Visual kei collectors and concert-goers are bound to be familiar with cheki — the tiny Polaroid photos you can purchase of your favorite band members. They’re popular because they’re one-of-a-kind, often autographed, and serve as a nice memento of the lives fans have been to. Prices can vary for cheki, especially bought second-hand, but the current industry standard for new cheki purchased at a live is ￥500.
Kiryu announced last month that their cheki prices would be going up to ￥1000 for each cheki. This price raise began on April 1st. While this is not unheard of, it’s certainly a rare and steep price for a small photograph. However, it turns out there’s a good reason the band is raising its prices. Guitarist Takemasa Kujo took to confronting fans head-on by writing about the issue at length in his Ameblo:
Home – Sunny
Mitsuki went ahead and made an update regarding the price raise for cheki.
If you’ve read Mitsuki’s post, you may well already understand, but Kujo-san hopes you’ll indulge him in bringing it to you straight from his own mouth.
We have humbly decided to raise the going price of the cheki we’ve been selling at our live events, which have been 500 yen apiece since our formation, to 1000 yen each.
This may come as something of a shock to many of you, and it may be that a great number of you feel bewildered.
In truth, we’ve worried very much over this, and had meeting after meeting in order to discuss it.
Whether or not everyone will assent to this is still unclear, but I would be happy were you to at least glance over this article.
It was around last year (perhaps?) when we started getting concerned over whether we should raise prices or not.
The number of cheki photographs we took at each live was beginning to fall behind the number we sold per day.
On live days, aside from equipment setup, rehearsal, and hair-and-makeup sessions, we were constantly having cheki photo sessions.
The number of cheki a given member could take in a single day was sometimes far outstripped by the demand for cheki on the day of a live.
For the sake of our guests who couldn’t buy cheki before they sold out, we started to establish planned photo sessions days during gaps in our schedule,
But one day, Mahiro started to complain that his eyes were in bad shape. They were aching due to eyestrain, because of repeated exposure to the camera flash.
It feels just a little awkward for the news of his illness to come from Kujo-san’s mouth, but just for now…
Since birth, he has lived with an eye condition called Retinitis pigmentosa.
That, plus countless exposures to flashes after he’d already been wearing color contacts.
Maybe even Kujo-san himself has felt his eyes get a little bit worn out from all the photography, so in Mahiro’s case, the symptoms must be a different animal altogether.
At the time we first heard from Mahiro, we judged that it was best to leave off until later the fact that we shouldn’t try to take any more cheki photographs than we do now, and the question of whether we might be forced to reduce the amount we take.
But if we were to cut down on our cheki, the delicate balance between supply and demand would crumble.
There would still be customers wanting to buy cheki, but since we couldn’t produce enough to sell, we wouldn’t be able to sell them.
So what were we supposed to do?
We also hit on the idea of imposing a limit on how many cheki each customer could buy.
Merchandise sales at a live can only take place within certain restricted times.
There’s live day midday selling, show-opening selling, and show-closing selling.
Even within those time restrictions, live houses generally have a set closing time.
Or, put another way, we must finish selling our merchandise before closing time arrives.
If people start lining up again thanks to the limited selling, things start to take too long, and we can’t keep to the set closing time.
As with 2-shot cheki photo sessions, we also thought of a countermeasure involving having customers line back up according to wristbands, but it would take a long time to check the wristbands, and we’d still end up taking too long.
We even thought about getting more staff to do the checks, but considering that we prefer to play at smaller venues like live houses rather than bigger ones, there is a limit to how much the staff could increase.
And so, for the reasons described above, we have decided to raise the price of our cheki.
Even so, there may well be very many customers still dissatisfied with our choice.
We are well aware that 1000 yen is not a small price to ask for cheki.
We are not saying, and cannot and will not say, “go buy them anyway!” We are also aware that there may be many customers who will (or can) no longer buy cheki, and we knew this going in.
To be blunt, we also considered that all this being the case, it might have been better to simply stop selling cheki.
Or rather, for an hour or two, we thought giving up on cheki would be the answer to our problems.
But in the end, figured that wasn’t quite right, and decided to raise the prices.
Kujo-san himself was against the idea of ceasing cheki sales.
As for why: after a good deal of thought on just why certain fans buy cheki,
the conclusion was that some fans simply buy them because they like them, and others genuinely enjoy collecting them.
Fans that look so happy while they talk about what cheki they got, fans that have so much fun showing them to us. Seeing them enjoy the process so much brings such fun and happiness.
And even besides that, there seem to be plenty of people out there that purchase cheki only because they want to support Kiryu-san.
We would have hated to refuse the good will of those wonderful fans.
On the other hand, we are no longer able to produce cheki as much as (or more than) before, so with great apologies to our fans, we realize that lowering the number of cheki also increases their value.
What’s more, according to this price raise, if it should appear that we are inviting unnecessary troubles upon our fans, we will consider never selling cheki again.
Kujo-san himself is most worried about whether, following the raise, people might try and resell the cheki we have produced already (and the ones we will produce hereafter) at higher prices than they originally went for. That is not our intent.
As such, we have decided to institute the price raise on April 1st, the day when the ban on new costumes is lifted. (We apologize for lifting the ban so casually.)
The raise will be effective on cheki in our Akatsuki Uta Suigetsu (暁歌水月) costumes.
We do not know whether this explanation will be enough for you to agree.
But at least for Kujo-san, and Kiryu-san, and our office staff, we spoke long and hard before reaching this decision.
We know this would be difficult to accept right away, but we certainly hope for your acceptance.
It sounds like the members have thought very long and hard about their decision before making it, but do you think it was the right one? If you’re a fan of Kiryu, are you still interested in cheki after this development?
Translation: Adventure Tim
Source: Takemasa’s Ameblo