Bonus Beats are dead.
For you old school djs: take a deep breath. Have a moment. It will be ok.
For you new school djs, here is a little background:
Most simply: “Bonus Beats” refers to a track on a 12′ single comprised of the beats (all the drum and percussion parts) of a song, without the vocals, keys, bass, melody and other musical elements. This track was used by djs to either extend the mix of the main track on the single, or sometimes played within a dj mix on its own.
Often the Bonus Beats were added to a single to fill out a side of a record but the adventurous dj in the past might buy a 12 inch just to play the bonus beats. Bonus Beats tracks are usually shorter than the main track so sometimes djs would buy two copies of a single to mix the two bonus beats tracks (from each of the records) together to make it longer. Or, the dj could play the bonus beats with the main mix of a track to extend it and create his or her own edit on the fly.
Nevertheless, when a dj bought a 12″ single with a bonus beats track, he or she was getting that bonus track whether they wanted it or not. But now, with the advent of digital music, the 12 inch single (or EP) format is dead. Thus, there is no incentive for a producer to include a bonus beats track with a release, let alone for a punter to spend $1.99 on that track when they could spend the same on another full blown track that is not simply a dj tool or stripped down version of another track.
The foundation of any good track are the beats and a good Bonus Beats track can stand on its own. Economics and the simple evolution of formats has driven Bonus Beats into the oblivion, but it shouldn’t be so.
Let me be perfectly clear: I am all for technology and I have embraced new methodologies of djing, formats and styles. However, Bonus Beats are an invaluable tool in a dj’s arsenal and should be preserved.
As music producers, we are going to have to think and market our tracks differently in order to preserve Bonus Beats and this can be accomplished with the following steps:
- Keep making Bonus Beats; make them dope!
- Make them free with a download of the main mix of your project; otherwise they will be skipped over and not used.
- Play Bonus Beat tracks! This is the only way other people will realize the importance and potential of these simple but crucial pieces of music.
At the end of the day, there are no good bonus beats without a good track so the simple process of making good tracks will generate good bonus beats. That said, it is up to us producers to utilize these tools we create and update them into modern formats and if we don’t, we will be losing an integral piece in our dj repertoire.