechuanosaurus on
  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    Definitely get a contract, and definitely DO NOT pay for anything out of your own pocket.

    FyreWulff on
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Hi, sorry, I was away for a bit...

    First of all, I never really said the product was shit to anyone, I was just giving a very condensed, slightly amusing overview. Just to let you know, the programmer never called me "halkun" and said "Kthanx, bye" ether.

    I glossed over the details because in the center there are political issues with Yamaha and the two English Vocaloid companies involved. Also there is a lot of dull marketing-speak and company dialog that is loathsome to type in a non-professional setting.

    I'll elaborate a little though.

    The programmer I'm working with works for both Vocaloid companies on a freelance basis. He is a professional sound engineer the only person outside Japan that can actually program one. (He was trained by Yamaha). Over the last year he has been getting more and more frustrated with the way the English Vocaloids have been marketed/sold. The English Vocaloid companies are in fact very small. The one company I originally contacted has also been looking at the balance sheets and discovered that his Vocaloid investment was bouncing on "Not worth it". It was then my paper was given to the programmer and he in turn contacted me.

    As far as my own compensation, that's been taken care of. They know how fickle I get when I get dragged along for free.

    The cash for the site is coming out of the company's pocket. Over the next week I'm supposed to come up with what kind of a generic online plan to build a community. The idea is that it will be an "official" site strongly endorsed by both English Vocaloid companies where enthusiasts can go to. We want to create an environment that is conducive to collaboration and Vocaloid education. Something like what Harmonix is doing with Rock Band Network.

    This is all just in the planning stage. The deadline is actually quite soft, but I'm one of those strange people that must work on a timetable in order to get things done. I'm thinking of putting together several ideas with generic price ranges and submitting it. The plans will go from "budget" to "Fantasy world with puppy dogs, unicorns, and rainbows.

    NotYou, I'll be sending you a PM.

    halkun on
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  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I would certainly think starting a presence in the existing vocaloid fan base would be a good move. Maybe ensure you have things like a dedicated youtube channel where you can put up sample videos, introductions, interviews, all that sort of thing that people really into something enjoy listening to and watching.

    Your own web community should be on good terms with the Japanese ones as well, after all there should (ideally) be some shared consumers between English/non English vocaloid fans. And seeing as how this is in the UK, I would think about expanding from just English vocaloid's into other languages as well... I'm sure there's plenty of non Japanese and non English (at least primary language) vocaloid fans out there.

    Other than that, it is a matter of doing the boring marketing stuff. Figuring out demographics, where you should be spending money to advertise, etc.

    EclecticGroove on
  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    My opinion is that a good start would be a youtube competition. People just love Youtube competitions.

    FyreWulff on
  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent The World on This SideRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Definitely get in touch with the fan base. I'm sure no small amount of them would fall over at the chance to help Vocaloid be popular in the states, and if Touhou's any indication, the average diehard fan has creativity and passion to spare.

    cj iwakura on
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  • SipexSipex Registered User
    edited November 2009
    Youtube is definitely a great tool for what you need. Use the shit out of it.

    Secondly, anime conventions will be gold mines for you if you can demo this shit in the future. Bring the idea forward and calculate costs to see if the company is interested. Other conventions won't swing as well as this is currently a japan heavy thing, save those for the results after the convention. Suggest putting on demos, maybe contests, selling this thing.

    Sipex on
    Horseshoe wrote:
    I've got good news and bad news about 6th level, That Guy. The good news is that Forbiddance spell allows you to prevent enemies different alignment from entering a consecrated area, which is actually useful! The bad news is that the only other new sixth level spell makes lunch for everybody. Guess which one the party is going to expect you to cast.
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    And seeing as how this is in the UK, I would think about expanding from just English vocaloid's into other languages as well... I'm sure there's plenty of non Japanese and non English (at least primary language) vocaloid fans out there.

    Sadly, Yamaha is in control of what languages can be made. English Vocaloids are not allowed to deviate from their phonetic mappings.

    halkun on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent The World on This SideRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Are you allowed to use the Vocaloid characters in your marketing? It might not push the product like it would in Japan, but it could still develop a following if presented right.

    cj iwakura on
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  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    halkun wrote: »

    Sadly, Yamaha is in control of what languages can be made. English Vocaloids are not allowed to deviate from their phonetic mappings.

    No reason you can't try and work with Yamaha to try and change this, after all it's just more money for them. May not be a "right now" thing, but setting up English Vocaloid's plus whatever other languages you feel like adding would certainly widen their appeal and marketability.

    EclecticGroove on
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    cj iwakura wrote: »
    Are you allowed to use the Vocaloid characters in your marketing? It might not push the product like it would in Japan, but it could still develop a following if presented right.

    We want desperately to use Anime Vocaloid characters. The problem is the English Vocaloid Companies (EVC) do not want to have "childish cartoon characters" as avatars for their product. The Vocaloid programmer has been fighting with them for the last year and a half to change their reasoning. The problem is, that is what the Voclaoids have become, and we need to start marketing them properly.

    The website plan is a capitulation of sorts. The president of company A is not seeing the ROI in his books. The president of company B is taking a wait and see attitude. They are very very tentatively allowing us to rebrand one of them. Then we will develop a place where Vocaloid fans can collaborate. We also are thinking of getting in touch with a few popular musicians and having them work with us. (Jonathan Coulton, Laura Shigihara) and getting at least their input. - This is down the road. Right now I need to figure out the back end and framework.

    halkun on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent The World on This SideRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I would tell them straight up that if they want you to make this work, they need to trust your judgment. You certainly can't do any worse than they've been doing already.

    cj iwakura on
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  • SipexSipex Registered User
    edited November 2009
    Make a petition or a survey (more likely survey) of what the current english fans would like and present it to the higher ups.

    Sipex on
    Horseshoe wrote:
    I've got good news and bad news about 6th level, That Guy. The good news is that Forbiddance spell allows you to prevent enemies different alignment from entering a consecrated area, which is actually useful! The bad news is that the only other new sixth level spell makes lunch for everybody. Guess which one the party is going to expect you to cast.
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    halkun wrote: »

    Sadly, Yamaha is in control of what languages can be made. English Vocaloids are not allowed to deviate from their phonetic mappings.

    No reason you can't try and work with Yamaha to try and change this, after all it's just more money for them. May not be a "right now" thing, but setting up English Vocaloid's plus whatever other languages you feel like adding would certainly widen their appeal and marketability.

    Talking with Yamaha is not an option now. There are politics involved that make it difficult. I'm afraid I can't talk any more about it than that. They exert a considerable amount of control on the non-voice/non-character part of Vocaloids This includes the audio rendering program and the mappings thereof.

    halkun on
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  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    I mean, I just checked it up on Youtube.. and every single english vocaloid video has anime characters on it.

    Their product has already been anime avatar'd by their userbase.

    FyreWulff on
  • SipexSipex Registered User
    edited November 2009
    Yeah, that can be worried about later. Your current job is to get the english version to sell.

    Sipex on
    Horseshoe wrote:
    I've got good news and bad news about 6th level, That Guy. The good news is that Forbiddance spell allows you to prevent enemies different alignment from entering a consecrated area, which is actually useful! The bad news is that the only other new sixth level spell makes lunch for everybody. Guess which one the party is going to expect you to cast.
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Sipex wrote: »
    Make a petition or a survey (more likely survey) of what the current english fans would like and present it to the higher ups.

    We are already a step ahead on this.

    We are having a redesign contest.

    halkun on
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  • EclecticGrooveEclecticGroove Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    halkun wrote: »

    Talking with Yamaha is not an option now. There are politics involved that make it difficult. I'm afraid I can't talk any more about it than that. They exert a considerable amount of control on the non-voice/non-character part of Vocaloids This includes the audio rendering program and the mappings thereof.

    Well, like I said, it certainly may not happen now (or any time soon), but as they say... money talks. If you can get the English language ones to take off, you may find yourself in a much better position to sway any politics involved to a more favorable (for you) position. I was just putting it out there as it makes sense to me to have as wide a market appeal as possible.

    EclecticGroove on
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    FyreWulff wrote: »
    I mean, I just checked it up on Youtube.. and every single english vocaloid video has anime characters on it.

    Their product has already been anime avatar'd by their userbase.
    I KNOW That's what makes it so goddamned frustrating.

    The idea of the website is a "OK, we heard you! Come in and let us help you create the best vocaloid we can make."

    halkun on
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  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Here's an example of what we are getting....

    The old box
    7_3_Sonika_box.jpg

    The new art
    sonika4.jpg

    halkun on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent The World on This SideRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    It's a vast improvement(art-wise), but the second image could use more background art, something like this:

    DJ_Max_Fever_Coverart.png

    cj iwakura on
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  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    The first one I definitely associate with those throwaway CG characters you see on graphic card boxes. Which is definitely not a good thing. If I'm walking down an aisle and see that, I go "that software must be a piece of crap". If I saw that as an ad banner on a website, I'd be double checking to see where it's trying to offer me a home loan.

    FyreWulff on
  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent The World on This SideRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Also, the cover needs to be more attention-getting, especially about what it is. "VOCALOID Vocal Manipulation Software! Create your own vocal tracks from scratch!" Something like that.

    cj iwakura on
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  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    Also is Sonika the name of the software or the name of the 'voice' that you get with that box?

    If Sonika is the name of the voice, the Vocaloid part needs to be made more prominent (as said above) and it needs to me more apparent that Sonika is the voice or 'version' of the software.

    FyreWulff on
  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent The World on This SideRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    I think that's the voice/'character', like Hatsune Miku and such.


    That's part of the reason it's so successful in Japan. They're quick to latch onto a cute character. It could also work here, but it'd take effort.

    cj iwakura on
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  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    something like this is less confusing:

    vocaloid_prototype.png

    just a quick prototype, but the character name needs to be seperate from the art so it can be seen quickly, and the art does need a background or something to make it 'pop' on the shelf and look interesting.

    FyreWulff on
  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    The gray Vocaloid title bar on the top has to stay the way it is. Yamaha says so. The picture I provided is just one of the samples of art we are getting as an example, Sonika is the name of the voice. Vocaloid is the name of the voice rendering technology from Yamaha. I already hashed to death with the company about the old image. We're trying to fix that bit.

    I just need a server now :P

    halkun on
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  • SheepSheep Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited November 2009
    So what is a Vocaloid?

    Auto Tune?

    Sheep on
  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent The World on This SideRegistered User regular
    edited November 2009
    This'll enlighten you more than I could:

    http://hardcoregaming101.net/projectdiva/projectdiva.htm


    Ha, Sonika's even listed there.

    cj iwakura on
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  • DarkPrimusDarkPrimus premium Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Sheep wrote: »
    So what is a Vocaloid?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocaloid

    DarkPrimus on
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    Gamertag: PrimusD | Rock Band DLC | GW:OttW - arrcd | WLD - Thortar
  • Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against the Irish) Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Sheep wrote: »
    So what is a Vocaloid?

    Auto Tune?
    An artificial singer, essentially.

    I've found these an excellent example of what the vocaloid program can be made to do in talented hands:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lE_DihStHnc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBxVXNOCvKc

    Gabriel_Pitt on
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    DarkPrimus wrote: »
    Sheep wrote: »
    So what is a Vocaloid?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocaloid


    I think Sheep had a great point that Primus missed -- the box doesn't explain a damned thing about what a "Vocaloid" is. What about that box is going to make someone unfamiliar with the concept of a Vocaloid who has just walked into a brick-and-mortar retail shop pick up the box and examine it? The theory behind the box seems to be that an anime girl with green hair will sell anything to anime fans -- coffee, tampons, Vocaloids, etc.

    The old box with the CG character at least had a microphone on it. Which, actually, better conveyed the idea of Vocaloid-ness. Computer Generated. Singing. It's computer-generated singing.

    SammyF on
  • aunsophaunsoph Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    Wow. The day I go looking for real into Vocaloids as a tool for a project of mine, I stumble upon this thread, while looking for suggestions regarding which of the "characters" to pick for more natural sounding English.

    What are the chances that the contest winner would be able to influence her new look, Halkun? I'm going to work on this for a bit. Who knows? It might even solve my problem of which version to acquire. :P

    aunsoph on
  • DemerdarDemerdar Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    You need to create a proposal, even going so far as to setting deadlines and different phases, as well as a budget (which includes what you expect to get paid for).

    Demerdar on
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  • halkunhalkun Registered User regular
    edited November 2009
    aunsoph wrote: »
    Wow. The day I go looking for real into Vocaloids as a tool for a project of mine, I stumble upon this thread, while looking for suggestions regarding which of the "characters" to pick for more natural sounding English.

    What are the chances that the contest winner would be able to influence her new look, Halkun? I'm going to work on this for a bit. Who knows? It might even solve my problem of which version to acquire. :P

    The problem you are going to have is that the Vocaloids are made in Europe, and have accents. Not bad ones, but don't expect one to pronounce "Tall" like "t'all" it sound like "taol"

    And the idea is that the contest is going to influence the design, but it has to go past the president.

    halkun on
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  • FyreWulffFyreWulff Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2009
    halkun wrote: »
    The gray Vocaloid title bar on the top has to stay the way it is. Yamaha says so. The picture I provided is just one of the samples of art we are getting as an example, Sonika is the name of the voice. Vocaloid is the name of the voice rendering technology from Yamaha. I already hashed to death with the company about the old image. We're trying to fix that bit.

    I just need a server now :P

    Well, the gray title bar was supposed to be the same, but I was too lazy to c/p. Can't even add anything right under it?

    Good luck though.

    FyreWulff on
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