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Utaite (歌い手) 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), which means "singer" in general.
Generally, utaite do cover songs for VOCALOID original songs, anime and game related songs, and J-Pop. They also do parodies with different lyrics for popular songs, intended for amusement.
Most utaite exclusively cover songs and upload under the utattemita section, but some of them have doujin circles and release original music/drama CDs during events like Comic Market and VOCALOID M@ster, frequently referred to as Comiket and VoMas respectively. A few utaite also have become partly or wholly professional singers and have released/will release their albums under official labels. Some examples are Valshe, Piko, clear, 96Neko, and Lon.
Occasionally, Utaite may collaborate with each other, forming pairs or groups that they collaborate in. Many Utaite have people they collaborate with often, such as clear with nero or Usa with Yamai. There are many famous duet songs, such as magnet and famous group songs, notably Smiling. Collaborations differ from Awasetemita (合わせてみた, lit. "Tried to combine"), more commonly known as Nico Nico choruses, in that collaborators give consent and actively participate, whereas choruses are created by a separate party after the utaite involved have uploaded their own covers.
Recently, utaite appearing in concerts and live events have also become popular and have become more prolific and public. Most of these singers perform on Nico Nico Live concerts or Nico Farre, though several like Piko, having gone major, perform in their own right.
Mixing and encodingEdit
An utaite's wonderful covers are attributed not only to his or her beautiful rendition but also because of the dexterous mixing and encoding of the song so that it sounds high-quality. There are some utaite who mix their own songs and may also mix for other utaite. Many covers, however, are mixed by users on NND who specifically mix and/or encode utattemita.
Producers as UtaiteEdit
VOCALOID producers are people involved in composing original songs or tuning VOCALOID to cover existing songs. Some of these people also sing and upload their covers under the utattemita category. A famous producer whom also sings is Tourai. Utattemita sung by producers in Nico Nico Douga are categorized under the tag "Utau P Series" (歌うPシリーズ) which literally means "singing producers series".
For more information on producer utaite see here