Article - Bonus Tracks Or Not Bonus Tracks... That is The Question

Written by Mads

This is a letter to all out there in Metal land, who hate the fact that there are different versions of albums in different parts of the world. I have the feeling that I am getting cheated when I see that the Japanese cds often have one or more Bonus tracks. I know that the cds are much more expensive in Japan than they are here in Denmark. But the price of a cd in Denmark is not that cheap any more. And am I not as big a fan, as the Japanese metal fans, because I live here in Europe?

I know that the bonus tracks surface here in Europe sometime later. But take a band like Pain Of Salvation, their brilliant album Remedy Lane contained a track called Thorn Clown on the Japanese version of the album. And as a fan, the only way I can get that track is by either ordering an expensive copy from Japan or download it from the net (which I am very much against).

Also, I think that bonus tracks in general are annoying because you have to by the albums as soon as they are released. But what If I discover the bands years later, am I not entitled to the tracks that fans of the time of release are. Or am I damned to be without these tracks and never know them, before they surface on a Best of album, where the tracks probably are on another special limited edition, so I have to buy that album as soon as it is released?

I am one of those people who want everything from a band that I like. That means everything the band releases. This means that I sometimes have to pay a few extra euros but what the hell, I don't mind when I get something extra. But what about the people who buy the cheap edition and then download the other tracks along with other tracks that they don't pay for either.

When I get the chance, I buy the versions with bonus tracks, videos, making of, discs and additional liner notes. As I have mentioned most of the albums I own are because I am a big fan of those particular bands. And I know that a lot of other people also are fans but don't want to have to pay extra money for just one track. So why not make a rule among the record labels that a limited edition cd has to contain more than just one bonus track? I want several bonus tracks, videos, making of., and maybe additional liner notes. That would be cool if they did that. The three CD limited release of Spock's Beard - Snow is a perfect example of a Limited Edition done right.

What are your opinions on this matter? Please reply with your answers. Because I think it's an interesting subject for discussion.

Mads Erdland Aanum
RevelationZ Magazine

Written by Mads
Monday, March 17, 2003

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RevelationZ Comments

Comment by Law (Anonymous) - Tuesday, March 18, 2003
I thoroughly agree. It's a ridiculous scenario that a CD has to have "bonus" tracks just so the Japanese will buy it and we can miss out. At least here in Australia alot of the best metal albums are imports anyway and most importers attempt to get the additional track versions of the CDs if they can. When I buy a new CD and later find out its also been released with bonus material, I really feel cheated.
Also a pity since on quite a few CDs the bonus track is well and truly as good if not better than the rest of the album (eg On Edguy's Mandrake, the bonus - "The Devil And The Savant" is awesome)
Record Labels take note - we, the buyers are the real fans.

Comment by Mads (Anonymous) - Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Yes I agree with the Edguy track it kicks ass...

Comment by Tommy (Member) - Tuesday, March 18, 2003
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Comments: 74
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Yes this certainly is a very important theme.
It's fine to have extra songs or other stuff on an album, but all editions should so there would be only one edition for the whole world.
CD's are expensive enough as it is. I always buy the special edition because I want everything by the bands I love, but it surely would be much easier with only one example and then that's it.
It is a big problem when you want a special edition of a record, and then you find out that it is almost impossible to find.

I hope that the record business will change their policy, and give all Metal fans the possibility to buy the same music at the same price, anywhere any time.

Posted by Tommy
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Comment by Claus / Intromental Management (Anonymous) - Friday, March 21, 2003
I am not sure if I should get involved in this discussion, since I have a completely different perspective on it that you guys, and I don't really want to make enemies just over such a "minor" subject. But the fact is that there's a reason as to why the Japanese companies demands the bonus track for their releases, and why we (the managements and/or the musicians) choose to give them that extra song.

In Japan the price for printing CDs are more expensive than what it would cost for them to import finished products. Therefor the record companies in Japan, who wants to release products instead of importing products, need 1) a bonus track and 2) a couple of weeks headstart on the rest of the world w the release date, otherwise it would be "financial suicide" to them. The CDs that the Japanese companies releases are also more expensive for the Japanese fan (due to the higher pressing costs) than the imports.

Another market is t.ex. Korea, who also demands a bonus track, which is different than the European or the Japanese bonus tracks. Why? Well, because the imports in Korea also are cheaper than the ones printed there.

And so on and so on ... thus, we might end up with 4-5 different versions of ONE cd. Sometimes we can get past the point of providing bonus tracks, if we instead give them something different (such as a poster, a digipack or whatever), but usually it's the bonus track that decides if you get a deal in t.ex. Japan, and from the musicians point of view this is DAMN important, as the money to be made are huge over there.

Sorry guys, but with the situation of the different markets/territories right now (as long as imports often are cheaper than officially printed CDs), there aren't much to do about the bonus tracks. They are a necessity.

All the best - thx for reading,

Claus Jensen
managing director

Intromental Management

Comment by Tommy (Member) - Tuesday, March 25, 2003
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Well Claus I see your point, and it is a difficult subject.
But as I look at it you can see it from the fan side and from the business/money aspect of it.
If only one CD was produced, the only way to deal with the higher prices in ex. Japan was to accept high imports, or lower the price on the domestic market. If the domestic prices was lowered, there would be bought more CD's, making up for some of the loss due to lower prices and loss to imports.
I know that life is not always that simple, wish it was, but maybe a strategy in the direction of the one mentioned above could help the low sales in Japan, and stop the bonustrack madness.

Stuff in Japan is very expensive, but does it have to be a completely "new" track they get when the bonus approach is taking in. What about a poster, some DVD or PC features, or a live song. I know that the sales would be better if it was a "new" song, but money isn't everything.

As a mega Metal fan, I get pissed of when I find out that there exist songs that, because I live In Europe can't get a hold on, or have to pay around 40 Euros for.

Many bands find it very important to enter a new market, and this is clearly understandable. But bands have some power over what they wish to engage in. I hope that more bands, if no other possibilities exist to bring Metal to Japan, would restrict the bonus material to posters, DVD stuff and live songs.

Something that also is very important is that the bonus stuff becomes availed later on for people outside Japan. And there I don't mean on expensive singles or questionable best offs.

I have noticed that more and more CD's in Europe is released in different versions. When a record company does this, one of their objectives is to earn a higher profit. Why is it then that many of these special editions are sold out very quickly? I find this completely silly. There are a great deal of consumers that are ready to pay for the special edition (now and in the future), but that does not help very much when the record companies does not make enough of them! Are they afraid of earning too much? Think about that future market. If I discover a new band that released a CD two ears ago, and I want to get a hold of the special edition, my situation is not that great, either because it is sold out, I have to wait for ex. 4 moths to get it, or pay a too high price for it.
One thing is releasing special editions, but if companies do, then for the sake of everybody make enough of them, what is there to lose other than a higher profit.
Metal to the people.

RevelationZ Magazine

Posted by Tommy
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Comment by (Anonymous) - Saturday, March 20, 2004
I've done an editorial about not only bonus tracks but the "limited" edition nonsense as well.

was that a shameless plug? Yes it was.

Claus makes a very very spot on point too about Japan, in my mind Japan can sort of get away with having their bonuses even if it does irk me. The thing that makes me mad though is when an album is released in about 50 goddamned formats in one terriitory.


Comment by DsssM (Anonymous) - Tuesday, November 16, 2004
It’s not tragic if bonus track is another version of old song (live, acoustic, remix) or cover (sometimes it could be interesting). Quite often these bonus songs are nothing special, but in some cases it could be one of the bands best songs like Nightwish’s “Wayfarer”, which was bonus on Japanese or Korean edition. Off course, quite often I could get this song on b-sides and bonus compilation (Dark Moore’s “Between Light And Darkness” ) or best off as it is in case of Nightwish “Tales from the Elvenpath” (I get it “Wayfarer” on “Bless the Child” limited edition EP ;). But the situation with these limited editions, digipacks and Brazilian, Japan etc. editions are unfair, because I afraid that quite many good songs get lost from fans and not all bands release unrealized material, and if do, then once in 10 years or after disbanding. Additionally there could be also a difference between European and American release (each have different bonus track and one could be better than other).

Talking about prices in Japan – today all companies’ tries to minimize the cost of product, so it’s strange that in Japan they don’t want to import cheaper CD’s but produces expensive ones. SONY TV’s for Europe are produced in Spain and Slovakia, because it’s cheaper than to import it from Taiwan or Japan. If it be opposite, then we prefer to import it.

P.S. It’s good that there are a lot of bands that deal with all this bonus, limited edition and single shit. Support them!

Comment by DsssM (Anonymous) - Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Sorry, I type it wrong

P.S. It’s good that there are a lot of bands that don’t deal with all this bonus, limited edition and single shit. Support them!

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