Friday, August 19, 2011

Fresh Faces: AKBN 0, Fundraising Idols.

Fresh Faces: AKBN 0, Fundraising Idols.

AKBN 0 [Akabane Zero] is a young in terms of active years Indie idol unit based in the Akabane area of Tokyo .The group is a fundraising idol unit ,which means they openly expose their revenues to their fans by having the members revenue sales totals announced at events.

On the surface, that seems harmless right. , well it depends on how you look at it and you have to look at this unit from several angles and each angle will bring different feelings. While there are some clear artistic references between AKBN 0 and AKB48, from a business standpoint, there is no relationship. Name and costumes do not count, those type names were being used 30 yrs before AKB48 started and school uniforms are high value moneymaking wota fetishes. No one in this country cares about the name or artistic references of any group sounding like AKB48 and you should not.

So just what are they then?
AKBN 0 stands for Akabane zero budget , meaning they have a zero start-operating budget for each member.

Fundraising idols are idols that have found a way to take advantage of the fact that wotas will spend money and lots of it on idols and more or less have put the members in a never-ending revenue senbatsu.

The general set up for AKBN 0 is as follows.

To pass the final stage of the audition members hold an auction on Yahoo selling personal items [tennis clothes, etc, handmade items, photos] to reach at least 20,000 yen in sales for each member. If you pass whatever value the management has placed on the individual hopeful, you make the group. Having talent really is not important, just being cute and a way to melt the hearts of wotas to feel sorry for you is. Fundraising idols often tell stories of "if I fail, I`ll have to give up my dream of being an idol" .This is a fish hook in the mouth of a wota, who if they take a liking to the idol, will feel it`s their duty to help the idol reach her dream.

For this unit everything they do comes with a retirement penalty hanging over their head, resulting in some of the more talented members retiring from the group for falling short of sales requirements to stay in the group.

After passing this Yahoo stage, you have to sale 50,000-yen worth of event tickets on the streets of Shibuya. If a member cannot meet the amount of the sales, then that member immediately has to retire and leave the group.

From here it is your standard merchandise public events were the girls sale their goods, take payment for handshake lines, go in a print club booth with you again for a price and make sticker photos.

As part of their operating plan, you can for 10,000-yen "date" a member for 30 minutes. This is misleading as it`s really not a "date", it`s a 30 minute one on one conversation or escorting her on a shopping trip or a ice-cream trip, while management is watching your every move.

This is taken from maid cafe idols, this is very common in their world as is many of the, self-sales of merchandise is common for Indie idols and maid cafe idols.

While these "dates" are harmless, for an idol it`s like stealing candy from a baby. What wota in their right mind would not pay to sit with Sayumi of Morning Musume for 30 minutes? Just like the Shibuya event, these fan meetings also carry a certain money total to stay in the group and a running score is kept on the idols monthly sales totals.

The "dating" angle works for this unit as in one single event they drew 560,000 yen just from the "dates"and one member who I shall keep her nameless ,out of respect for her managed to bring in 120,000 yen .

There is a limit to the fundraising mission as the group has a list of goals to achieve such as reaching KĊhaku Uta Gassen and each new mission the amount of funds the members have to raise gets higher.

If you view Akabane Zero for what they truly are, then they are nothing more then a fresh faced unit . This fundraising idol style will only work for as long as the wotas feel it`s in their best interest to play the game or the members continue to buy into it ,which is true for all idol units and fortunately for this unit and idols in general, wotas spend large sums of yen a year on idols . That is not to say that it does not have it drawbacks. Talented members ,who may not be good sales targets for wotas get removed ,weakening your unit .A few members have taken the 30 minute pretend dates and worked it into real unsupervised dates and ended up suspended for a bit .Members have left to join other Indie Idol units.

I am not going to sit here and say, what their management company is doing is right or wrong. As someone who has Indie Idol groups under employment, who are working hard to find their place in this genre, I completely understand out of the box thinking. Does this mean that I support everything their management is doing? , no I don`t, but it does not prevent me from wanting to support the success of these girls as idols, be it with Akabane Zero or with another unit.

In the end, I wish nothing but the best for the members. After all, they already had one member, who has her future fallback job lined up. See fan event video -Momo-chan A.K.A. Machine Gun Idol, now former member as Momo-Chan couldn’t meet sales numbers .Momo-Chan is a perfect idol type and is a big H!P fan ,who knows she just maybe a future member ,she’s only 14 . Like I said earlier this system they use has its drawbacks.

A part of me ,the more I think about this forced retirement system of marketing can`t help but to feel sorry for the idols in a way . The number of members that have left in one year is almost as big as the number of members left in the group. Thankfully ,for the ones who have left, a good number have ended up in other Indie groups, which do not use this system and starting to become popular.

One of the difficult things about AKBN 0 is that there is more media focus on their system , the ”dates”, forced retirement ,their very clear and open AKB48 references  and less on the group .When you look at the group it`s a really good group.

AKBN 0 Fan Event

Why Momo-chan failed beats me ,she never left home without packing her toys.

Idol Date



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