Follow TV Tropes


No Export For You / Music

Go To

  • It can be difficult finding officially localized releases of audio from Japan, such as J-pop, radio dramas, anime and Tokusatsu soundtracks and video game soundtracks, in a mainstream music store outside of Japan that does not already specialize in imports.
    • This is slowly becoming an averted trope as many Japanese artists and studios have realized that they have a sizable western audience and digital storefronts such as iTunes have made selling music worldwide easier than ever.
  • Up until the mid to late '90s, it was common for obscure acts to only have their material available locally, or in select countries. Germany's Blind Guardian didn't have their catalog released outside of Europe and Japan until they signed with international label Century Media in 1998, a full decade and five albums after their debut.
  • Japanese bonus tracks for non-Japanese artists are often non-album tracks taken from singles, but sometimes there are exceptions and a track never gets released outside of Japan at the time (sometimes they get belated releases on later compilations). Examples:
    • Shaggy's "Demand The Ride", from the Japanese version of Boombastic. Also on the 12" version of Why You Treat Me So Bad but not on any CD release of it.
    • Jamiroquai's "Getinfunky" from the Japanese version of Synkronized (also on the Australian tour edition).
    • Megadeth's "One Thing" from the Japanese version of Cryptic Writings. Later released, remastered, on Warchest.
    • Megadeth's "Coming Home" from the Japanese version of The World Needs A Hero. Later released, remastered, on Warchest, albeit it does not fade in like the original.
    • Megadeth's "Out On The Tiles" from the Japanese version of United Abominations.
    • The Clash's "The Cost Of Living Advert" is only on CD on The Cost Of Living EP that is in the Japanese Singles Box set, which is much more expensive than the standard version. Naturally, this was on the original UK vinyl EP, screwing over fans who wanted a perfect replica.
    • Advertisement:
    • Jamiroquai's "That's Not The Funk" from the Japanese version of Rock Dust Light Star. Also released as a download in Germany, but not in the UK.
    • Daft Punk's "Horizon" from the Japanese version of Random Access Memories.
    • Famed Death Metal label Relapse Records has become known for this, most notably with "SSS Haa Set Yoth" by Nile (from 2005's Annihilation Of The Wicked) and the re-recorded version of "Anomalistic Offerings" by Suffocation, from their 2006 Self-Titled Album (the original version, from 1993's Breeding The Spawn, is available in the US, but the album as a whole has severe audio fidelity problems due to Screwed by the Network).
  • In February 2017, Avex Pictures announced that certain music CDs, which includes soundtracks to their titles such as One Piece, would be restricted to their native Japan on stores such as CDJapan. They informed retailers that they must clearly classify those products that can and cannot be sold overseas. Still, it's a total wallbanger given how Avex sources their music from Eurodance groups who would have never become popular outside of their home countries if it wasn't for Revival by Commercialization in any of Avex's titles in the first place. However, Avex Pictures is considering to acquire distribution rights for sales of their titles overseas.
    • Safe to mention this isn't the case with several artists and groups under the Avex Trax label, since the majority of them can be found in websites like Spotify. Unless you happen to live in Asia where said artist's distributor is Avex Trax, as Avex refuses to allow streaming of these artistes' music in the region outside of Japan. Your only (legal) option in the area is to pay for the music (and at an inflated price at that) to buy them off iTunes. However, as of 2020, Avex has started to relax their policy, with music from their artists finally appearing on Spotify, Apple Music and Youtube Music for streaming, although the high purchase price on iTunes remains and physical CDs remained embargoed to not leave Japan.
  • Advertisement:
  • Gilby Clarke's "West of the Sunset" was only released on the Japanese edition of Pawnshop Guitars.
  • A well known example from the days of CD singles is the non-album B Side which quite frequently would only appear on singles released in the UK and Europe (especially Germany). There are still latter day examples of this like R.E.M.'s Nola, which was only released on the Oh My Heart single, only released in Germany, and not available for download.
  • A few years ago, there was a concert DVD released for Rock For Toronto — which was a concert that was headlined by The Rolling Stones, after Toronto underwent a major SARS epidemic. There was one DVD that was released to the whole world, but the other DVD, that had strictly Canadian music on it, was released in Canada.
  • Some albums are released only in a specific region of the world on iTunes and will only allow credit cards from said region.
    • For physical CDs, most music stores will ship worldwide (it's easier to list those who don't: and, or you can even turn to eBay. However, for digital albums, they're mostly restricted to the country the store is hosted in, or the continent the store is hosted in if the store is generous. So, if the album you're after is available in CD format, you have a fighting chance to own it legally. Otherwise, your only option is to hope someone passes on a digital copy into the vast darkness of the interweb. However, if the title you're after is a soundtrack published by Avex Pictures in Japan, well, see above.
      • Or, you ask someone in that country to buy it for you. This is perfectly legal.
    • Spotify is a similar case, it is an awesome on demand streaming service but only available to a small selection of European countries (getting more though, but the reason why it launches in one country and not in the other are a mystery to the consumer).
      • Spotify is still bad in regards to this. A lot of songs available in the US, UK and Japan are not available in many, many other countries. Notable NEFYs artists include Bob Seger, Fenwyck and even C. W. McCall, all available on Spotify USA but not in many other countries.
  • The Stone Roses cancelled their planned tour of the USA in 1990 by saying "America doesn't deserve us yet." Now that's blatant No Export For You.
  • Visual Kei bands in general. There is a reason that Visual Kei fandom outside of Japan started as a direct result of piracy, especially for non-major bands and even for major bands: while, now, you can find X Japan and Luna Sea and Miyavi on Itunes or the like, even those insanely popular, major bands and artists were once almost impossible to acquire outside of Japan without resorting to piracy (or to CD Japan's insane prices, or to other resellers). Now, more bands and artists are available, but old, now-disbanded bands are still hard to find in full anywhere. For example, just try to get the entire discography of The Zolge or Tokyo Yankees or Gilles De Rais without pirating anything or buying from a reseller.
    • This is why, though piracy is becomg more and more frowned upon (pirating from artists who sell directly is considered an insult to them and risking their future), "preservation piracy" is actually very much encouraged and welcomed as a form of Keep Circulating the Tapes: if you have something connected to an early Visual Kei band or event or interview, you are keeping the history alive and remembered by posting and sharing it. Fans doing this (even for major bands where ephemera like posters or TV interviews often fades into legend and nonexistence) is why a lot of Visual Kei history exists.
  • Nujabes albums, in their entirety, including the Hydeout Productions collections, are not available in the United States. Used copies fetch high prices on eBay and Amazon.
  • The Ark almost got all their albums distributed in the US, but opening a 2006 tour in DC, Ola made an ill-advised joke about how you "never know where planes are going in this country," and that this one was heading "in the right direction...toward the White House." Cue a plane back to Sweden, a distributor who wouldn't return their calls, and a single album (their most recent at the time) with a US version, which is hard to find due to them being known as "the guys who made that joke at the embassy."
  • Hello! Project overseas (minus an occasional concert in Mexico or France)? Good luck compared to Girls' Generation, or hell, most K-Pop groups, which had seen American exposure via their labels and English versions of their songs. In contrast, for most of their history, none of Hello Project's bands (not counting Coconuts Musume) have ever had any English song, or even an English version of any of their previous songs released until 2015, let alone have them appear in western shores.
    • Thankfully, this is gradually being averted for digital releases at least, with management even bringing in English translations for all the songs with music videos.
  • Boy Band *NSYNC had several singles that were only released in Europe, e.g. "U Drive Me Crazy", "Together Again", and "I'll Never Stop".
  • Live outside the US or UK and want to buy MP3 or Unbox videos off Amazon? No chance. This comes as a stinger for people who live outside either countries who want an album that's for stupid reasons only released digitally and will probably never see a release in their potential buyer's country due to "lack of demands". It is IP locked, meaning that even if you live in the said country, you can't buy the MP3s or videos if you step out of the country for a vacation.
    • It's perfectly legal for a friend in that country to buy them for you and send over, in the same way as say, importing a Japanese CD.
    • On the other hand, while it's perfectly legal for music because music on both iTunes and Amazon Unbox are no longer DRM'ed to heck and back, the same can't be said for TV shows (the main draw of Unbox videos, and the other draw of iTunes). You can't watch it when your friend sends you the file because it's DRMed and locked to his/her PC, even if you paid him/her to buy it for you. And chances are cracking the DRM is a felony at where your friend lives.
  • Duran Duran's ninth studio album, Medazzaland, was never released in the UK. In fact it was only released in a handful of markets, notably the United States, Japan and Argentina. Indeed, The album's minor American hit single "Electric Barbarella" hasn't even made an appearance on any sort of greatest hits record that had a European release.
  • There are many artists that exclusively cater to certain overseas countries such as Japan, and thus their stuff is unheard of in their home country.
    • A good example of this is Bush, who were only moderately popular in the UK, but huge in the US, and catered primarily to the US market as a result. Many people from England thought they were American.
  • Inversion: Michael Jackson never toured the continental U.S. (or even nearby Canada) as a solo act after 1989 save for two Hawaiian dates on the HIStory Tour. Why he chose to snub his home country is unknown. Legit theories include that he didn't want to hold concerts of his own anymore but would honor invitations put forth by organizers, or that he was just simply jaded with how the US seemed to be bullying him with barrages of groundless pedophilia lawsuits, or both. It could even be because organizers in the US wouldn't book him due to bad publicity garnered from said lawsuits.
  • Chicane's early single "Strong in Love" unfortunately never got a stateside release in any form.
  • Until the advent of digital distribution, most Italo-disco songs suffered from this, due to the backlash against disco in the US.
  • Universal Records in Russia seemingly authorized a CD release of the leaked Eminem EP "Straight from the Lab", complete with a number of bonus tracks (such as the otherwise unavailable "Explosion" and some obviously fan-made remixes), as its seven tracks would have barely constituted an 'album.' Despite the fact that full scans of this album can be found online, and the entire disc (including bonus tracks) is offered on Russian MP3 sites, a physical copy of this CD seems impossible to find - a likely reason being that Universal clearly sourced the disc from the original leaked MP3's, which are low quality and contain countless glitches.
    • It should be noted that whilst it's an official division of Universal Records, copyright laws in Russia were virtually non-existent until very recently, and it is only in recent years that Western music has started to be officially released there, so there was an established bootleg trade.
  • Foo Fighters inverted the trope when they released the song Generator as a full single only in Australia (the only other place was England where it only went on sale for a week) and thus became relatively more popular there than it is in the rest of the world. The band itself plays into the trope because Generator is played almost every time they play a live show in Australia.
    • Same with Stacked Actors, except no where but Australia got it as a single. Again, quite popular and often played in Australian concerts.
  • The Corrs inverted the trope, again for Australia, when they released their first live album in Australia along with their first album Forgiven Not Forgotten. It eventually made it's way to Japan, and then an edited smaller release in Europe.
  • Lostprophets did not release their 4th album, The Betrayed, in North America. Mostly likely, after the criminal charges given to Ian Watkins, it will probably stay that way.
  • Opium, KMFDM's nearly-forgotten first album, was initially only released in Germany as an extremely limited cassette (200 copies). It took nearly two decades for it to get a wide release.
  • Paul McCartney's 1988 cover album Снова в СССР (English: Back in the USSR) is an intentional example. McCartney intended the album to only have a release in the Soviet Union so Russian fans could have a new official album all to themselves, as they had often had to make do with bootlegs of Western albums. For a few years, it was - in a bit of a role reversal - rather difficult to get a copy of the record outside of the Soviet Union, until the record was given an international release in late 1991.
  • Richard Wagner's Parsifal was not allowed to be produced outside Bayreuth or the United States (the latter only saw performances of it due to a court ruling from 1903 that allowed the New York Metropolitan Opera to perform it unabridged, though Wagner's family subsequently blacklisted those involved from performing in Bayreuth) as long as it remained in copyright. This trope was averted in 1914; even though the opera was still in copyright, the family started authorizing performances outside of Bayreuth, and over 50 European opera houses presented the opera in the months before World War I broke out.
  • Looking for the maxi/remix single to The Wanted's "Heart Vacancy"? Sorry, not available in the American Itunes or Amazon MP3 stores, and good luck finding an import deal on the CD maxi. Unless you take the option of dubious legality.
    • Their albums The Wanted and Battleground are also unavailable outside the UK. And to rub more salt in the wound, it features songs not available in the US nor on The Wanted: The EP.
  • Gentle Giant's In A Glass House didn't become domestically available in the U.S. until 2004 - more than 30 years after its release - due to the band's American label thinking that it wasn't commercially viable.
  • Subverted for Linkin Park's single "Burning in the Skies"- It never got a US release.
  • American Hard Rock musician Andrew W.K.'s third studio album Close Calls With Brick Walls was only released in Japan. While this can be chalked up to The Wolf being a commercial and critical disappointment, it still sold well enough and had enough of a fanbase to justify him having a continued market in the West. It did eventually become available outside of Japan - first it had a limited vinyl only release in America, then it finally saw worldwide release on CD, paired as a double disc set with a rarities and outtakes collection called Mother of Mankind.
  • Europop diva Kate Ryan, best known for the early-mid 2000's international hits "Desenchantee", "Scream For More", etc. has (so far) only released Electroshock in her homeland of Belgium, and that means no downloads for you American iTunes and Amazon MP3 customers.
  • Taio Cruz's album TY.0 wasn't released in the United States nor the United Kingdom, which is strange considering the American success of "Dynamite" and (to a lesser extent) "Break Your Heart"
  • Weirdly, very little from the Latin Pop genre gets released in the UK. You wouldn't guess it at first glance, because the few artists who do get released (e.g. Shakira, Sean Paul, Pitbull) are ENORMOUSLY popular, but there's very little beyond them. You'll struggle to find a CD by globally-known artists like Thalia, Juanes or Paulina Rubio in the UK. Even Gloria Estefan, who used to be a huge star there, doesn't get her albums released in the UK anymore.
  • Junior Senior's second album Hey Hey My My Yo Yo was originally just released in Denmark and Japan. It was later released in the US with a bonus disc of an otherwise digital only EP. Despite the band having good success in the UK it was never released there, and this may be a factor in why they broke up.
  • The debut Public Image Ltd. album, First Issue, was released in 1978, but the band's American label, Warner (Bros.) Records, rejected it because they didn't consider it commercial enough. First Issue finally got an American release in 2013. This is a large part of why people seem to think Metal Box was their first album.
  • The Japanese music industry is built around this principle; to maintain a draconian grip on the industry they have cracked down on music videos posted to YouTube as well as region-locked any videos as well as implemented merchandise systems bent on physical copy loyalty. Even some CDs are region-lockednote , or even embargoed from export, a fate normally reserved for weapons and dangerous chemicals!
    • Johnny’s Entertainment, aka Johnny and Associates, put this trope Up to Eleven. Their longtime positionnote  was 100% direct and clear: no Johnny’s Entertainment music for foreigners. Companies like Sentai Filmworks and Funimation had very difficult problems with this company, resulting in butchered releases of some series that contains music from this company due to their Japanese-only policy. Indeed, those fans of Yu-Gi-Oh! who are frustrated about the Duel Monsters series not being released in the original Japanese in the United States have Johnny's to thank for their predicament. They are also the main reason Ultraman Tiga and the two episode series finale of Ultraman Dyna isn't available for streaming in many parts of in the world including Japan itselfnote , are also behind the reason Ultraman Tiga is Late Export for You to countries whose dubbing house doesn't want to write their own theme songnote , and are also the reason those said countries received a different cover version of the opening theme (done by Tatsuya Maeda) instead the V6 cover released in Japan- because of their no export policy imposed on their bands' music. By around 2018, the agency apparently started to become more open by lifting the photo ban and allowing the press to photograph and post images of their talents and established their YouTube page for the trainee group, Johnny's Jr. After the death of the founder and president of the agency, Johnny Kitagawa, on July 9, 2019, his niece became the new president and at first it looked like she started to relax their notorious policies, such as allowing Arashi to release their music on Spotify and YouTube, but in the end, it was just wishful thinkingnote - they were quickly back to their old ways. Their latest shannenigans are the main reason Judgment and Lost Judgment are cases of No Port For You to the PC. Say what you want about them- they’re still evil to the core and deserve to be shot into the sun.
  • Several Scooter albums (Mind The Gap, Who's Got The Last Laugh Now, The Ultimate Aural Orgasm and their singles (apart from Jigga Jigga) were not released in the UK despite the band's popularity. The next album they released in the UK, Jumping All Over The World, went straight to Number One in the charts, and their following album Under The Radar, Over The Top was also moderately successful. The band have reverted to their usual formula of not releasing albums in the UK, much to the annoyance of fans.
  • Bomfunk MC's first album "In Stereo" was quite successful worldwide, but their two follow-ups, "Burnin' Sneakers" and "Reverse Psychology" were never released outside Northern Europe:
    • There are two signs "Burnin' Sneakers" was initially planned to be released in the UK - the first being that the lead single "Super Electric" WAS released there, and the second being that two songs "Put Ya Hands Up" and "We R Atomic" were included in the UK-developed PS1 game "Firebugs" as a taster of the album. Quite why it was cancelled remains a mystery.
    • As for "Reverse Psychology", its distribution and promotion were considerably lesser than the first two, with band and label politics making it somewhat scarcer than the others (even though its lead single "No Way In Hell" was quite a sizeable hit in Europe). The band went on hiatus a short time after the album's second single "Hypnotic".
  • The U.S. tightened visa requirements in the wake of 9/11, making it difficult for some foreign acts to tour the country unless they're superstars.
  • Inna's third album, Party Never Ends, was initially only released in a select few countries, excluding the US, despite the singles "Be My Lover", "More than Friends", and "In Your Eyes" being available there. Finally averted as of October 2014, when it became available on the US iTunes store, with a couple exclusive tracks to boot.
  • After Melanie Thornton left La Bouche, the group produced a single with Natasha Wright titled "All I Want", which was never released outside Europe due to its poor performance, and wasn't included on their Greatest Hits Album either.
  • Rita Ora's debut full-length Ora was supposed to have a US edition released in 2013, but the year came and went without any word. At least her singles made it over.
    • Same thing went for Jessie J's Alive, which took nearly two years from its original release date to finally debut in America. A statement from her record label pretty much revealed that they thought catchy, uptempo dancey pop rock "[wouldn't] work on [our] territory". It was thought that the chances of it being released in America were pretty much scrapped after the release of Sweet Talker, but it eventually appeared on streaming services in August 2015.
    • Even better is Nicole Scherzinger's 2011 album Killer Love, which remains unreleased in America. The kicker? She released another album, Big Fat Lie, thus ending her Killer Love era. If you're an American and you want the album, other than ordering it as an import, tough luck.
      • Compounding this even further, Big Fat Lie isn't available in America, either.
    • Steps' comeback album Light Up the World.
    • Roisin Murphy's Overpowered. It did however pop up on the iTunes Store starting in 2012, though.
    • Havana Brown's Flashing Lights.
  • Psyborg Corp's second album, The Frozen Shrines of Obsydyana, is only available as a $30 physical import, and has not surfaced on any digital download services so far, at least not those accessible in the US.
  • Want to purchase your favorite doujin music from your favorite circles? Chances are you will have to travel to Japan just to get a shot at buying it. It certainly doesn't help that:
    • Most websites that do sell them (Toranoana & Melonbooks, amongst few others) does not ship outside of Japan, requiring the use of proxy buying or forwarding service.
    • Websites which do export overseas tends to be expensive (which can go as much as trice the event price), inconvenient, low in quality, digital downloads only with no scans of physical album or any combination thereof. Most of them even carry only older releases. Even if they have new releases, they are very likely to be electronic music or Touhou arrangements. Original pop rock songs or instrumental music? Chances are they are unavailable unless the circle made it available digitally somewhere (Bandcamp or most of the time).
    • Some of the releases are event exclusive, which means once the event is over you are screwed over. Thankfully, this is relatively rare.
  • Frank Zappa's album Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention was released in two different versions back in 1985. One for the American market, which had the track "Porn Wars", which referenced the PMRC hearings about music censorship, and one for the European market, which left this track of the album and replaced it with three other tracks not available on the American version. Zappa thought his European audience probably wouldn't understand the PRMC references, despite the fact that this was also covered in the rest of the world.
  • While the characters Snuggle Bunny (Schnuffel) and Snuggelina (Schnuffelienchena) created by German cellphone and music company Jamster do have English versions of their songs, the CD and audiobooks starring the characters have never gotten English translations and are only available in Germany. The audiobooks go more in depth on their relationship and adventures.
  • Thanks to a contract related to YouTube Red forced on Japanese music companies that would block their music in the US unless they signed it, music from, Pony Canyon, Victor Entertainment, and for a while, Up-Front Music, which holds the music of Hello! Projectnote  is now unavailable in America when it previously wasn't.
  • The Pet Shop Boys' 1994 single "Absolutely Fabulous", which samples the British comedy series of the same name, has never been released in the States. This might simply be due to potential rights issues with the samples, as the show has been given decent exposure across the pond.
  • Finnish Alternative Rock group Poets of the Fall's albums tend to be released only in countries around Finland, although Carnival of Rust made it to Australia. Fortunately, they’re almost all available on iTunes and can be imported (at some cost) via Amazon. Best of Poets of the Fall, a Greatest Hits Album, is exclusive to India, due to them being huge there.
  • Taco, best known in the US for his cover of "Puttin' On the Ritz", has a motherload of records that have never seen Stateside release, including gems such as "Superphysical Resurrection", "Got to Be Your Lover", and "Love Touch".
  • Again, Bob Seger, in Malaysia. Most Malaysians have never heard of this musician before the late 90s, and when asked would actually confuse him with Full House star Bob Saget. Seger has since become better-known now thanks to the artist being mentioned in Shawn Mullin's Lullaby and eventually the band's music appeared in many games including Grand Theft Auto V, but yeah- good luck trying to find any of his CD releases locally. Also, Seger is in a long dispute with his record label and manager, which means his music isn't available digitally.
  • Two Jean-Michel Jarre concert videos only got very limited releases.
    • Concert pour la tolérance of the eponymous 1995 Paris concert was only ever released in France. On LaserDisc. The best chance you have at getting this concert is a radio or TV rip.
    • Oxygen In Moscow took place in the then-850-year-old city of Moscow in 1997, and it's still the concert with the biggest audience ever. First there wasn't any official release at all. Then Jarre's first official DVD popped up, named Oxygene Moscow and also featuring a one-hour documentary named Making The Steamroller Fly, but only available in the USA and Brazil and, of course, region-coded. It took several years until the disk saw a more widespread release.
  • The vast majority of Busted's discography can't be bought in America. Only their second and live albums are on iTunes, as well as only one single from the albums before and after it. This might be due in part to the fact that when they tried to break into the American market, they didn't really get too far, which is a shame, since they have a pretty good selection of songs all things considered. It's also weird that at least the American compilation album they put together during that time isn't on there either for some reason, though it might be because most of those songs are from their second anyway.
    • Their American compilation album is now officially on Spotify and YouTube in the US, as is their 3rd album, Night Driver and their 4th, Half Way There. As of 2020, their entire discography, minus their first and American compilation albums for some reason, is available to legally buy on places like iTunes as well.
  • Kim Wilde was dropped from her American label after the underperformance of Close, thus everything from Love Moves onward remained exclusive to Europe and Asia, at least until the digital age. Doesn't help that the Milli Vanilli scandal and the American backlash against bubblegum pop music came shortly after in 1990.
  • Jason Donovan's first album was the only album of his released in the USA, while both his first and second albums were released in Canada, but due to his unpopularity in North America, the rest of his albums were only exclusive to Europe and Asia.
  • Increasingly an Averted Trope in the streaming era. Many artists are available on streaming even if they have no physical distribution deals in certain countries, and import copies are also more readily available on online stores.
  • The Speedy Techno Remix of Pete Shelley's "Telephone Operator" featured in the DanceDanceRevolution series is only available on either his Japan-exclusive Greatest Hits Album or the DDRMAX JP OST.
  • Love Live!:
    • The song "CYaZALEA Kiss DADANDAAAN" from Love Live! Sunshine!! never got a digital release on overseas music services.
    • Despite the other alternate B-side editions of Liella's singles being released digitally overseas, the version of "Hajimari wa Kimi no Sora" with "Watashi no Symphony" never saw such a release.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: