The virtual idol is an idea that has been around for more than 30 years, and in recent years, the term has gained popularity across numerous industries. The products of technology and society are virtual idols. Through technology, they provide for people’s needs and aspirations. They have traits such as a high income, powerful plasticity, and strong controllability.

Due to their benefits, virtual idols have caught the interest of many different fields. For efficiency and financial gain, many businesses nowadays, not just those in the entertainment industry, have introduced their virtual idols. People are anticipating a spark between new locations and their virtual idols. Keep scrolling to learn more!

What is a virtual idol?

What is a virtual idol?
What is a virtual idol?

A virtual idol is a virtual entity that can exist in both the virtual and real worlds and sings and dances in much the same way as actual idols. Hatsune Miku, who first appeared as a personification of a voice synthesis program called Vocaloid, is the first prominent example of a virtual idol.

Since then, Hatsune Miku has gained a sizable fan base and has held holographic concerts in addition to releasing numerous albums. Hatsune Miku’s popularity has led to the creation of analogous virtual idols, such as China’s Luo Tianyi.

Then, gaming businesses actively embraced virtual idols. To promote their video game League of Legends and their in-game merchandise, Riot Games debuted KD/A in 2018. In the initial round of the promotion, KD/A performed live onstage in augmented reality with actual singers. Both gamers and music enthusiasts found KD/A to be a sensation. 


In November 2018, their debut song topped the Billboard World Digital Song Sales Chart, and its accompanying music video received more than 100 million YouTube views in a single month. Riot Games transformed from a typical gaming company to a next-generation multimedia organization thanks to KD/A’s popularity. 

A new category of virtual idols, those based on actual individuals, has emerged as a result of the success of Hatsune Miku and KD/A. Rapper Travis Scott did a virtual concert tour on Epic Games’ video game Fortnite in May 2020. 

virtual concert tour on Epic Games of Rapper Travis Scott
virtual concert tour on Epic Games of Rapper Travis Scott

The musical setting allowed players to interact with it while concurrently seeing their virtual avatar perform.

A record 12.3 million people attended the opening concert, and there were 27.7 million players overall who took part in the event. Only 8.8 million people attended Ed Sheeran’s tour, which was the highest-grossing tour of all time. The concert tour’s surprising success has sparked other inventions of virtual idols based on actual individuals.

>>>Read more: What Is Virtual Human? What Is Virtual Human Used For?

Characteristics of virtual idols

Characteristics of virtual idols
Characteristics of virtual idols

Virtual idols have the following characteristics:

Virtual idols can earn a lot of money.

Real idols typically cost far more than virtual idols, especially VTubers. A live 2D for VTuber typically costs no more than 2,000 ($310), even with the character’s design. Additionally, becoming a VTuber is far simpler than becoming a true idol. To be truly idolized, a person must possess the outstanding talent or good beauty. However, all one needs to become a VTuber is a functional computer and 2,000 ($310).

Virtual idols can perform well in more traditional forms of entertainment, including music. The popular music CD “EXIT TUNES PRESENTS Vocalogenesis feat. 

China’s virtual idol industry has taken off in recent years. 64% of people between the ages of 14 and 24 were virtual idol followers, according to a survey on the phenomenon that was published by Chinese streaming juggernaut iQIYI. The monthly average viewing time of virtual idol live streams on Bilibili increased by 225%.

China's virtual idol
China’s virtual idol

Virtual idols can provide big earnings despite being inexpensive. For instance, a virtual idol by the name of “Xiangwan Big Devil” can make numerous 10,000 ($1,550) from the virtual girl’s group A-Soul in a single video live. On her birthday, the video even made about $1,000,000 (about $155,000). 

The group A-Soul also has ancillary products to sell and videos that they placed on Bilibili, a video platform similar to YouTube, in addition to the revenue earned from video lives.

Concerts by virtual idols from businesses with sophisticated technical assistance are another method to make money. Hatsune Miku is a prime illustration. In 2009, Hatsune Miku performed for the first time using 3D holograms. 

virtual idols' concerts
Virtual idols’ concerts

The concert’s 3D holographic translucent screen can show images that are incredibly bright and clear. Hatsune Miku has already performed to sold-out crowds in major cities around the world, including LA, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and others.

In May 2021, the L’Oréal Group revealed Mr. Ou as the first virtual idol. This idol, a 24-year-old Sino-French entrepreneur who works in the environmental and cosmetics industries, contributes to L’Oréal’s social media platforms with articles about cosmetics trends and ingredients. By taking this measure, the business might be able to reduce its marketing, endorsement, and consultancy costs.

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Virtual idols exhibit plasticity in their design.

Artificial intelligence with human behaviors is integrated into virtual idols using a data foundation. Therefore, based on fan tastes in various countries and developing modeling technologies, they can present virtual images in line with local aesthetics to viewers.

Motion captute to create virtual idols
Motion captute to create virtual idols

Virtual idols can follow fashion trends and beyond the boundaries of conventional superstars by adopting appearances and skills, such as animal features and superpowers.

The gamers showed up as a fox and a seal in a talent competition for online idols. Furthermore, based on artificial intelligence, they can do several tasks previously only possible for human people. Virtual idols can work in a wide range of fields.

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Virtual idols have a strong degree of control.

The spread of COVID-19 made it harder for musicians to perform live and engage in other activities. The epidemic undoubtedly affected the entertainment sector and related businesses. 

According to a report by the trade newspaper Pollstar, hundreds of concerts and performances had to be canceled or postponed, and the loss was estimated to be worth over $30 billion.

However, it’s possible that the virtual idol industry had minimal impact and even improved. Online entertainment gained popularity as people spent more time at home, and the market value and attention given to virtual idols significantly grew.

Additionally, since virtual idols can perform anywhere, the pandemic’s financial toll is reduced. Hatsune Miku and other well-known VTubers performed as they would sans the surroundings and virus. Hatsune Miku’s concert, Miku EXPO 2021, was aired on YouTube and gave fans around the world three lives. 

More than 30 different items were available for purchase on the website, and fans could send messages to their idols and other visitors. Even though they couldn’t congregate to watch the concert, folks were nonetheless very excited about it.

Hatsune Miku’s publisher, Crypton Future Media, ran a crowdfunding campaign that received 3,588 backers and raised 61,265,492 ($559,600).

Additionally, the first concert of virtual YouTubers (VTuber) and uploaders (VUp) since the COVID-19 epidemic was on December 19, 2020. In Shanghai, thousands of fans participated, and roughly 17,000 individuals watched online.

virtual YouTubers
Virtual YouTubers

Human performance is mostly influenced by their psychological state, and mishaps can happen. Virtual idols, on the other hand, rely on technology. Diseases won’t harm them. They’ll make performances more effective and finish tasks that would be risky for people to do.

In addition to reducing the risks associated with live performance, virtual idols are easier to control in emotion, communication, and consciousness.

Although celebrities are there to please the audience, the unhealthy idol culture has resulted from too much focus on their private lives. Dedicated followers of idols have been harassing and stalking them in several nations, harming them and upsetting the social order. 

When a Japanese idol group boarded the Shinkansen, it was delayed by the crowd of admirers encroaching on the platform. Additionally, if the image is different from what the audience expected, they may be disappointed.

A Japanese idol group
A Japanese idol group

Products that serve the public’s aesthetic preferences and demands include virtual idols. Companies and programs place some limitations on their speech and conduct, and virtual idols don’t have “private lives.”

Therefore, the virtual idols themselves have essentially no detrimental effects. Additionally, even if the business gives up on the virtual idol, it still owns the algorithms, data, and copyrights because data and algorithms are the foundation of virtual idols.

They may therefore easily produce and enhance clones of the virtual idol.

Without a doubt, the idol effect has had a significant positive impact on the economy. The demands of the industry and fans on idols’ public personas have increased at the same time. An unspoken prohibition against idol dating has existed in idol society recently.

AKB48, a Japanese idol group, has a contract that forbids its members from dating anybody else while they are still in the group. In China, a romantically involved idol is referred to as a “collapsed home (ta fang),” which is viewed negatively.


These limitations may seem illogical or even illegal, yet they are understandable. The psychology of fan consumption is comparable to that of investing and purchasing products.

Fans who spend money on idols expect better development from them or better performance and service in exchange, although dating and marriage are perfectly acceptable. At the moment, it is difficult to resolve the conflict between human necessities and consumption-related goals.

Virtual idols, however, are an option for resolving the conflict between fans and idols as they lack human-specific needs like love. They may continue to grow and learn with the aid of technology, and they can always preserve a lovely image in the minds of admirers.

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Why virtual idols are popular?

Why virtual idols are popular?
Why virtual idols are popular?

Virtual idols frequently have connections to animes. The first virtual idol, Lynn Minmay, debuted in Japan in 1984. She is a made-up singer who appears in the anime series Super Dimension Fortress Macross, and Mari Iijima provided her voice. The first fictitious idol singer to achieve significant real-world success was Lynn Minmay.

In 2007, Crypton Future Media and Yamaha released Vocaloid 2, which used Hatsune Miku’s voicebank. Miku can have songs written for her, which she can then perform. 

Vocaloid 2
Vocaloid 2

Cute comic characters and regularly upgraded environments have contributed to Miku’s long-term success. Wii U introduced virtual idols into video games in 2015. One of the imaginary bands in the video game Splatoon, The Squid Sisters, appeared at numerous actual concerts as holograms.

Due to the roots of virtual idols, the majority of their followers also enjoy related animes or video games. These followers are very devoted to their idols, thus they are willing to spend a lot of money on them. Chinese businesses began releasing their virtual idols as a result of the huge popularity of virtual idols in the Japanese market.

The majority of Chinese fans have high expectations for their heroes, many of which are impossible for them to live up to, such as not falling in love with other people. However, because virtual idols are not humans, they can easily fulfill these demands. Virtual idols can so draw a sizable following.

The development of technology in virtual idols

The development of technology in virtual idols
The development of technology in virtual idols

Utilizing various technologies has allowed for the emergence of the new phenomenon of virtual idols. Three-dimensional virtual idol images are now more vivid than they were before thanks to these technologies. For instance, motion capture technology creates virtual idols.

There are two types of motion capture systems: optical and inertial. The main benefits of this method are increased sensitivity and accuracy of the images. Despite these benefits, many businesses prefer to employ inertial schemes because they do not have any equipment or site restrictions.

Another crucial technology is gesture control, which uses three techniques: motion capture scheme own gesture capture, independent gesture capture scheme, and preset gesture selection. Whether the controller should be used by an actor or controlled by a different party was the principal criterion for selecting such a scheme. 

This technology allows virtual idols to make more intricate and precise gestures. The interactions between idols and audiences can be enhanced by these gestures.


Real idols are unable to perform many tasks that virtual idols can. Although they are less expensive than human idols, they have more potential in various sectors and can generate high revenues.

A virtual idol has found widespread use as a technology carrier because of its benefits. They have received interest from a variety of areas as a new market. For efficiency and financial gain, many businesses nowadays, not just those in the entertainment industry, have introduced their virtual idols. 

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