Let’s differentiate between a Vocaloid, a Fanloid, an Utauloid, and an utaite.
So, I too got confused when I was still new to Vocaloid back in 2011. After hearing about the technology and my fascination after hearing a few songs. I thought that the Crypton Vocaloids: Miku, Kaito, Meiko, Luka, Rin and Len were the ‘official’ ones and the rest were fan-made. I can’t be blamed, they’re usually the ones that came out when searching for Vocaloid (at least for me at that time). Well, after being clarified about fanloids, derivatives and especially UTAUloids. I was kinda embarrassed and I now knew that there was a lot more to cover about Vocaloid than just Vocaloid itself.
Okay, while the picture above already explains pretty what they are, let me put in my own input as well.
Go check out VOCALOID 101 for this one.
I did come across this video which extensively covers further what I’ve previously mentioned and much more which is Vocaloid concerts!
We also happen to share the way how we got interested in Vocaloid which is the technology.
Previously, I mentioned about characters in Vocaloid and how some are official and while others are fan-made. Oftentimes, when an official character gets popular, fan-mades usually come out based on that character. It sometimes goes the other way around: a fan-made character could be adopted to become an official character.
As mentioned in the picture, fanloids are fan-made characters made by the Vocaloid community, usually based on an actual Vocaloid, wherein they do not have an official voicebank which can consider them a Vocaloid (not to be confused with an UTAUloid, more on that later)
However, I would like to clarify a few points on fanloids: there are actually different kinds of fan-made Vocaloids as well. We have derivatives wherein these are characters that are based from the original character. Examples of these are Hachune Miku and Tako Luka.
We also have genderbends which are basically the male/female counterpart of an actual Vocaloid whose voice parameters were adjusted to sound their opposite gender. Even Rin and Len have their genderbends which are named Rinto and Lenka respectively.
And finally, we have fan-made characters whose design elements are borrowed from another Vocaloid or were based on events related to the Vocaloid community. The most well-know examples are and often mistaken to be actual Vocaloids (like I did initially) are Yowane Haku and Akita Neru.
Anyone can make their own UTAUloid, there are many (and I mean many) out there including my own UTAUloid named Wajima Maro and his genderbend Mari which you can check out at the VrmL UTAU Project website. *wink*
Kasane Teto is among the most popular UTAUloids whose character was initially made as an April Fool’s joke for being Crypton’s next Vocaloid. Since then, her voice was recorded for UTAU and she has been licensed by TWINDRILL. She was then ‘adopted’ by Crypton the same way fanloids did.
Among the fan-made content made based from the original Vocaloid works are the songs sang by a human singer.
Aside from the definition mentioned above, the following is an excerpt from the Utaite Wiki which also explains what an utaite does.
Utaite (歌い手 utaite) is a Japanese term for people who cover previously released songs and post them on Nico Nico Douga and YouTube under the utattemita category. The term “utaite” is unique to Nico Nico Douga singers, making it different from “kashu” (歌手 kashu), which means “singer” in general.
Most utaite exclusively cover songs and upload under the utattemita section, but some of them have doujin circlesand release original music/drama CDs during events …. A few utaite also have become partly or wholly professional singers and have released/will release their albums under official labels.
Simply put, they are ‘internet human singers’ who post their covers online. Due to the popularity of Vocaloid in Japan, they have also began singing Vocaloid songs. Among the niconico utaite are 96Neko and that. Some Vocaloid producers are also utaite like DECO*27 and halyosy.
Since I have anyways introduced you further into the Nico Nico culture where most of the original and fan-made Vocaloid content is. Better be familiar with some of the terms often used there.
My personal advice: I highly encourage to use the English version of niconico now that it’s here for your activities especially commenting. It is still a Japanese-dominated site after all and to make online comments in English on the Japanese version of the video player is considered rude to the native Japanese users.
And with that, I hope you can now easily identify which is a Vocaloid, a fanloid, an UTAUloid, or a Utaite. Until next time!
Author's note: This article originally appeared on my personal blog on October 2013 then it was hosted on The Vocaloid Center. I've updated it a bit to reflect recent developments.