Ask Billboard

Keith Caulfield answers readers' questions about international releases, Oasis and Blur.

UNFAIR PRACTICE?

Hi Keith,

I've always wondered about the practice of including bonus tracks on international releases. The issue most recently comes to mind because the Japanese version of Mariah Carey's "The Emancipation of Mimi" contains two extra songs. A scenario I can understand is when an artist re-records a popular song in another language and uses that version to promote the CD in other countries.

But in this case, the songs are in English and would have no greater appeal to the Japanese. Isn't it unfair that hardcore American fans have to pay 20-30 dollars more for imports at stores such as Virgin Megastore just for two extra songs? And assuming people do spend the extra money, doesn't that take away from the U.S. sales that would otherwise count towards the Billboard charts? Am I missing something? Is there really some logic to this?

Thanks,

Jay Urban

Hello Jay,

The goal isn't to force Americans to buy the Japanese import. The goal is to keep the domestic Japanese customers from buying the American import.

Because U.S. albums are also exported to other countries, and because our dollar is weak compared to the Japanese yen, it ultimately doesn't cost very much to import an American album into Japan. Therefore, if you are a customer in Japan, and you go to your local Virgin Megastore and you see two different Mariah albums -- one being the domestic Japanese version that costs a lot, and another being the cheap U.S. import -- you'd tend to buy the cheaper American version.

Japanese record labels started adding bonus tracks to their domestic versions in order to curb this trend, and to encourage the purchase of Japanese-produced albums. Now, if you are a customer in Japan presented with the slightly more-expensive Japanese edition of an album with bonus tracks, versus the cheaper American version, you might opt to buy the Japanese version.



BELIEVE THIS TRUTH

Hi,

I noticed a new single out by Oasis called "Lyla." Is it taken from an upcoming new album?

Danny DiGiacomo

Hello Danny,

"Lyla" is a cut from Oasis' new album, "Don't Believe the Truth," due to be released May 31 in the United States by Epic. The album is the band's first studio set since 2002's "Heathen Chemistry."

The band will begin a North American tour on June 17 at the Molson Amphitheater in Toronto.

"Lyla" will debut this week on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart at No. 31. It's the group's first single to reach the tally since 2000.

"Heathen Chemistry" has sold 141,000 copies in the United States since its release, according to Nielsen SoundScan.



BLURRED

Hi Keith,

I'm a big fan of the British band Blur. I was wondering if you could tell me how much the band's albums have sold in the United States? It would be greatly appreciated.

I know the group has been a lot more successful in their native United Kingdom than in America, which is a shame, but they've had some sizable hits ("Song 2" and "Coffee & TV" come to mind) in the States over the years.

Thanks,

Jade

Hi Jade,

It's true that Blur has had little U.S. success, as compared to the band's fairly massive following in its homeland.

In America, the group has had a surprising number of singles reach Billboard's charts. They are "Girls & Boys," "Chemical World," "There's No Other Way," "Bang," "Song 2," "M.O.R.," "Tender" and "Crazy Beat."

The band has sold 1.6 million albums in the United States overall, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Its biggest seller is its self-titled 1997 album, which has shifted 679,000 copies.