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I hear this questions all the time. What is an EP?
This is something you need to be aware of if you plan on becoming an artist.
To get straight to the point, EP stands for "extended play". An EP typically contains 3 to 5 tracks. More than a single, but less than a complete album. They are far less time consuming and require fewer resources compared to a complete album.
So why are they becoming so popular? Full-scale albums require a ton of work and often require a more developed sound than EPs. Albums are usually expected to carry a theme and a message, whereas EPs can be a little more casual.
Are EPs just for new artists?
Not really, EPs can be strategically used at any point during your career.
What Are EPs Used For?
EPs are created for a number of different reasons. It really depends on the situation of the artist releasing the EP. New artists will use an EP as a way to demonstrate their talent before committing to a full-scale album. However, more established artists may use an EP for:
- Keeping fans interested between album releases. EPs can be created much faster than complete albums and can provide a much-needed source of music for anxious fans.
- Experimenting. EPs are perfect platforms for artists to try out new and experimental ideas. They require much less investment and can be a great way of testing the water rather than just releasing a single.
Both new and developed artists alike will use an EP for promotional reasons. They can be great incentives for your fans to join your email list, promote your upcoming tour, or sharing your music with their friends.
Finally, artists will sometimes use EPs to release all of their unreleased tracks. Artists will usually have a large number of tracks that haven't been fully developed. EPs are a perfect vehicle to release these unused tracks.
How Many Tracks Are There On An EP?
There are typically somewhere between 4-6 tracks on an EP. It really depends on the purpose of the EP. If the artist is releasing the EP between albums, it will often only contain 4-5 tracks as this will require less investment. If the artist is selling their EP there are usually a little more tracks as it provides more value to the consumer.
If you are creating your own EP it really doesn't matter how many tracks you release. If it takes a great effort for each track and you are giving away your EP for promotional reasons (say to build your email list or promote your upcoming tour) then it is best if you stick to around 4 tracks.
Considerations For Creating Your Own Extended Play
EPs can be a great move for any artist. If you've been thinking about releasing an EP here are a few considerations you should be thinking about:
- Choosing the number of tracks
Are you releasing this EP for free? Or will you be using it as a source of revenue? Fans are much more inclined to purchase an EP if it contains 5 or more tracks. If you will be using it as a promotional tool consider only releasing 3-4 songs.
- What Style of Song?
Can you touch up a few of your unreleased songs and give them away in exchange for subscribers to your email list? Are you wanting to experiment with a new signature sound? EPs are great options to gauge your fan base's reactions to a switch up in style.
- Structure and Theme
While not as integral as a full-length album, EPs can still have structure and a theme. Is there a specific reason you are releasing this EP other than for promotional reasons? Do you want to have an intro and outro track?
What's The Difference Between An EP and An LP?
If you've been around the music industry for any period of time you've probably heard the term LP. What does it mean? LP stands for "Long Playing". Similar to EP, it originates from the days of vinyl. It originally referred to a 33 1/3 vinyl record. However, it has evolved to refer to full-length albums.
LPs are often comprised of 10-12 tracks. They are very time intensive and require a lot of investment of both time and money.
Both terms originated from the vinyl days but have since been transferred over. The exact definition isn't applicable in today's digital download and streaming culture.
- 9-12 tracks
- Significant resource investment
- More thought and planning involved
Just think of EPs as half albums. Perfect for promotion, getting noticed, or as a test for experimentation.
LPs usually contain well-developed ideas and themes. Most artists will usually release an initial EP to see if they can get any traction and then follow up with a LP.
When Should I Release An EP?
This question doesn't always have a straightforward answer. If you have not yet officially released an LP I'd recommend testing the waters with an EP. This way you can potentially save yourself 100s of hours of working on something that will ultimately flop.
If you've released an EP and you've got some traction it's time to release an LP. While they do take much more effort and time to create, they will be the cornerstones and signposts of your music career. There is nothing more rewarding than completing an LP you can be proud of.
If you are still unsure about releasing an EP, you can always test the waters with a few back to back singles. If things are going well you can subsequently release them on a follow-up EP.