Home Q&A: COVER Corp CEO Motoaki Tanigo on Next Stop in His VTuber Expansion: USA and the World

Q&A: COVER Corp CEO Motoaki Tanigo on Next Stop in His VTuber Expansion: USA and the World

For COVER Corp – the company that established VTubing powerhouses like hololive, HOLOSTARS, hololive Indonesia, hololive English, and HOLOSTARS English, the establishment of a brand-new US subsidiary COVER USA feels like both the latest of many important moves, or the start of a seismic second act.

In a new interview, Anime Corner talks to the head of the world’s biggest VTubing management group, Cover Corp CEO Motoaki Tanigo, about how they view the global market and their aims for expansion. We learn how his company aims to bridge a uniquely Japanese culture to a projected 50 million fans worldwide by the end of the decade.

Q: You’ve recently announced the ambassadors for hololive Meet 2024. How important is it to continue this tradition of connecting talent to old and new fans?

A: I believe it’s important to create opportunities for direct communication between talents who are typically active on streaming platforms like YouTube and their fans. hololive Meet serves as a chance for the talents their to convey gratitude to the fans.

hololive Meet 2024 ambassdors

Q: With initiatives like the ‘holo Indie’, why do you think it is important for COVER to create corporate initiatives to support fan/derivative content?

A: We believe that by taking the initiative in derivative works and UGC [User Generated Content], we can create an environment where UGC creators can receive revenue and continue to produce derivative works/UGC consistently.

Q: We frequently see examples of lore amongst VTubers, do you see lore as a means of, as you put in your stated aims, “competing alongside manga, anime, and games on a global scale” – in a narrative sense? What ideas do you have for scaling this?

A: By having lore, VTubers can not only operate as talent groups on video streaming platforms but also expand as characters in various mediums such as games and anime.

Also read:
Sony’s Verse VTuber Project Releases Lore Video Narrated by Tomori Kusunoki

Q: The West has a different culture to Japan, where VTubing grew from. That might suggest that as you establish a culture “loved by all,” it will be the original Japanese culture necessarily making many of the concessions. Do you see it that way? Is there a fundamental aspect of its Japanese origins you wish to protect, and what’s your attitude to throwing out things that don’t work here?

A: To be loved by everyone, we believe that diversity is essential. By supporting talents from diverse backgrounds, we aim to meet the needs of Japan, Western countries, and other regions.

Q: How do you foresee VTuber culture taking on its distinct flavor in the West?

A: In order for VTubers to be accepted worldwide, we believe it’s necessary for evolution in each country.

Q: We’ve seen your openness to collaborate even with rivals. Would you say that it’s necessary to establish VTubing as a medium abroad first, before trying to win as the first company to truly crack the Western mainstream?

A: We believe that VTubers offer an effective means for creators to engage without showing their faces, and we aim to normalize the acceptance of VTubers as a standard practice.

Q: While VTubing is certainly growing outside of its domestic market, what does COVER Corp have in mind in terms of aiming to break through the mainstream forms of entertainment in the West? What specific touch points are you prioritizing?

A: We aim to increase touchpoints through collaborations with various areas surrounding YouTube such as music, live events, merchandise, gaming, and streamers.

Q: Despite the success hololive is seeing, it is worth noting that there have been multiple VTuber agency/management group shutdowns in the past few months alone. What are the company’s current strategies to keep afloat amidst a bearish entertainment market?

A: Expanding the fan community while concurrently debuting talent is regarded as paramount in our strategy.

Q: Part of COVER Corp’s expansion to the US follows the success of many of hololive’s US initiatives, including its “hololive English 1st Concert -Connect the World-” concert in Los Angeles in July 2023. You’ve also made appearances at anime events like Crunchyroll Expo 2022 and Anime NYC 2023. What can fans expect from hololive in terms of having more events for fans in North America and other markets?

A: Moving forward, we intend to enhance our presence in North America through bolstering concerts, participation in events, and the expansion of pop-up shops and merchandise distribution channels.

【Concert Performance】Connect The World【hololive English Original Song】

Q: We’ve seen the interconnectedness of anime and VTubing with VTubers like Hoshimachi Suisei and Minato Aqua recently collaborating with franchises like Idolmaster and SAO by directly joining the worlds. Which side brought up the ideas, and what were the reasons behind this?

A: VTubers in showcasing games has been recognized, leading to collaborations with prominent game titles at the behest of both the talents themselves and requests from game companies.

Also read:
hololive’s Hoshimachi Suisei Becomes First VTuber To Perform on The First Take

Q: With Calli [Mori Calliope] working with One Piece and recently featured as the ED singer of the new Suicide Squad Isekai anime can we expect more English talents to work within the anime industry?

A: Talents with exceptional skills are able to debut under music labels leveraging promotional support, and COVER Corporation supporting their promotion could potentially work together with anime tie-ups.

Suicide Squad ISEKAI – New Trailer Featuring Ending Theme “Go-Getters” by Mori Calliope

Also read:
Interview: hololive’s Mori Calliope Talks Music, VTubing and More

Q: The recent Hologoe project similarly saw Shirakami Fubuki and popular anime voice actor Aoi Yuki link up. With you highlighting North America’s strong foundation in entertainment and IP as factors for expansion, do you hope to achieve something similar with American celebrities and IP?

A: We also would like to collaborate with popular streamers, content creators, celebrities, and IPs in the United States.

VTuber Shirakami Fubuki and voice actor Aoi Yuuki in Hologoe project

Q: You’ve previously spoken about how when companies get sufficiently large, they need to “invest in defence” – dealing with controversy, and such. Are your systems robust ahead of your expansion into the USA?

A: We are currently in the process of gradually fortifying our defensive setup.

Q: From the perspective of management, what do you think of cases where known/popular VTubers graduate from their agencies and make de-facto redebuts as someone else – given their individual voices, ways of thinking, and mannerisms are important ways of entertaining fans?

A: I believe these are individual choices in each talent’s life journey.

Q: As VTubing becomes more mainstream, Western media will likely focus on the sometimes parasocial aspect of the culture. Fans want to be as close to a talent as possible while preserving that distance behind an avatar. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge that space, and sometimes people have no respect for it – What processes do you have to protect your talent?

A: I believe it’s necessary to protect talents from defamation and harassment to ensure their continued ability to engage in activities.

Q: At the recent hololive x Dreamhack concert, it was really warming to see the Australian Hakos Baelz cry as she returned home to perform in Melbourne. How does hololive and VTubing provide these talents outlets for self-expression?

A: We provide opportunities for talents with expertise in music to engage in activities such as live performances, in addition to their streaming schedule. Similarly, for talents proficient in gaming, we facilitate collaborations with games, and for those skilled in voice acting, we offer opportunities in activities such as anime voice acting.

hololive x DreamHack AU – April 2024

Also read:
Interview: How VTubing Gave Kimie Her Voice Back

Q: The unique fan culture with merch, specific glow sticks, and more – Could we get your view on how hololive also gives fans an outlet for self-expression?

A: I believe that fans, through the use of penlights (glow sticks) at live venues, contribute to enhancing the live experience, demonstrating their form of self-expression.

hololive -Connect the World- (July 2023)

Q: Some fans will solely watch VTubers rather than streamers more generally. How do you explain the unique attraction of the medium?

A: I find the appeal of VTubers lies in their diverse array of talents, spanning beyond streaming to include skills such as music and voice acting. This multifaceted approach to their activities adds to their allure.

Q: COVER Corp announced a massive new studio last year to facilitate “cutting-edge, top-of-the-line motion capture and recording facilities” Some of this cutting-edge was on display at Dreamhack with low latency and high-quality holograms. Could we get a sense of how complicated it is to put on shows like this, technology-wise and organizationally?

A: We are constantly exploring new forms of expression as live events utilizing motion capture technology continue to evolve with advancements in technology.

COVER Corp logo

Q: One figure cited in your statement [launching the new COVER USA subsidiary] was that the total VTubing market is expected to hit 25 trillion globally by 2028. The VTuber market in Japan is currently an estimated 80 billion. In comparison, the anime industry’s global income for 2023 was an estimated 3 trillion. What share of this massive growth do you expect will come from deepening the support from existing fans, versus acquiring new ones?

A: Based on research findings during the period, it is estimated to reach a market value of 2 trillion yen. To further expand the market, I believe acquiring new fans is essential.

Also read:
The Growing VTuber Community

Q: Will this growth happen via an expansion of what you’re currently doing, or by a paradigm shift/development that doesn’t exist now?

A: Similar to the expansion of the market through activities as music artists, there will be paradigm shifts leading to the emergence of new opportunities that do not currently exist.

Q: What are some things that you’d love to innovate within the VTuber space, but you find yourself saying, ‘There isn’t the infrastructure/foundation for this yet?’

A: Upon the widespread adoption of AR glasses, we aim to host AR-format live events in urban settings.

Q: Do you have any concrete figures for ideal long-term growth? How many hololive fans in the West and worldwide do you see by 2030? 2050?

A: We aspire to provide a service that garners support from 50 million viewers/fans by 2030 and 100 million by 2050.

hololive 5th fes. -Capture the Moment- March 2024

Q: What’s your message for 2024 onwards?

A: The experiences provided by VTubers extend beyond YouTube and are increasingly expanding into the real world. While previously, experiences outside of YouTube were primarily centered in Japan due to the impact of COVID-19, starting from 2024, we aim to offer experiences that can be enjoyed by fans worldwide, including North America. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy these experiences.

Interviewers: Chike Nwaenie, Teddy Cambosa, Bushido Samurai, Dali
Assistance: Robert Arroyo (Anime Corner) / Adrian Cheng (Anime Corner)
© 2016 COVER Corp.

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