Created By: Mhwal on January 20, 2013 Last Edited By: Mhwal on January 26, 2013

International Bonus Track

Bonus material that is added to music albums when released outside North America.

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I've created a new YKTTW over at Bonus Track that includes this trope and the similar suggested examples. New examples or suggestions should go over there.

"They needed an extra track in Japan. It's to do with release dates and the dangers of imported copies -- and so it's a tradition with U2 to give their Japanese fans something extra as a kind of bonus for waiting. The UK and Ireland generally get the benefit -- in this instance with the inclusion of 'Fast Cars' on the album release."
-- Niall Stokes, The Stories Behind Every U2 Song

In addition to being an obvious Sub-Trope of Bonus Material, this trope/trivia is similar in form to two pre-existing tropes: Regional Bonus and Importation Expansion. However, both of these are limited in their scope: Regional Bonus applies only to video games, and even though the phenomenon of international bonus tracks is listed as a general example in Importation Expansion, the lead text makes it clear that the trope was only intended to cover film (with television getting rolled in due to also being a video-based medium).

I propose a couple of options to fix this problem, and I'd like to hear what the community preference is:

1. Create this proposed trope as a Sister Trope to Regional Bonus and Importation Expansion. This is my preference, since while the music industry's justifications for this practice are very similar to those used in video games (listed at Regional Bonus), how this gets implemented is sufficiently distinct to create a separate page. Plus, the potential list of examples in music is likely even longer than for video games, and it could get unwieldy if we merged them.

2. Roll music examples into Regional Bonus and remove them from Importation Expansion. Importation Expansion, while still a Sister Trope, is a very distinct (and increasingly disappearing) phenomenon inapplicable to music (where the practice is still going strong).

3. Create a more expansive Daughter Trope of Bonus Material simply entitled Bonus Track, and list this as one possible justification. (This would also catch iTunes Bonus Tracks and the like. I'd like to see that article created too, regardless of whether this one is merged into it or kept separate, since the Bonus Material trope is a bit too broad for my liking and nesting Bonus Track under it would solve that problem.)

If option 1 is selected, I'm also very open to suggestions for the title; the "international" part is a bit tricky, particularly in cases where domestic releases are treated as international releases (such as the quote above, where the Ireland gets an international bonus track despite U2 being from Dublin).
Community Feedback Replies: 2
  • January 20, 2013
    Sounds like a good trope to have around. Option 1 and 3 both seem like smarter ways to go with this, as option 2 would probably wind up overcomplicating the Regional Bonus page.
  • January 20, 2013
    The Limited Special Collectors Ultimate Edition of the album also frequently comes with bonus tracks.

    Come to think of it, I can think of a few other causes for bonus tracks:
    • The "buy the album from us" bonus. Big box retailers like Best Buy, Target, or Walmart will frequently make deals with record labels to release exclusive Special Editions of popular albums with bonus tracks. Ironically, CDs, even these special editions, tend to be loss leaders for the big box retailers (i.e. the store actually sells the albums at a loss--the real point is to get customers into the store, so they'll also buy something bigger which will make the store money).
    • The "new technology adopter" bonus. Whichever the hot, new format is, that's the one that gets the bonus tracks. Sometimes it's the bands and producers taking advantage of the longer runtime, and sometimes it's the labels pushing listeners to switch over to the new format. So, when CDs were the hot new thing, they got bonus tracks compared to the cassette or vinyl release. Then, when mp3 downloads were the hot new thing, they got exclusive tracks that didn't show up on the CD. Now, ironically, vinyl is the hot new thing in the indie scene, so there are examples where the vinyl version has bonus tracks compared to the CD or mp3 release.
    • The rerelease bonus tracks. Stick bonus tracks on an album that's already been released, and you can make fans who already own the album buy a second copy! Often overlaps with the aforementioned new technology bonus--a lot of albums from the age of vinyl got bonus tracks when they were rereleased on CD in the 90s or later.