A few tips from my experience with the game. May or may not keep you from going bankrupt.
A Few Simple Tips
In the early game, you *will* always be losing money. But the amount of money you lose will save or sink your company. Minimizing costs is the best way to make sure that whatever money you have will last you as long as possible, be converted into as many fans as possible, and eventually make you wealthy beyond your wildest dreams.
Stay on one level as long as you can. You need lyrics, a song, choreography, and marketing to release a single, right? And singles are your primary source of revenue, right? But you can’t fit an office, a recording studio, and a dance room all on one floor. But here’s the thing; you don’t actually need all of those. Your main character can theoretically do all four parts of a single on his/her own. That means, on your starting floor, you can place an office in addition to a recording studio or a dance room, and just have your character do the missing piece. This will reduce the quality of each single a bit, but it’ll save you about 40 grand a week in rent. That is a lot of money to save.
In a month, you’ve saved 160,000 yen; a significant fraction of your starting funds. Meanwhile, you can work your idols pretty hard on promotions and business deals, burning through your starting cash to get a beginning fanbase.
Avoid banks like the plague. Interest is the thing that sunk my first few runs. It might seem tempting to suddenly have ten million yen to play around with, but that money is a lie. You’ll quickly realize that the amount of money you’re sending back to the bank far outstrips your ability to generate money, especially in the early game.
You’ll be stuck taking out loans to pay off other loans, which is never anything approaching a good strategy. Instead, view banks as a last resort; once your starting cash is gone, and your bankruptcy timer is heading towards the single digits, then go ahead and take out a loan. But take out as little as you can to stay in the positives.
If your expenses are 300 grand a week, but through singles, performances, and deals you can make roughly 250 grand a week, then take out a loan for a few hundred thousand. The interest will still make your financial situation worse, but the extra bit of time the loan gives you will allow you to scale up your money-making. The first time I beat the game, I took out exactly one loan throughout the game – for one million dollars, within the first year.
Digital releases, ad campaigns, and group handshake events are the only things worth using early-game. Lewd, edgy, and artsy PVs, viral campaigns, and especially fake scandals are massively too risky. It might just be RNGesus deciding to smite me from heaven, but I never once got a good result with any of those.
Digital releases are great because they cost literally nothing; you’ll be using these a *lot* at the start. Group handshake events are also great, because while they have a significant cost in stamina of your idols, they give a bunch of sales, Generally, you can expect to sell between 10-25% more copies than you would on a digital release with a handshake event. Finally, ad campaigns. Once you’re past the initial struggle, and you have a good idea of how many copies each single will sell, these will become your bread and butter. Their success chance is pretty good, and a successful campaign will provide you with more sales and fans than you might know what to do with.
The only thing to watch out for with the ad campaigns and handshake events is over-production. It’s all well and good to make a hundred thousand disks, but if your digital releases are selling five thousand on average, it may be a better idea to aim for something more realistic, like seven or eight thousand disks.