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Media (Apple) Media Businesses Music

The Insanely Great Songs Apple Won't Let You Hear 341

Posted by Zonk
from the let's-hear-it-for-blumchen dept.
FunkeyMonk writes "Slate.com has an article by Paul Collins explaining that the iTunes music store has thousands of tracks that you can't buy in the U.S. From the article: 'The iTunes Music Store has a secret hiding in plain sight: Log out of your home account in the page's upper-right corner, switch the country setting at the bottom of the page to Japan, and you're dropped down a rabbit hole into a wonderland of great Japanese bands that you've never even heard of. And they're nowhere to be found on iTunes U.S.' The article goes on to mention a few workarounds if you want to purchase foreign tunes. But this brings up a good point — why shouldn't iTunes be the great mythical omniscient music repository where all the world's music is available instantly? Is this simply a marketing decision?"
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The Insanely Great Songs Apple Won't Let You Hear

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  • by barcarolle (581253) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:27AM (#17751198)
    This is just the way the music business works. Apple can't change the fact that labels only license to certain territories. Just like you can go into a music store in Japan and buy thousands of CDs you can't buy elsewhere, Apple's iStore is contractually bound to operate the same way.
    • by hkgroove (791170) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:49AM (#17751592) Homepage
      This is exactly it and it drives me insane, especially with some of the independent (dance) labels. To make it even better, it's not even by label, but by the track. Artist A might sell a track to two different labels - one for the EU and the UK and another label for the US.

      What makes it even more retarded is that the remix / version you want is always on the other label which you're not allowed to buy.

      Most of the other stores are smarter, unfortunately, and you just can't go and change your location. So, you get to have fun finding a proxy that truly is in the territory from where you want to pretend to be.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:56AM (#17752688)
        It's god's way of punishing you for liking dance 'music'.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by 0x15e (961860)
        Interestingly enough, this is a problem I rarely encounter buying physical media. Only the downloads are ever restricted in this manner.

        For instance, I was just yesterday digging in Beatport for an Armin Van Buuren track that was released on Nebula. They had exactly what I wanted but wouldn't sell it to me due to region.

        I figured I had two options: steal it from somewhere or buy the physical record from a store in the states. I bought the record and, as it was on a different label (but still imported), b
      • by mkiwi (585287) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @04:07PM (#17758244)
        Interestingly enough, when ITMS was a year or two old, I was able to buy Frank Zappa music on the store. I got a couple of great albums, so I went back a few months later and did a search for "Frank Zappa." The entire 50 something album collection that was available is not available anymore- at least not in the US.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Blondie-Wan (559212)
          Several months ago Warner bought Rykodisc, which had all the Zappa stuff, and one consequence was that a bunch (all? I'm not sure) of Ryko material disappeared from multiple outlets, not just iTunes, for some sort of accounting transition or something. It's supposed to return to download availability eventually (though presumably not all stores - the Zappa stuff was available at eMusic, for example, but presumably Warner's not about to forget its a major label with major label demands and let a part of its
    • by saskboy (600063)
      The music business works that way, but the Internet doesn't. Mind you, I'm a little perturbed by all of the Asian anime crud showing up in the Top rated category on YouTube lately, so to each his own I guess.
      • by jcr (53032)
        The music business works that way, but the Internet doesn't.

        What's your next guess?

        Online music stores have to abide by the same laws that any other business does. It's not Apple's choice to have a bunch of separate iTMS stores for each country.

        -jcr

      • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:13PM (#17754090)
        Mind you, I'm a little perturbed by all of the Asian anime crud showing up in the Top rated category on YouTube lately, so to each his own I guess.

        What they need is a separate "local top rated" in addition to the "[absolute] top rated."

    • by Nogami_Saeko (466595) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:00AM (#17751756)
      I suppose the bigger question is "why do Japanese labels want people to pirate their music?". Because if you don't offer people a legit way of downloading tracks, then people gravitate to the alternatives.

      Doesn't really bother me much, but makes me curious about their business sense.

      As an aside, Apple/iTunes/publishers also do the same thing with video content that's available to US customers only, and not to people from other geographic regions. The reason? Who knows, but I do know that it's costing them money from people like me that would prefer to purchase it easily rather than using alternatives...
      • by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @11:29AM (#17753244) Journal
        The ironic thing is Japanese bands often do tours of North America and turn up to Animecons. So surely they know there is a market for this sort of thing.
      • by zakezuke (229119) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @11:46AM (#17753602)
        I suppose the bigger question is "why do Japanese labels want people to pirate their music?". Because if you don't offer people a legit way of downloading tracks, then people gravitate to the alternatives.

        All the marketing, none of the support, and no overhead.

        But if the pirates actually create a following, you can then offer media via existing channels, and make a buck.

        Doesn't really bother me much, but makes me curious about their business sense.

        Don't market in a place where a market does not exist. Wait for a market to apear, then take advantage of it. Nothing could be more brilliant.

    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      This is just the way the music business works.

      Correction.

      This is just the way the music business worked or has worked.

      I doubt today that there is anything on iTunes US or Japan that I can't get in hours or at most a week for less than $0.99.

      Does anybody here think this is a hard challenge?

    • This is just another example of the insane way the music business works

      FYP. If you can make any sense out of the notion that you have to get (read: buy) permission to hear song X in each region in which your ears happen to find themselves, you need your head (and prolly ears) examined.

      Region-specific DVDs are the more familiar example; did we as a society just decide to surrender completely to that one?

      • by Antifuse (651387)
        Of course we didn't just surrender completely to that one. Region-free dvd players are one example, as are all the apps out there that let you reset your computer's dvd-region arbitrarily. And Australia's high court ruled that it's legal to sell devices that circumvent region-lockout as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Weedlekin (836313)
        "Region-specific DVDs are the more familiar example; did we as a society just decide to surrender completely to that one?"

        No, we all went out and bought DVD players with publicly-available "no region" hacks and an in-built capability to skip the bits that the DVD makers try and force us to watch ("Millions of people who wouldn't think of driving a combine-harvester through a puppy-farm, setting fire to a children's hospital after welding all the doors shut, or launching an ICBM at Finland commit the immeasu
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lysergic.acid (845423)

        that's not what's going on. what happens is that whoever has rights to the music can sell rights to distribute the music to different distributors. you don't need to buy rights to hear music in different regions, but distributors have to sign contracts so that they are the official distributor of a specified region. this helps a label gain distribution because a large distributor will be more likely to pick up a label if they know that they will be the exclusive distributor for that label in the region they

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:08AM (#17751880) Journal

      True, of course, but iTMS really highlights the problem. Back when the way of selling music was to press it to a record (or other physical medium) and sell it in a shop, it made sense to have different distribution deals for different countries. Company A might have access to retail channels in the USA, while company B might have access to retail channels in the UK. Giving either a worldwide licensing deal would be a problem, since neither would be able to exploit it. Giving both a worldwide deal might cause them to step on each other's toes in some areas, which would be bad for business.

      Amazon started to change the rules. They had almost the same store in a large number of countries. You could even get them to ship products to you from their stores in another country using the same account. They were not bound by the distribution contracts, since they were buying from the authorised distributor and selling them elsewhere.

      The movie industry tried to 'fix' this, rather than embracing it, by introducing region codes. Now, the DVD you bought from the USA wouldn't play on your player (although most stand-alone DVD players sold in the UK are now region-free, laptop drives are often not, which is irritating).

      A bigger problem than music and film, however, is TV shows. These are typically broadcast in one country up to a year before they are syndicated elsewhere. There is no option to buy them legally through any channel[1], but you can download them from the Internet within a few hours of their original release. The movie industry woke up to this and started launching things at the same time worldwide, but the music and TV industries are still stuck in the regional distribution model.

      iTMS simply serves to highlight the fact that entire industries are clinging to an obsolete business model. Now that worldwide distribution is a reality, they are still trying to enforce regional supply chains.


      [1] This, to my mind, means that they should not be protected by copyright. If you intentionally exclude a region, then it is not in the best interests of that region to grant you a monopoly on distribution.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Nevyn (5505) *
        The movie industry woke up to this and started launching things at the same time worldwide

        While I agree with most of what you said, this is obviously wrong. US movies still mostly take a few months to get to the UK, and any UK movies often take more than 6 months to get here. Sure a few very big movies have world wide releases, but then that was happening 10 years ago.

      • by mblase (200735)
        True, of course, but iTMS really highlights the problem.

        Oh, come on. This has been plainly visible since stores started selling online at all. It's not like very many Americans are lining up to buy Japanese music that's not available overseas, but Terry Pratchett fans in the US were complaining for years about the way his novels were available exclusively in the UK for months before that got changed.

        (BTW, it's just iTS now.)

        Back when the way of selling music was to press it to a record (or other physical m
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by zmotula (663798)
        > most stand-alone DVD players sold in the UK are now region-free

        How can this be? I thought that the CSS license required the players to obey the regional restrictions.
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:08AM (#17751884) Homepage
      I think the other reason they don't let people buy tracks from other countries is because the pricing is different. In Canada a song costs $CDN 0.99. However in the US, the tracks cost $US 0.99. So you could buy a track for about $US 0.85 if the Americans were allowed to buy tracks in Canada. I'm not sure what the prices are in the UK. If they are GBP 0.99 then I don't think anybody would be shopping there if they had the ability to go to the Canadian store and buy tracks there.
      • by zentec (204030) * <<moc.liamg> <ta> <cetnez>> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:26AM (#17752176)
        If you do that, make sure you do it with gift cards and not a credit card. Your $.99 Canadian iTunes purchase will result in a $3.00 foreign currency exchange fee on your credit card. Plus, the $.99 for the song.

        • If you do that, make sure you do it with gift cards and not a credit card. Your $.99 Canadian iTunes purchase will result in a $3.00 foreign currency exchange fee on your credit card. Plus, the $.99 for the song.

          If that's not hyperbole, then you should look at getting another credit card. The two cards I use for foreign transactions both charge me 2.89% of the purchase price (which is high in my opinion) plus a slightly-higher than market exchange rate for such transactions. I think paying an extra $0.0

        • by Storlek (860226)
          Yep, iTunes gift cards are the way to go.
          Just get a handful of them for whatever country you want, create an account in that country's iTunes store, with any old address, as long as it's in that country. Log in, and you can get whatever music you want, no credit card needed! Or even forego the gift card if you're just looking for free downloads.

          (I think you can get Japanese iTunes gift cards from jlist.com, but the site's acting up right now so I can't confirm this.)
  • Nothing new... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sugapablo (600023) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:28AM (#17751216) Homepage
    Back in the 60's, British and US releases had different songs on them.

    British had "With the Beatles" while an album with slightly different tracks called "Meet the Beatles" came out in the US.

    The British version of "Are You Experienced?" by Hendrix had additional songs, such as "Red House" which the record company felt would go over better in Britain than the US, even though it was a straight blues track and blues was born in the US. *shrugs*

    So while in the age of the internet, this seems silly, it's nothing new.
    • by hackstraw (262471) *
      Back in the 60's, British and US releases had different songs on them.

      British had "With the Beatles" while an album with slightly different tracks called "Meet the Beatles" came out in the US.

      The British version of "Are You Experienced?" by Hendrix had additional songs, such as "Red House" which the record company felt would go over better in Britain than the US, even though it was a straight blues track and blues was born in the US. *shrugs*

      So while in the age of the internet, this seems silly, it's nothin
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by butlerdi (705651) *
        The reason that the name was changed and an additional song or two added , different artwork whatever, was so that you went out and bought the "import" version as well....
        • by hackstraw (262471) *
          The reason that the name was changed and an additional song or two added , different artwork whatever, was so that you went out and bought the "import" version as well....

          If that is true (I doubt it), that is a poor marketing decision. The label does not make any more money off of imports, the markup is really because it is imported. Remember, label's customers are distribution outlets, not you. You are there just to consume, be sued, or do nothing...

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by NekSnappa (803141)

        Back in the 60s if you bought music, you pretty much had to listen to at least 1/2 an album at a time.

        Actually I remember my older sisters having boxes of 45 rpm singles. It wasn't until cassettes and 8-track became predominate in the early 70's that you almost had to buy the whole collection of songs that comprised an album.

        • Re:Nothing new... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by hackstraw (262471) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @11:17AM (#17752998)
          Actually I remember my older sisters having boxes of 45 rpm singles. It wasn't until cassettes and 8-track became predominate in the early 70's that you almost had to buy the whole collection of songs that comprised an album.

          Singles were a marketed item until the advent of the CD. Now that we have digital formats, the record labels simply don't want to sell singles at all. They even fought Apple, the leader in MP3 player sales, to "let" them sell MP3 singles, and then would only let them do it at a high price with DRM. Buying a Beatles single is still either impossible or very limited.

          An interesting piece of trivia here. Albums, with respect to music, mean a collection (like a photo album). Back "in the day" an album was a few 78 RPM discs bundled together. It wasn't until the advent of the 12" LP (long play) 33.3 RPM discs that an album was able to fit on one consumer playable media. That is why albums, records, vinyl, etc are synonymous.

  • by necro81 (917438) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:30AM (#17751248) Journal
    One possible reason why that insanely great band from Japan (love the hyperbole, by the way) can't have its songs show up in the U.S. version of iTMS is that the label that produced the music hasn't licensed Apple to sell it in the U.S. I'm not sure why that would be, but there are all kinds of idiotic details in music contracts. There may also be weird export and tariff issues at stake - different country, different laws. Ever notice that the import version of a CD on amazon tends to be 2x-3x more expensive than the domestic release, if you can even find it?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by KDR_11k (778916)
      the label that produced the music hasn't licensed Apple to sell it in the U.S. I'm not sure why that would be

      Possibly because the label itself doesn't have rights to distribute the material in the US. There's often different publishers for different regions on the same medium.
      • by russ1337 (938915) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:39AM (#17751426)
        >>>"Possibly because the label itself doesn't have rights to distribute the material in the US. There's often different publishers for different regions on the same medium."

        OR, think of the outrage from the industry if a Japanese track made #1 on the US charts.
        • by faust2097 (137829)
          Fortunately for the major labels they have the US pop charts completely sewn up and it's impossible to have a #1 single without giant piles of marketing money and *cough* "independent promotional fees".
        • by Technician (215283) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @11:35AM (#17753388)
          It has already happeded.

          http://www.maddmansrealm.com/sukiyaki/ [maddmansrealm.com]

          "His biggest hit, Ue o Muite Aruko (I Look Up When I Walk; "Sukiyaki" in the West), was released in Japan in 1961. After its release in the U.S. in 1963, the song's earnestness and melodic beauty proved irresistible despite its incomprehensible lyrics. Against all odds, on June 15, 1963, the song ousted Leslie Gore's "It's My Party" to become the No. 1 popular song in the U.S."

          Japan has lots of great music. While I was there I bought a few albums. Some I could not even tell you who the artist is or the name of the album because there is not any english printing on it. The record stores would frequently play albums and display the album playing. This is how I found and bought some great music.
          • by Technician (215283)
            If you want to check the Japanese track that topped the US charts, check the link in the parent and scroll down. The original version is posted as well as many many many remakes including the English version. Enjoy.

            Maybe iTunes doesn't sell them is they sometimes are posted for free after the copyright expired unlike in the US where the extension act will make it sure I will expire first.
    • "Voice of the People"

      The point of publicizing this is not that it's happening, it may be that if enough consumers say "Hey, why not let us have the access to purchase that" the companies involved will work something out. So the article could be trying to get the word out so /.'ers and other iTunes users contact Apple and demand access.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by retrosteve (77918)
      My question is -- if I buy a Japanese CD through iTunes US, will I have to pay an "Import" price on it? Will it cost me 3x as much?

      Can I get the "domestic" price by switching to the iTunes Japan site?

      Are the bits cheaper that way?

      Well, of course not, since everything costs the same on iTunes. But I bet the labels would prefer it this way. This may be why those "import" tunes are just unavailable on the US store instead.
    • by JulesLt (909417)
      And quite often it's the bands - typically the bands manager will ensure the publishing and distribution contracts are limited to specific territories. One reason behind that is that when you start out as an unknown in your home territory, it's difficult to negotiate a great contract, but once you've got success, you can get better deals in a second territory. Of course, these days the nature of the business has changed dramatically - but I think it would be wrong for Apple to force publishing companies (an
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Llywelyn (531070)
      Ever notice that the import version of a CD on amazon tends to be 2x-3x more expensive than the domestic release, if you can even find it?

      It actually is often cheaper to order the CD from the local amazon (e.g., amazon.jp) and have it ship them to you.

  • by dorzak (142233) <dorzak@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:30AM (#17751250) Journal
    Isn't it the record labels limited things?

    I seem to have seen a post about that at some point on Apple's discussions boards.

    From that, iTunes works with the whoever hold the distributions rights in that country. If those bands don't have a U.S. distributor.

    One band I like "Growing Old Disgracefully" recently made the jump from the U.K., to the U.S. iTunes store by working with CD Baby.
    • by KFW (3689) * on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:37AM (#17751386)
      Exactly. Apple/iTunes is an easy target, but they're obliged by their contract. This is the same reason that iTunes was available in different countries at different times - it took a while to negotiate the contracts (even in the EU each country's music distributor had to be negotiated with seperately). Honestly, do you think Apple wants to turn away money? I don't believe iTunes is the only store with this issue. So while there are a lot of legitimate complaints about iTunes (esp. the DRM, which isn't entirely driven by the studios), this article was just a cheap shot at an easy target.
      /K
  • The folks in charge of the music industry have a view formed by decades of paying for bands to record, then pressing a bunch of records. That makes a barrier to carrying an artists' work. Currently, the only barrier is the addition of more data to a database - nearly zero cost.
  • by Holmwood (899130) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:30AM (#17751274)
    Music is licensed on a per-country basis. Often, different organizations/people hold the rights in different countries. A Canadian band, for instance, might keep (or buy back) Canadian rights, but a major label would have the US rights, and a Europeans subsidiary of that label -- or another label altogether -- might have the European rights.

    Selling all music globally is something no one's ready for legally, and probably won't be for years, given the glacial rate at which the *AA's seem to be evolving to embrace new technologies and opportunities.

    Holmwood.
  • by foxtrot (14140) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:32AM (#17751290)
    Apple has contracts with various record houses that allow Apple to sell their music.

    Sadly, while the Internet is world-wide and country borders are merely speedbumps, the legal world hasn't figured that one out yet...

    So their deals with Japanese record houses probably only allow Apple to sell their music in Japan.

    Seems short-sighted to me. If you're making a deal with the guys who sell 80% of the online music sold, why not let them sell to as many people as possible instead of holding back rights? You get a cut on each...
  • Ever song is licensed by a different company in different geographical regions. Those firms are typically under an international umbrella group, but that doesn't change anything. General Electric Canada sells different products than General Electric (US), and no-one finds that odd, so I'm not sure why anyone would be remotely surprised here.

    Maury
  • by realinvalidname (529939) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:34AM (#17751330) Homepage

    JList/JBox [jbox.com] has been selling Japanese iTunes [jbox.com] cards for some time, and frequently advertise them in their ads in magazines like NewType USA. Right next to the hentai/bishoujo games and Domo-kun plushies.

  • by MacBoy (30701) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:36AM (#17751368)
    I mean come on! Do you really think it has anything to do with Apple itself not letting you hear the song? Oh yes, Apple engages in musical censorship. It's the record companies, people. If a band doesn't have a record distribution deal in the US, then guess what! you can't buy their music on iTunes either.
  • by dschuetz (10924) <slash AT david DOT dasnet DOT org> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:38AM (#17751416) Homepage
    why shouldn't iTunes be the great mythical omniscient music repository where all the world's music is available instantly? Is this simply a marketing decision?

    It *should* be a simple, global, find-it-and-buy-it repository. Unfortunately, the way that copyright has been worked, the right to sell a particular work (music, movie, tv show) only extends to a country's borders. If you want to sell that work in another nation, you have to somehow acquire the rights to sell there as well.

    This used to be a real problem trying to buy import albums and CDs. If a particular overseas-only album had a local rights-owner who didn't have the title in print, that rights-owner could prevent you from importing the CD for purchase. (Naturally, they could also prevent you from importing if they *did* have it in print, but generally then you wouldn't want the import in the first place.) This didn't always happen in practice, but it did make things more difficult at times.

    Today, they try to restrict trans-national media purchases via things like region coding.

    Honestly, I think this is another of the ridiculously outdated aspects of copyright law that really needs to change. In my mind, if I purchase a legally-produced copy of a CD or DVD (or iTunes download), then somehow, somewhere, somewhen the artist was compensated for that purchase. Maybe not directly, and maybe not for that exact purchase, but at some point the artist's rights to sell the track were transfered to someone else who got money from me. It shouldn't matter if I'm buying a German pressed CD while visiting in Japan and holding a US passport. As long as the German CD was produced with the approval (or delegated approval) of the original artist/rights-holders, then it should be treated as legitimate and proper.

    Of course, if you've got a situation where some country is permitting the sale of tracks for which the original artists have *not* delegated their rights to whomever made the [cd, dvd, file], then that shouldn't be permitted. Certainly, this isn't what's happening in Japan, but it is sort of what happened with AllOfMP3 (or so I understand -- I haven't followed that too closely).

    I believe this is also why it's taken so long for new iTunes stores to open in new countries. It's not just a matter of arranging the financial-side of things for handling payments, currency conversions, etc., or even of getting servers and such set up for faster local access, but I bet a whole lot of it is securing the appropriate approvals from whomever "owns" the publishing rights for each track in that country.
    • This was (more or less) true until 1996. In that year the US became signatory to the World Intellectual Property Organization International Copyright Treaty. Under those new rules, all such restrictions are eliminated as was legal protection for region-based access control (like region-coding).

      It's not that companies don't artificially segment the market for marketing reasons -- they do. There's still region codes on DVDs today despite the treaty basically saying that the countries agree to not enforce any
      • No.

        The treaty you're thinking of didn't do anything to importation rights, and has required things like anticircumvention rights. (The way that the IP interests get more protection in the US without much debate here is to get our diplomats to support it, put it in treaties, to get the treaties ratified, and then Congress is told to make the necessary laws so that we can live up to our treaty obligations; it's kind of a back door)

        Frankly, no copyright treaty has ever done anything good for the public, and we
    • Yes you aree right it is about copyright laws. But one of the reason such laws are the way they are is that the music industry wants to reserve the right to charge different prices in differen countries for the same product. These degrees of freedom (for the various **IAA allow a greater gain than would otherwise be possible), It's called "Market Segmentation".

      Now in the iTunes case that is probably not true, however the general idea is still the same.
  • by l-ascorbic (200822) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:41AM (#17751474)
    It's not a big scary conspiracy. They need to be granted rights for each territory by the labels. They evidently don't have US licences for all the japanese stuff. But if you prefer you can pretend that the government is stopping Apple corrupt the nation's youth with cheesy J-pop.
  • The reason why Apple doesn't have the worlds music on iTunes is probably because it takes a lot of work to get Record Companies to sign on and whatnot and the time taken to accomplish that might be better utilized on some other things for now at least.

    However, I think it would be very beneficial for iTunes to start offering things from Bollywood (movies and music, priced to compete with local stores). I think India is one of the few places where the movie industry isn't going (relatively) downhill.
  • YMCK! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Apocalypse111 (597674)
    While they may not be "insanely great", one of the Japanese bands I've found a while ago that I enjoy listening to is YMCK [wikipedia.org]. Its a chiptune band, so it sounds like old Nintendo music combined with vocals. I can't understand the lyrics, or not much of them anyways, but its fun to listen to. Samples are available on their website (linked to in the above wiki article).
  • Probably,

    I mean, are US youngsters (who undoubtably make up the bulk of the iTunes music store purchases) really ready for Japanese tunes such as "Yatta"?

    I mean, won't somebody think of the children!
  • by fermion (181285) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:52AM (#17751636) Homepage Journal
    If Borders books refuses to sell a CD, is this limiting choice? Does borders book exist as the sole music purveyor in any market? Can't a consumer just go next door and get the music from someone else? Same thing for tower records. The few times I have been to a tower, and there are none in my town, it was a fun place to shop but the indies that existed then had a better selection of non-mainstream records. At the end of they day, it is not like WalMart censoring music, which does have an effect becuase Wal Mart does strive to be the only retailer across a number of markets and demographics.

    A more accurate presentation might be that DRM and restrictive licensing is limiting the choice of music, which does have an element of truth, and Apple does bear some responsibility. But even this is far from unclear. If we are talking about music downloads, the only thing effecting music choice is the artist, not Apple. Apple certainly effects exposure, but not choice, except in the sense that one cannot choose what one does not know.

    But certainly anyone can go onto a P2P network an download music, and it will play on the iPod and work in iTunes. Any artist can go to Youtube and upload a video. If a song is insanely great, it will generate insanely great buzz, and people will hear it.

    I also wonder about the definition of insanely great music, and people expecting have such music handed to them on a gold platter. We are so used to having sanitized music spoon fed to us. The ability to download music is just going to exacerbate this problem, and lead to the increasingly sanitized of music. A better article would be how increased music delivery in destroying insanely great local music, and replacing it with moderately interesting sanitized corporate music.

    • by Americano (920576)

      At the end of they day, it is not like WalMart censoring music, which does have an effect becuase Wal Mart does strive to be the only retailer across a number of markets and demographics.

      Actually, at the end of the day, Wal Mart "censoring" music doesn't make much of a difference either, since there is no legal restriction that prevents you from buying the uncensored versions elsewhere, either. You just don't buy them at Wal Mart -- you buy it online via Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or any of the other

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:53AM (#17751652)
    I know of another legal way to buy Japanese music. You can buy Japanese CDs in an English web page at
    http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/ [cdjapan.co.jp]
    I have no financial interest in this company. I am merely an occasional customer. Of course, if you are under, say, 25 years old, the idea of actually buying a CD will be anathema to you as you'll have to wait for it to arrive by mail and you'd rather slit your emo wrists than do anything that doesn't lead to instant gratification. And if you want to just buy individual tracks, this isn't the answer you were looking for either. However, if you are over 30 years old and not afflicted with ADD, this might be an option for you should want to purchase that CD that is only available in Japan. Sometimes Japanese CDs come with bonus tracks not released in other markets (usually this means the US), so hardcore fans of various Western singers/groups might be interested in Japanese CDs for that reason too.
    • by Qzukk (229616)
      Sometimes Japanese CDs come with bonus tracks not released in other markets (usually this means the US), so hardcore fans of various Western singers/groups might be interested in Japanese CDs for that reason too.

      People think that the only thing coming out of japan is manufactured pop (and a lot of it is, it's worse than America in some genres over there with entire groups dedicated to nothing but churning out idol after idol) but Japan seems to be where a lot of Western 80's musicians go to die or something
    • That's not necessarily legal. It could easily run afoul of 17 USC 602(b), or not, depending on precisely what occurs in Japan. So it's a bit of a crapshoot.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Of course, if you are under, say, 25 years old, the idea of actually buying a CD will be anathema to you as you'll have to wait for it to arrive by mail and you'd rather slit your emo wrists than do anything that doesn't lead to instant gratification.

      And if you're over, say, 30 years old, the idea of downloading music seems like scary voodoo as music is supposed to be a plastic disc instead of data, and you'd rather yell at kids to get off your lawn than do anything to save natural resources.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 25, 2007 @09:58AM (#17751736)
    Christ, how did this one make it through? I'd expect this kind of thing on digg, but Slashdot is usually a shade better about posting uninformed hyperbole. It's not Apple that won't let you hear these so called "insanely great songs" - it's the record companies in Japan. Apple is only authorized to sell those songs to residents of Japan. It's not big, bad Apple keeping the little guy down, or some vast racketeering conspiracy by the RIAA or anything like that. It's just standard protocol - different distribution agreements for different countries. If the record companies of Japan felt like there was money to be had in selling these songs across the pond, they'd negotiate that with Apple and you'd see these songs in the US-version of the iTMS. To act all indignant because you browsed the Japanese iTMS and were not allowed to use an American credit card/gift card is just absurd. Different countries have different factors (e.g., blank media tax) to consider in distribution that make articles like this seem so uninformed and naive that it's embarrassing.
  • Readers have mentioned licensing and other reasons why American's can't dive into the amazing bounty of Japanese bands on the store. But I think it's part of an evil plan to inflict pain and suffering on Americans. What else could rationally explain their attempt to keep thousands of insanely great Japanese pop tracks out of the hands of Americans?

  • by biglig2 (89374) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:03AM (#17751792) Homepage Journal
    A copy of Britney's Greatest Hits (as a random example) on the US itunes store is $8.91.
    On the UK iTunes store it is $15.75 (i.e. £7.99)
    On the Canadian store, $8.47
    New Zealand, $12.61
    etc. etc. etc.

    On the Japanese store, by the way, they don't sell it at all. Guess they saw the video for "Hit me Baby" and figured "Like the schoolgirl outfit, but needs more tentacles. Or cowbell."
  • One of the best bands out there. Many of you will know them from FLCL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLCL [wikipedia.org]
  • Beyond Music (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rueger (210566) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @10:21AM (#17752086) Homepage
    The increasingly insular approach of North American media is something that goes beyond Japanese pop songs.

    In the book business it has become near impossible to convince publishers to translate non-English authors, making access to some of the planet's finest writers nearly impossible.

    Geist magazine [geist.com] out of Vancouver has had a couple of good articles looking at this phenomenon, one by Stephen Henighan [geist.com] in Issue 61, and by acclaimed writer Alberto Manguel in Issue 62.

    Henigan's article opens:

    Over dinner, I asked the Quebecoise writer Sylvie Desrosiers, the author of successful novels for both adults and younger readers, whether her books had been translated into English. "Non, pas en anglais," she said. "I've been translated into Spanish, Greek, Arabic . . ." She listed two or three other languages, then shook her head. "But not into English."

    A few weeks after Desrosiers's visit, I was one of the hosts for the Ontario tour of the Salvadoran writer Horacio Castellanos Moya. The Salvadoran edition of Moya's novel El Asco (1997)--the title is roughly translatable as Revulsion --ran through six printings in a year and earned Moya enough death threats that he moved to Germany. Now in his late forties, Moya is the best-known Salvadoran writer of his generation. His novels come out in Spanish-language editions in San Salvador, Mexico City and Barcelona; in France and Quebec he is considered a significant literary figure (he was a featured guest of the 2005 Salon du Livre in Montreal); his novels are also available in German and Italian. His work has not been translated into English.


    Manguel's article this month puts the blame squarely on the publishing houses who are increasingly market driven to publish lowest common denominator works, rather than building a catalog that stands on literary merit.

    North America lives in a cultural bubble defined by a narrow range of English language music, writing, and film. It would be a great exercise to see how iTunes handles music from Latino and Mexican artists, or in Canada from Quebec musicians.

    I'll wager that both of those groups are also underrepresented despite the considerable popularity of their work.
  • But this brings up a good point -- why shouldn't BitTorrent be the great mythical omniscient music repository where all the world's music is available instantly?

    Fixed that for ya...



    More seriously, we can't really blame Apple for this one. They can only sell what the copyright holders let them sell. Cross-border music distribution has always counted as something of a tricky issue (thus the nearly black-market prices of anything you buy stamped "import").

    One additional, more practical problem - PR (
  • This article is stupid. It's certainly not Apple's fault you can't purchase the music in the US or on the US version of itunes. The label, while at fault, is usually doing this for a good reason. They generally negotiate per country with different artists for a reason. Before a label decides to "launch" an artist in a new country (especially one where there is a language barrier), significant PR and advertising needs to be done to ensure a successful launch and good rankings for that artist. Imagine if Celi
  • Don't buy that crap, check out http://music.podshow.com/ [podshow.com] or http://cdbaby.com/ [cdbaby.com] or other places where you get non DRMed music you can buy from all around the world.
  • put out a remix album awhile back

    i found some info on it [discogs.com]

    those tracks blew me away, and i would have NEVER have found that music had i played "legit" and not pirated

    i didn't even know what the armin van buuren/ ayumi hamasaki album was until i looked for it just now, even though i've playing songs from it for years and i deeply dig those remixes. i'm utterly beyond the notion of albums. i haven't bought a cd since 1999, and i never will again

    i don't think i'll ever go to itunes either, because i'm too into t
  • Namely that's why Amazon Japan get my money for Japanese music, and not Apple.

    Apple need to realise that they're losing out on sales because of a contrived market demarcation, one that makes no sense for an online world. Apple is a business, you can only hurt them one way, money. Either by denying them sales, or making them realise they're losing sales because of a stupid, non-sensical, policy.

    The only reason things like this still exist is because labels don't want to lose the ability to charge one g

  • While I see that some people would like a "World" iTunes with every flavor under the Sun given equal footing, I would despise it.

    I think of myself as open minded and live in a culturally diverse neighborhood. Still, I like my music to be "Western" and if I were faced with a "most popular downloads" list monopolized by the shear numbers of Chinese lets say, I would be frustrated quickly.

    From FTA, it looks like Apple allows us to switch our "neighborhood" if you will so it isn't like they are censoring the co
  • by gig (78408)
    Everybody seems to think that iTunes is so huge that it's bigger than record companies and countries, but that's not the case (yet).
  • (Pretty much off-topic, but my question involves buying Japanese music, so I'm asking... ignore it if you only care about discussion specific to Apple)

    While J-Pop and J-Rock are nice and all, I'm interested in checking out more traditional Japanese sound, with old-school instruments. What's the Japanese counterpart to, say, classical violin concertos? Enka sounds promising, but beyond a general genre, I have no idea what to look for. Can anyone recommend some artists or albums for someone who wants to l

  • Why is it, that people sound so surprised whenever Apple does something they don't like ? Apple is not some kind of charity or a philanthropic society, it's a business like any other, and they will do whatever it takes to make a profit.

    Whether that means adding DRM to music, locking out rival operating systems, or only selling certain music to certain people because the labels don't want them to, if it increases their profit, they will do it.
  • The songs you can't have show up just like other songs. They're just grayed out. Taunting you. saying "look what I have that you can't have". They'll even have reviews of the stuff you can't have when you click on them.
  • I stumbled into iTMS' Japanese store about a year ago and of course found I couldn't buy Japanese tracks that way. So, I just started writing Apple asking them to add Japanese pop and rock to the US store. Apparently enough people did this to convince someone to make the music available as now you can find music from some to the most popular performers in Japan such as, Ayumi Hamasaki, BoA, Utada, and Amuro Namie. There's a lot of older back catalog stuff, but it appears that the time gap is shrinking with
  • I am going to try this immediately.

    For over 2 years I had exactly 4 songs in my iTunes shopping cart... songs that I really liked, but I couldn't bring myself to hand over my credit card for the DRM inhibited music. I usually buy CDs.

    So, for Christmas I received a couple of iTunes gift cards. I figured, what the heck... I'll buy the songs now and attempt to find something to strip the DRM.

    And then the catch hit me. The songs, while still in my shopping cart and still had playable samples were "no longer for sale in the iTunes US store". The songs and the albumn that they made up were no longer listed in the store by any means of searching.

    Here's the real kicker that pissed me off. These songs were only ever sold through the iTunes store. No physical store sales, no other online music stores, and I was never able to find them on any p2p services.

    Hopefully I'll now be able to purchase them. This is another perfect example of why DRM is a bad bad thing. If the company holding the keys to the DRM infected information decides to revoke them, the content can be completely lost to society.
  • It's high time Americans have some content unavailable due to ridiculous licensing, since the rest of the world has had to put up with it for years.

    Example - here, in Canada, I can't buy episodes of The Daily Show on iTunes. This is despite the fact that it's aired at the exact same time every day here as it is in the US, so there is therefore no possible way Comedy Central is losing more potential viewers than in the US. The same is true of 95% of the content on iTunes video, it's simply not offered here,
  • Two Quick Points (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paulrothrock (685079) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:09PM (#17754024) Homepage Journal

    First, this isn't "Apple" not letting you hear these things. It's the record companies and their licensing agreements. If you go into a record store in the US, do you see all these great Japanese artists? Hell no. Why? Isn't it just as easy to ship them over as it is to ship over US artists? It's not Apple limiting these things, it's the damned recording companies.

    It's the same reason that TV shows on iTunes US aren't available on iTunes UK and vice versa. There are ancient licensing agreements (well, ancient in terms of the internet) between the media companies that Apple has to respect if you want any content on iTunes at all. Apple could have gone the eMusic route and filled the iTunes store with independent artists, but who would start doing that?

    Finally, Apple's not preventing you from hearing these songs on your computer or your iPod. You're free to buy them on CDs and rip them into your computer. And you can even rip them in MP3 format with no DRM! Amazing!

    It's natural for people to beat up on Apple because that's who's dealing with them when they don't get what they want. But that's just human nature. I used to work as a bus boy in a restuarant. I've seen people scream at waiters for the cooks screwing up their order. I've seen people yell at cashiers for something they bought there not working correctly. Most people are stupid. It's up to those of us who aren't to

  • by kilodelta (843627) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:47PM (#17754712) Homepage
    Quite often I'll hear a song on last.fm that I like and go on iTunes to buy it. Come to find out it's an iTunes UK offering and my account won't let me download it. This is the major problem with the music industry. Music is now international, not regional. The industry hasn't adapted yet.

That does not compute.

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