Ask Billboard

Keith answers readers' questions on Hilary Duff, Silverchair, Japanese releases and more!

'DIGNITY' IN JAPAN

Hey Keith,

Last week, I ordered a copy of Hilary Duff's new album "Dignity" from Japan.

I saw that the release date for the CD was March 28, 2007 - meaning a week earlier than in the U.S. When I got the CD, I noticed that the cover artwork was different and also the CD had one extra track (as compared to) the U.S. version.

The Japanese edition contained a 50 page booklet full of pictures of Duff, and I noticed that the CD/DVD package sold in the U.S. does not have this booklet.

I wonder why record companies do this stuff? Why release a CD a week earlier, containing limited edition stuff and have different cover art and more songs? (Which is usually what happens in the Japanese market). Is this a strategy that record companies have? What does this mean?

Thanks,
Andres Escobar


Hi Andres,

It has long been standard practice for the Japanese edition of U.S. releases to be released in special packaging or carry extra content. Because of the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Japanese Yen, it has always been much cheaper for a Japanese consumer to purchase the American import of an album, rather than the domestic Japanese release.

So, in order to combat this, Japanese editions of albums will come with perks for the consumer extra tracks, different artwork, enhanced packaging and so forth.

Nowadays, labels are quite desperate to get an album sale. In the U.S., there can be a staggering number of different versions of an album -- one for every major seller. A significant release may come packaged with different and exclusive bonus tracks for Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, the Apple iTunes Music Store and Circuit City-- among others.



DOES ITUNES 'COMPLETE ME?'

Hi Keith,

With Apple's announcement of the "Complete My Album" feature, how does Billboard record sales when users take advantage of this service? Does it take away digital single sales credit for the songs as it is being converted into an album sale or is there a different methodology to it?

Thank you,

Anthony Hesseltine
Seattle, Washington


Hi Anthony,

You hit the nail on the head. When you complete your album purchase at the Apple iTunes Music Store an album sale is registered in exchange for a return of a digital track (or tracks).

Let's say you bought Fergie's "Glamorous" for 99 cents a few weeks ago. And now, you can complete your album purchase -- that is, getting the rest of "The Dutchess" album -- without paying full price (since you already paid 99 cents for the "Glamorous" song). SoundScan will treat this new transaction as a return of "Glamorous" in exchange for a sale of "The Dutchess" album.



AMERICAN, 'STRAIGHT,' 'MODERN'

Hi Keith,

Silverchair's "Young Modern" was released in Australia on March 30, and its single "Straight Lines" was released weeks before that. I haven't even heard of the single being released to (U.S.) radio yet, so it almost seems as if they are not thinking about the American market yet. Do you know if there are any plans on a U.S. release of this album in the near future?

John Perna


Hi John,

Oh, I'm sure Silverchair is thinking about the American market. In a recent Billboard story by our Australian Correspondent Christine Eliezer, the band's manager John Watson said that the album would be released internationally in July. The band will be on the road in the U.S. this summer, playing festivals such as Lollapalooza in Chicago on Aug. 3-5.

The "Young Modern" album recently debuted at No. 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart in Australia, making Silverchair the first Australian band to have its first five albums debut at No. 1.