4 Downsides of Releasing an EP

August 6, 2018

[Editors Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre and is a follow-up to “5 Benefits Associated With Releasing an EP” – for a well-rounded viewpoint on EP release strategy, head on over and check it out after you read this installment!]

In a post that went up last week on this the TuneCore Blog, I discussed some of the key benefits associated with creating and releasing an EP as a musician. They’re fun for both the artist behind them and the fans, and they can be useful in strategic ways for those making a living off of their music…but as is the case with anything in this world, there are also plenty of downsides.

If you’re thinking of working on an EP after checking out the first part of this article series, or maybe if you’re still not sure if going in this direction is a good fit, it’s worth looking at some of the downsides connected to EPs, which I’ve listed and explained below.

(Ed. Note: First off, what defines an EP as it pertains to digital distribution to Apple and Spotify? See below:

In iTunes:

In order for a release to be considered an EP, it must meet one of the following two requirements:

– The release has a total of one to three (1-3) tracks, one or more of the tracks is/are 10 minutes or longer and entire release is less than 30 minutes.

– The release has a total of four to six (4-6) tracks and the entire release is less than 30 minutes.

– If your release meets the above requirements and you do not have “- EP” in the title of your album, iTunes will automatically insert “- EP” in the title when delivering your album to the store.

In Spotify:

– Your music will be classified under the EP category if:
– The release is under 30 minutes.
– The release has 4-6 tracks.
– Spotify will not change the title of your release.)

1. EPs Still Require Time And Money

Because of the fact that EPs only feature between three and eight songs, they are typically cheaper to record, and they don’t take quite as much time to write and produce. In fact, they can require about half of the resources necessary for a full-length, which is a sentence that will surely excite cash-strapped artists who feel the need to create.

While an EP won’t run you nearly as much as a full album, that doesn’t mean they come cheap. Anytime you step into a studio to record more than one song, the bill is likely going to come to several hundred dollars, if not thousands. When you add paying for people to mix, master, and engineer the songs you just crafted, and also tack on the expenses of a photographer or designer for the cover, creating the physical edition of the EP (if you’re going that route), and distributing the thing, these bite-sized pieces of music can still sap your bank account of treasured funds.

2. They Don’t Retain Interest As Long

When you release a full album, your fans are probably going to rush to buy it or stream it in full, and in less than an hour, they will have consumed what took you months, or possibly even years, to compose and record. Some won’t return to the collection, while others will press replay on the complete tracklist, or perhaps just a few favorites, which is ideal.

If you’re lucky, fans will continue to stay interested in your latest album for months or maybe a year, during which time you can push singles, release music videos, tour behind the project, and rack up as many streams and sales as possible.

Since there isn’t as much music featured on an EP and the release of a short album doesn’t typically demand the same promotional and touring efforts, the lifespan of one isn’t nearly as long. You might pour just as much of your love and attention into making the best music as possible, but by calling it an EP, even your biggest fans might not hold on and keep listening as long as you’d like.

3. EPs Sell For Less

One of the biggest benefits of creating an EP is that you can sell them at a lower price point. That makes these short records attractive when fans see them on your merch table at a concert or in your online store, and you might be able to convince some people to buy a physical or digital copy when they might otherwise stay away.

Having said that, the lower price point is a double-edged sword, as it can also hurt you as an artist. Selling a collection of songs that took weeks or months to finish for just three or four dollars is tough, both to watch and to stomach financially. Sure, it’s a few extra bucks that might not have found their way to you otherwise, but unless you can move a large number of EPs, perhaps the upfront investment might just be too much for some.

4. Lack Of Media Attention

When you have a new album ready for the world, it’s a fantastic time to begin reaching out to the media, either on your own or by employing the services of a public relations or publicity firm.

Blogs and magazines typically pay attention when you have a full album on the way, or, at least, that’s when you stand the best chance of getting them to notice you. Full album campaigns usually mean there’s a single, music videos, and a tour, and that might mean a complete story is just waiting to be told.

Just as is the case with some fans, media outlets might not be as eager about your EP, and they might be less willing to report on your three-song collection, as it’s just not quite as thrilling, and it doesn’t always make for a good headline. Even some major artists who offer EPs in between albums have a difficult time accruing the same number of press mentions they would if a complete record was on the way.

Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.

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