On December 22nd, music producer Tsunku held a press conference for the idol training cafe, “AKIHABARA Backst←→age pass“, at the cafe itself.
“Since this room will be packed with all different sorts of dreams, we’d like to show different kinds of entertainment,” said Tsunku of the cafe. He then added with confidence, “Our rival is Disneyland.”
Although it’s been widely said that the cafe’s greatest competition will be Akihabara-based idol group AKB48, Tsunku showed his professionalism by saying, “Rather than competing with them, let’s all do our best so that we can enliven Japan.”
Visitors to the cafe will be issued an employee ID card to the imaginary management company, “Ruaido Geinousha”, a play on words of the word ‘idol’ (aidoru). As ‘producers’, any foods, drinks, or goods purchased in the cafe will earn the customer “Producer Value Points”, which they can then use to support their ‘oshimen‘ out of the cafe’s workers. Aspiring idols working at the cafe will be given booking preference for outside activities if they accrue a high number of points. As customers climb through the ten “Producer Ranks”, they will be able to earn more points and therefore contribute more to these potential idols.
Many individuals in the music industry have been thinking of ways to tackle the issue of declining CD sales, and Tsunku decided that the solution may be outside of the box. He said he thought up the idea in hopes of creating “a space where music can be experienced”, and – together with his friend and multi-creator Shikura Chiyomaru – began working on the idol training cafe two years ago.
“If we can’t create culture, what happens to Japan’s J-Pop? We feel that it is our responsibility to support new formats,” expressed Tsunku. “After one or two years, we’d like to be able to put out well-trained stars.”
Out of the 1,000+ applicants who applied to work at the cafe, 80 were carefully chosen by Tsunku himself to be potential idols. “We held an audition the same way we did with Morning Musume,” he said, explaining the process by which the employees were chosen. “They have infinite potential.” Tsunku also revealed that he’s even considering collaborations with existing Hello! Project groups.
“I’d like to reveal one [idol] by next summer. We’ll be doing our best so that the stars of the near future can be born, so we would love it if everyone could support us as producers,” said Tsunku.
A special live was also held by the opening staff, who performed the Morning Musume classic “LOVE Machine” for the crowd. The cafe officially opened on December 23rd.