The bizarre otaku-driven economics of Japan’s best-selling “music” group AKB48 are again turning heads, with a vast torrent of unwanted CDs flooding the second-hand market at landfill prices even as the voting tickets they accompanied command top-dollar.
Sayonara Crawl sold 1.763 million copies in its first week, but just to how many buyers is not known – though the indications are that it was far fewer than 1.7 million, and that they were not much interested in the group’s amazing musical talent.
For those not simply dumping their unwanted CDs in the trash, so many CDs are being dumped on the second-hand market that prices have collapsed to absurdly low levels, with reports of discs going unsold at 1 yen each and successful auctions of 65 copies for 1 yen (or “0.015385 yen per disc”).
Yahoo! Auctions is indeed still flooded with offers of CDs (minus “specials”) at rock bottom prices, as well as many more significantly more expensive offers of the “specials” in ready-to-use condition minus the worthless CDs.
Even Amazon Marketplace sees prices bottoming out at 47 yen per CD (stripped of extras) – far less than the cost of shipping them anywhere but the local tip:
Intact new discs still command 1,298 yen prices on Amazon.
A secondary job market also seems to be springing up around the menial labour of processing the vast numbers of voting tickets – one ad for data entry work posted on 2ch offers “5 yen per voting ticket serial number entered,” and apparently enjoyed a deluge of applicants:
The non-AKB buying majority looks to be taking a dim view of their brilliant marketing shenanigans, typically condemned as “wasteful” and “wilfully distorting Japan’s music charts.”
Many wonder why they still refuse to just sell the votes directly online – although as this would not only rob them of their free use of Japan’s music charts as a promotional tool and might also reveal some uncomfortable truths about the actual extent of their popularity, it seems an unlikely eventuality.