The Great Rock and Roll Swindle
The practice of bonus tracks has become fairly commonplace over the past few years. The idea is that in exchange for increased advertising and in-store promotion, a retailer is given an exclusive bonus track with their version of whatever album they are selling. While it angers some fans and other retailers, it's really a pretty fair deal. If a company is going to go the extra mile to help promote an artist, they deserve to have an extra incentive for people to buy the album from them. Of course, any good idea is eventually going to be exploited.
Last week, the Smashing Pumpkins released their new album Zeitgeist, and three different retailers all got exclusive bonus tracks. Target's version contained the track "Zeitgest," while fans who bought the album at Best Buy got the song "Death From Above." And if you bought the album at iTunes, you received the track "Stellar." If you picked up the album anywhere else, you got the standard twelve song version. Feeling ripped off? I'm sure you could find the bonus tracks online if you looked hard enough.
I realize that record companies are trying to make up for declining album sales, but forcing hardcore fans to buy the same album three times reeks of a blatant cash grab. If the industry is still wondering why people don't want to shell out eighteen bucks for a CD anymore, consider this another shining example.
Spinal Tap - "Gimme Some Money" (mp3) from the This Is Spinal Tap soundtrack