You're a musician, and you've just completed your latest album. This is your masterpiece. Never before have 10-14 songs been arranged so sublimely. You take it into your manager, eager to share your creation. Your manager listens attentively, and then tells you, "Sounds great. Now record another song or two so we have extras for the international release. And the digital release. And don't forget the Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition
The Bonus Track is a specific kind of Bonus Material
that has become ubiquitous in the music industry. The Spiritual Successor
to the increasingly rare B-Side
, the Bonus Track is a song that, while not technically part of the main album as an artistic statement, is nevertheless included on it. Often, they are used as an incentive to buy a specific edition of the album, particularly as opposed to the Vanilla Edition
Some specific motivations for including Bonus Tracks are:
- The International Bonus Track: Albums, particularly physical releases, can often be more expensive outside North America, or see their release dates delayed significantly. To counteract the inevitable urge to import the cheaper and more readily available North American edition, international markets (particularly Japan and Europe) will include extra songs on albums to ensure that they're bought at home. Compare Regional Bonus (for video games) and Importation Expansion (for visual media).
- The Deluxe Edition Bonus Track: You have a special edition of an album planned at a premium price point. What better way to lure in buyers than including additional songs? Sometimes, the bonus tracks may be the only difference between the Deluxe Edition and the Vanilla Edition; other times, they may be included in addition to other Bonus Material.
- The Retailer-Specific Bonus Track: Album prices tend to be rather similar, if not identical, across retailers. So how do you ensure that consumers buy it from you as opposed to a competitor? Easy: Negotiate with the artist or their label to release a retailer-specific edition of the album with songs you can't hear anywhere else. This also applies to digital retailers like the iTunes Store, where bonus tracks can also be an incentive to buy the whole album as opposed to cherry-picking individual songs.
- The Reissue Bonus Track: The album in question has been out for years. A rerelease will likely draw in new fans, but what about the old ones who already own the album? How do you make them buy it again? The answer is obvious: Bonus tracks! Reissue bonus tracks usually take a couple of unique forms. They may be B-Sides from the album that were previously only available on singles that are now long out of print. They might be previously unreleased tracks from recording sessions in the era that the album was made. They might even be bonus tracks already, but ones previously unavailable outside certain regions (see The International Bonus Track above).
- The Compilation Bonus Track: Similar to the Reissue Bonus Track, these are usually attempts to coax existing fans into buying compilations and greatest hits releases when they already own most or all of the original albums. These bonus tracks, more often than Reissue Bonus Tracks, are entirely new material.
of Bonus Material
. This specifically deals with the music industry. Contrast Hidden Track
, which is when an extra song is included on an album, but its presence is not
advertised, and is instead used to surprise people who would have bought the album anyway.
[[folder: International bonus tracks]]
[[folder: Deluxe Edition bonus tracks]]
[[folder: Retailer-specific bonus tracks]]
- Taylor Swift has made deals like this with Target stores in the US on multiple occasions, resulting in Target-exclusive editions of Speak Now (2010) and Red (2012).
- These overlap with International Bonus Track in a unique way: Since the agreements only cover the US, the Target-exclusive editions are released as non-retailer-specific Deluxe Editions everywhere else in the world.
- Subverted with the Walmart-exclusive zinepak of Red; while the packaging and booklet were expanded, the CD itself had no bonus tracks.
- Switchfoot's album Oh! Gravity had Target, Walmart, and iTunes-exclusive versions, each with one or more completely unique bonus songs.
- Sufjan Stevens' Michigan on iTunes comes with a number of tracks that had been recorded during the sessions but didn't make the final cut. Illinois on iTunes came with a cut song ("The Avalanche", which was released on another album later) and a remix of "Chicago".
- When Starflyer 59 was signed to Tooth & Nail Records, vinyl versions of their albums were only released through other record labels. The vinyl versions of The Fashion Focus, Everybody Makes Mistakes, and The Changing of the Guard each included bonus songs on a 7" single. The vinyl version of Dial M included the bonus song "Majic" as the last cut on the disc itself. This song was also included on the iTunes version of Dial M.
[[folder: Reissue bonus tracks]]
- U2 has included bonus tracks with every album reissue they have done to date... but usually, you have to buy the Deluxe Edition to hear them, with the basic editions containing just the remastered album.
- The 20th anniversary reissue of Achtung Baby (1991) in 2011 took this Up to Eleven, by releasing a standard edition with no bonus tracks, a Deluxe Edition with an extra CD of bonus tracks, and a Super Deluxe Edition and Über Deluxe Edition, each with four extra CDs of bonus tracks (among other goodies).
- When Starflyer 59's first two albums were reissued for their 10th anniversary, both were bundled with material that had been released near the same time and was by then out of print. Silver had the entire She's the Queen EP tacked on the end. Gold had the Goodbyes Are Sad and Le Vainqueur EPs (minus the radio edit of the title track from the latter).
- Five Iron Frenzy's final studio album before their breakup, The End Is Near, was initially only available at their live shows or through a single online retailer. The year after their breakup, it was reissued as The End Is Here (and sold through far more retailers). This version was two discs: the original album with one bonus song, and a live recording of (almost) their entire last concert.
[[folder: Compilation bonus tracks]]
- Michael Jackson did this a couple of times.
- "One More Chance" on the greatest hits compilation Number Ones (2003).
- Several previously unreleased tracks on the five-CD compilation The Ultimate Collection (2004). Of particular note is the final new recording completed and commercially released song during his lifetime: "We've Had Enough", an anti-Iraq War Protest Song.
- P!nk included two new songs on Greatest Hits... So Far!!!': "Raise Your Glass" and "Fuckin' Perfect". The album title proved prophetic when both of them were released as singles, and hit #1 and #2 respectively on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Starflyer 59's retrospective Easy Come Easy Go had a second disc of non-album tracks. Some of them were rare b-sides or EP tracks, but others were previously-unreleased cut songs, or live recordings.