I’m going to write this blog post here on WordPress. Then I’m going to go to another blogging site and write the exact same post. Well, it will be mostly the same post. I’ll tack on a little bit of “bonus information” at the end of it. That stuff won’t be here. It will just be on the other site. But before you wander away – I mean, why would you be reading it here if it’s going to have more stuff somewhere else? – let me warn you: there’s bonus stuff here, too. It’s just different bonus stuff. You’ll have to read both blog posts to get it all!
I’m just kidding, but this is what’s happening in the music industry right now, and I don’t like it. Lately, artists have been releasing all sorts of bonus tracks and deluxe editions and who-knows-what when they release an album. But it’s not like a blog where all the content is free. Remember all those new albums I was excited about this fall? They’re starting to drop, one by one, and I want them – but I don’t know where to buy anything!
Take Matchbox Twenty, for example. Their new album, North, came out last Tuesday. You could buy it on iTunes and get two bonus tracks that were only available on iTunes. You could buy it at Target and get two bonus tracks that were only available at Target. Or you could buy it somewhere else with no bonus tracks. Both bonus track versions were the same price which was, in turn, the same price as the versions elsewhere without bonus tracks. I wonder why anyone would choose to go the “elsewhere” route. In the end, I opted for Target because the iTunes bonus tracks are also on Spotify.
Of course, one could question why anyone would bother buying an album at all when Spotify exists, but I still like having my own copy of an album, particularly one from an artist I really enjoy. But the bonus track game is getting me down. I understand and appreciate the idea behind releasing a “normal” album and a deluxe edition that’s longer and more expensive. Sell a shorter, but complete, idea for the casual listener, and save the bonus tracks for the super fans who are willing to shell out a little more. That makes sense. (I also take issue with the artists who “re-release” a popular album a few months later with additional material. Way to stick it to the people who were already fans six months ago.)
I just don’t understand the economics or the politics behind releasing multiple versions of nearly the same record. What does the band get out of it? I know what iTunes gets. I know what Target gets. But I wonder if anyone cares what the fans get?