Guest Speaker: Hirofumi Mukaino and Hideki Kenmochi, Yamaha Corporation

Jun 2, 2014

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Two executives from Yamaha Corporation, Hirofumi Mukaino and Hideki Kenmochi, spoke to students at Professor Yoshi Fujikawa's service management class on May 9.

Mr Kenmochi, who is head of development at Yamaha for Vocaloid, a voice synthesising software application, spoke to the students about how he had addressed internal and external opportunities and challenges in order to turn Vocaloid into a growing business.

Mr Kenmochi began developing Vocaloid in 2000 and brought it to the market in 2004. Initial sales of the technology, which creates high-quality computer-generated singing voices, were not promising, and the Vocaloid team didn't feel particularly proud of themselves within the company. Fortunately, by 2007, Vocaloid became a big hit, thanks to the boom in social media and online video-sharing websites, such as niconico and YouTube, which enabled amateur musicians to spread their music world-wide.

Earlier this year, Mr Kenmochi was contemplating the future of Vocaloid. While Yamaha's partner developers, such as Crypton Future Media, had been cashing in on their Vocaloid-based virtual character businesses (e.g. Hatsune Miku), the situation over at Yamaha was different. Trends in social media and digital technologies began to affect Yamaha's overall corporate strategy, and the company decided to start a new business development initiative called 'yamaha+', with Vocaloid playing a central role as one of the initial projects in the newly formed division.