How poorly it works, except as a mechanism for “control via obscurity” — which this article works to subvert. For example, did you know there are places where songs are available on iTunes at variable prices (i.e., different prices for different songs)? I didn’t. The insanely great songs Apple won’t let you hear
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. You can listen to 30-second song teasers on the Japanese site, but if you try purchasing “Killer Tune”â€”or any other tuneâ€”from iTunes Japan with your U.S. credit card, you’ll get turned away: Your gaijin money’s no good there.
Go to iTMS Japan’s Terms of Sale, and the very first three words, which berate you in all caps, are:
JAPAN SALES ONLY
So, what’s going on here?
Music labels have a good reason to lift up the drawbridge: iTunes spans 22 countries, often with somewhat uneven pricing between them, and the specter of cross-border music discounting has already been raised by services such as Russia’s much-sued allofmp3.com. But in Japan’s case, the blockade becomes downright tragic. If your knowledge of Japanese music barely extends beyond the Boredoms, you’re in for a shock at iTMS Japan: There are thousands of Japanese bands that play circles around oursâ€”and they’re doing it in English.