On Thursday, organizers announced the 2020 lineup for arguably the most-hyped music festival in the world: Coachella.
As rumored, Rage Against the Machine, Frank Ocean, and Travis Scott are set to headline the April event — but sharing the stage with some of the biggest artists alive today will be one who isn’t alive at all: virtual pop star Hatsune Miku.
Miku is a blue-haired, computer-generated “vocaloid” powered by software created by Japanese media company Crypton Future Media in 2007. Anyone can buy the software, use it to create a song in Miku’s “voice,” and upload the track to the internet.
As Crypton’s global marketing director Guillaume Devigne recently told GQ, some of the songs became so popular that they cracked the music charts in Japan. In 2010, a compilation of Miku tracks was even the number one album in the nation.
Miku has made other serious inroads into the music industry. She’s opened for Lady Gaga and goes on world tours as a hologram, performing a setlist comprising the best of the user-created songs, as well as tracks commissioned specifically for her.
While Miku might be the only hologram on Coachella’s 2020 lineup, she won’t be the first virtual artist to perform at the fest — in 2012, it famously brought the likeness of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur to the stage for a virtual performance.
But that two-song set lasted just five minutes and was powered by a centuries’ old optical illusion — a far cry from the cutting-edge tech that will bring Miku to life at Coachella.
“There’s a whole team who’s there to do the prep, control the visuals, and if something goes wrong we have to move really quick,” Devigne told GQ. “There’s a whole system to be able to be responsive and be able to coordinate the digital aspect with the human aspect.”