Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) is doubling down on its virtual talent agency, PRISM Project, with the addition of two new acts.
The ‘sixth generation’ talents, Jun Akane and Yuki Kitashiro, will be joining the three ‘Gen 5’ acts that PRISM unveiled over a month ago, according to a press release shared with MBW on Sunday (June 4).
Known as VTubers, these acts are online personalities who conceal their true identities and engage audiences through computer-generated avatars. They are now securing lucrative contracts with major music companies.
Akane and Kitashiro will hold their debut livestreams on June 9, 2023, starting at 7:00 PM US Pacific Daylight Time.
PRISM Project, founded in January 2021, operates as a global agency with headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. It represents 17 musicians, vocalists, gamers, and personalities.
On its website, PRISM describes itself as “a multinational VTuber agency from the future.”
“Our mission at PRISM Project is to create a world where all people on Earth can find something they love and feel happiness every single day.”
With guidance from Sony Music, the agency provides its talents with opportunities in voice acting, music production, online/offline events, and engagement with new digital technologies. The virtual talents primarily engage with their audience through YouTube, offering a wide range of content such as singing, karaoke, gaming, and art.
Back in April, PRISM Project’s producer and spokesperson, known as Shogun, stressed the immense talent and potential within the virtual entertainment space.
“Within the virtual talent space, there are countless incredibly gifted performers who have both the skills and the drive necessary to succeed both in the classic sense as VTubers, but also in traditionally offline business spaces such as the voice acting and musical artist industries,” Shogun said.
Aside from PRISM, SMEJ also operates a virtual talent agency called VEE Virtual Entertainment.
The anime-inspired appearance of PRISM’s virtual artists is no coincidence.
In an interview with MBW in April, SMEJ CEO Shunsuke Muramatsu acknowledged that Japanese anime plays a vital role in introducing Japanese music to a global audience. He believes that virtual artists will continue to rise in popularity, noting that the VEE VTuber project received over 18,000 audition entries in 2021 alone.
The agency said it recently received an overwhelming response during its General Audition 2022, with over 3,000 applications from 21 countries and regions worldwide. Akane and Kitashiro were both handpicked from that audition.
The audition focused on identifying talents with diverse skills, backgrounds, and personal accomplishments, as well as the potential to “push the boundaries” of virtual entertainment, said PRISM. The agency sought individuals who could excel both online and offline, showcasing their abilities and experiences to a global audience.
Akane was designed by designer and illustrator Hiyori Asahikawa. He is described as a cheerful and skilled FPS gamer pirate. He counts Valorant and League of Legends as his favorite online games.
Meanwhile, Kitashiro — an “icy prince and aspiring voice actor” — was designed by Suzuka Oda. Kitashiro’s favorite game is Apex Legends.
Both VTubers have live YouTube, Twitter and TikTok accounts.
PRISM Project also unveiled character images of its sixth-generation talents on its official homepage and Twitter account. A debut trailer featuring the two new talents, voiced by themselves, can be found on PRISM Project’s official YouTube account.
SMEJ is not the only company playing a role in the rise of virtual artists.
Kakao Entertainment, the entertainment division of South Korean internet company Kakao Corp., recently introduced MAVE, a four-member virtual K-Pop girl group.
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