Sometimes I’ll see an import release of one my favorite bands in my local record store with two or more extra songs on it. Why do the foreign releases get so many extras?
“Eighty percent of those import releases come from Japan,” John Voigtmann, senior director of international marketing at RCA Records, told me. “By law, Japan’s music industry is artifically divided into two categories, and import CDs are always sold at cheaper prices than local editions. So, in order for Japanese companies to stay competitive, we provide them with extra tracks. Anything other than that is usually a special marketing campaign: we might add some ‘live in Norway’ tracks to make it cool for Norwegians.” Of course, many foreign releases are exactly the same as the American versions–but your local store doesn’t bother to import those.
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)