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                                            “I was impressed by the heart-to-
                                         heart communication between Diana
                                         and fans. I became her fan when she                “
                                         read letters from fans and shed tears,”
                                         Guo says.                                I think virtual
                                            So far, Guo has spent RMB ¥1,000
                                         (US $156) on buying animation mer-         singers can
                                         chandises and virtual presents. He up-
                                         loaded A-SOUL’s spoof videos on Bili-     overcome the
                                         Bili in June and August 2021, which
                                         attracted 970,000 total views as of De-   limitation of
                                         cember 7, 2021.                            real singers.
                                            “In fact, A-SOUL’s appearance,vocal
                                         and dance skills are not outstanding    Virtual  singers
                                         compared to other virtual Youtubers.
                                         But they continue to improve. I am   never get tired, and
                                         glad to witness their progress,” Guo
      Li  Jingyuan received  A-SOUL  member   says.                             they can reach a
      Carol’s fan-made doll this October    In the fan group, some fans pro-
      (Photo courtesy of Li Jingyuan)    duce songs for virtual singers. Ste-    very high pitch
                                         ven Tan, a fan of the first Mandarin-
      a virtual singer, represented by Luo   speaking virtual singer Luo Tianyi, is
      Tianyi (洛天依) and Hatsune Miku (    one of them.
      初音未來). Their vocals are synthe-       “As a composer with no reputation               ”
      sised using Yamaha’s Vocaloid, a voice   and not enough budget, it was difficult
      synthesiser software, which allows us-  to find a singer for my compositions.
      ers to pay for voice database and com-
      pose songs.
        The other type is a virtual You-
      tuber or virtual live streamer like A-
      SOUL. Behind the virtual idol, there is
      a real human actor who never shows
      up on camera. By using motion cap-
      ture technology or software, the ac-
      tor’s movements and expressions are
      reflected on the virtual image.
        The scale of the virtual idol indus-
      try in China increased 70.3 per cent
      year on year to RMB ¥3.46 billion (US
      $540 million) in 2020. It is predicted
      to reach RMB ¥6.22 billion (US $970
      million) this year, according to Chi-
      nese data mining and analysis plat-
      form iiMedia Research.

              Love across Screens
        Alex Guo became a fan of A-SOUL
      after watching its member Diana’s
      birthday live streaming on March 7,
      which was his first click on A-SOUL’s
      live channel.                                          Steven Tan’s NetEase CloudMusic page
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