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It’s no secret that Japan gets a lot of stuff other countries don’t. What I’m here to do is basically explain why this happens. This sometimes includes bonus tracks.
Many people think it’s because the music industry in Japan has more money than those in other countries, but this isn’t true. Japanese CDs cost about the same to produce as those released in America.
You see, Japanese musicians make approximately 90% of their money from live shows and merchandise. It’s possible to make a living from what you get from CD sales, but not many people can do it.
So if a musician releases a new album every year, they would need to put on about 60 shows a year to make enough money.
On the other hand, musicians are considered “rich” if they sell 100,000 records in America.
This means they only need to play about 6 shows a year to support themselves financially.
It’s easy for American musicians to stay at home and focus on making music all the time. That’s why many musicians you hear about in America are solo artists who don’t have a full band.
In Japan, it’s the opposite. There are a lot of bands because people depend on their music to make a living.
This is why Japanese CDs come with bonus tracks. If an artist goes into the studio and records ten songs in Japan, they have to release all 10 songs.
They can’t just release nine songs and leave one off the album because that would be a waste of money. That’s why artists put a lot more work into their albums in Japan.
Bonus tracks in Japan are used for two reasons:
- To help establish yourself as an artist by releasing songs that are easy to listen to. You want people to hear your music, but you know it’s hard for others to get into your pieces when they’re all so different from one another. That’s why bands record songs that are similar in genre or sound like the other tracks on the album.
- To give money back to the fans. This is actually pretty self-explanatory. Artists will release album versions of songs, acoustic performances, or live versions as bonus tracks so people can buy them if they want to.
What is the point of bonus tracks?
The point of bonus tracks is to give fans more music. Fans can buy the album and support their favorite artists, get the album, rip the tracks onto iTunes, and delete the songs.
Which do you prefer?
Would you instead get an additional track when you buy an album or get nothing at all if you choose not to purchase the album?
I prefer to get an additional track when I purchase an album. Bonus tracks are fantastic because you get to listen to something new that the artist worked hard on, and if you’re like me, your favorite band’s bonus tracks are usually your favorite songs.
But there is another reason why people buy albums:
To support their favorite artists. If a band releases an album with bonus tracks and you choose not to buy it, the band doesn’t get any money for those tracks.
Different artists have different reasons for wanting your money. Some want as much as possible to support their careers, while other bands only need enough to pay bills until they can start earning back their money from live shows.
Can an EP have a bonus track?
An EP is considered the same as an album (at least in Japan). So if you buy a mini-album on iTunes, your only option would be to get the album’s standard version.
There are some cases where artists release special EPs that don’t contain all the songs found on the regular albums. Those EPs will usually have the same number of pieces as other releases.
Bonus tracks are a luxury in America because artists tour there so often. That’s why American CDs almost always come with standard versions only.
But Japanese CDs have standard versions and several other types of releases all packed into one album. You get to choose what you want to buy, making the CD a more attractive purchase for consumers.
So the next time you buy an album, think about this article. Should music be a luxury or something everyone can enjoy?
Remember that artists have to divide their income to pay for rent, utilities, food, and recording studios. They don’t just record songs because they’re bored at home.
So support your favorite bands by buying their albums.
Bonus tracks are great, but if you take away the reason behind why an artist releases them in the first place, you take away the point of having extra songs on a CD.
Do people buy CDs in Japan??
Yes, CDs are bought in Japan too. In the United States, CD sales have been declining over the past few years because everyone listens to music on their phones or computers.
But when you buy a physical copy of an album, you get something you can hold onto and look at when your favorite artists’ songs come up on your phone playlist.
How much does a CD cost in Japan?
CDs in Japan are between $20 – $30. You can buy special editions like this for about $40 – $50 (with DVDs, posters, etc.).
So what do Japanese artists make?
Japanese artists make an average of 2500 yen per album sold. It’s important to note that this is not the money the artist gets for making the music.
This is the money they get once their album has made back production costs. (which can be quickly recouped if the album contains clean versions of songs already released as singles).
Interesting side notes: Japanese bands sometimes receive more money from their labels if they sell albums overseas.
For some artists, it’s easier to break into foreign markets than others because of the musical style or lyrics sung in English.
Some of the most famous Japanese bands in the U.S. are BABYMETAL, ONE OK ROCK, Perfume, and RADWIMPS!