[Editors Note: This article was written by Hugh McIntyre. For the second installment, which focuses on some of the downsides of releasing an EP, click here!]
When it comes to recording and releasing new music, the focus seems to has traditionally been on ‘the album’. Fans have always asked when ‘the next album’ will arrive, and articles like this one which aim to provide advice to those looking to make a living in music also adhere almost solely to the format…but it’s not the only one worth talking about!
People don’t give nearly enough credit to the EP, which is basically a short album that typically is made up of between three and eight songs. It can be less than 10 minutes long or closer to half an hour, and there are so many ways you as an artist can approach the project.
(Ed. Note: First off, what defines an EP as it pertains to digital distribution to Apple and Spotify? See below:
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.
– 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.)
If you’ve never considered releasing an EP for your fans, you really should, as there seem to be more benefits than tracks on the average release, which I’ve listed below.
1. They Take Less Time To Record
Recording an album is an exhausting, lengthy process, and while many musicians are eager to get into the studio to create music, those same people can’t run away from the building faster by the time they’ve completed a new one.
Albums are often spaced out so far apart because actually recording (and re-recording and re-recording again) every song takes weeks, or sometimes months; and in between sessions, there’s a lot of touring, writing, and general living to do.
Since they’re shorter, EPs don’t take nearly as much time to finish and put into the world, which makes them attractive for many artists who may already have studio fatigue.
2. Release Them In Between Albums
As I mentioned (and as any recording artist already knows), albums take a long time to complete, and sometimes, despite a musician’s best intentions, years can go by in between proper releases. That used to be acceptable in the past, but the music industry has sped up in the last decade or so, and now fans have an insatiable appetite for new tunes.
Instead of rushing a new record and giving it to a growing fan base before it’s truly ready, releasing an EP can be a great way to appease the masses. Sure, diehards will be looking for more in just a few weeks, but at least you will have bought yourself some time, and hopefully, some will understand that you need more time to hone and perfect your art.
3. They Can Exist In Many Different Contexts
Most albums are simply traditional studio albums, plain and simple. They are collections of studio recordings of songs written specifically for a new release. EPs, however, can come in many different forms, and you can connect them to past or future projects in inventive ways.
The most common option is to simply release an EP and let it exist as a standalone product, and that’s perfectly fine.
You can also extend the life of a previously-released record by attaching an EP’s-worth of new music onto it and re-releasing it as a deluxe edition. Some artists choose to only sell that as an entire package, while others allow loyal listeners to purchase just the previously-unheard tunes as a standalone project. Bundling the two is a good way to rack up a few more sales or streams, as it reignites interest in the first project, if only for a little while.
4. Many Concepts Are Feasible
As I stated above, most albums are simply studio albums of new songs, and though there are ways to spice things up and try something new, that’s not the norm. It’s less unusual to see EPs that stick to one concept, and if you decide to be an artist who wants to release these short collections on a semi-regular basis, there’s a lot you can do.
Whether they’re comprised of live recordings, acoustic recordings, remixes of one song, remixes of songs from an album, covers, or maybe just entirely new songs, people have gotten used to seeing EPs feature only one kind of music, and there’s a lot of freedom in this field.
5. Sell Some Music!
Albums sales drop every year, and that trend isn’t turning around anytime soon. If the biggest stars on the planet are having a difficult time moving physical product, chances are you feel the same pains. I’m not suggesting that the format is completely dead, but it is hard for many listeners, even the biggest fans, to justify spending $12 for a collection of songs they can stream on their favorite platform for much less (and it’s hard to fault them for sticking to that plan).
EPs are typically easier to sell, as they cost much less. They’re cheaper to record, so they can be sold at a lower price point, which is definitely fan-friendly. Think about adding a few EPs to your merch table at upcoming shows and tours and offer them for just a few dollars (under $5 is ideal), and you may see your merch sales climb.
Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.Tags: