QUick recap: What is an EP?
Typically, in the music business, EP stands for “extended play record” or “extended play.” An EP’s covers the middle ground between a single and a full-length album, and are shorter collections of songs often created for promotional use. EPs tend to be four to six songs in length and are usually comprised of original tracks that the artist hasn’t released.
The difference between an EP and an LP
When the recording industry was in its infancy, different companies produced analog records that played at different speeds on different sized formats. There were 78RPM, 45RPM, and 33 1/3 RPM discs. While the 78 was reserved for singles with a B-side on its opposite surface, the 33 1/3 RPM disc could fit about 5-6 songs on each side and was called the Long Play record (or LP). Similarly, the 45 RPM disc fit about 2-3 songs on each side and was called an Extended Play (or EP).
Historically EPs were used first as shorter records to release between longer albums, to keep a large fanbase, such as Elvis’ or The Beatles’, buying music while the act may be on tour and not able to record. They usually included bonus material, like songs cut from a previous album tracklist or covers of other artists’ work from an old session owned by the label.
Eventually, the LP won out as the most common format, and it wasn’t until the 80s when punk with shorter songs decided to make more affordable records and released EPs. So what does this mean for you?
Using These Three Formats To Your Advantage Today
Now, with online streaming, you don’t even have to shell out the money to press a vinyl LP or a CD EP. With just a click you can upload as much or as little music as you want, put it out there, and see how it fairs. So do you want to release a single, an LP, or an EP?
It depends on how much material you are working with. If you are a new artist who hasn’t released anything before, but has a good number of songs, what many bands do at first is to release your best song first as a single that is later included in an EP with a few more songs that show slight variations in your style. Ideally, you would upload the whole EP (3-5 songs, one being the single) and then choose to have the single released a month or so before the rest of the EP drops. This allows time to promote pre-save options and allow people to get excited about the song for when the rest of the EP is released.
Apple Music and Spotify have different parameters on what makes an EP vs. a single, and we’ll get into that at the end, but let’s continue to think about how you want to roll out your music.
If you are in a band that has released before and you have around 10-15 solid songs that all fit together nicely, you may want to upload all of them as an LP and then proceed with the same advanced single with a pre-save option for the LP for when it comes out. The difference here is you want to choose 2-3 other songs from the albums to release as subsequent singles after the LP drops. Planning all these things beforehand ensures a more successful promotion and rollout of not only the EP or LP but of the singles themselves.
So an EP can either be a great choice as a first release, to support and sustain momentum for a debut single. Or it can be used in its earlier form as a way to continue to provide content to your fans between full-length LPs.
The Elvis Method
Using an EP as they did in the pre-streaming industry is still a useful strategy. So let’s say you recorded twenty songs in a year and cut the tracklist down to the 12 that fit best together. You now have 8 other tracks that can be made into two EPs that can be released at strategic times to keep your fans interested and streaming your music.
One can be released on Cyber Monday or one of the many Bandcamp Fridays. The other can be saved to release when you’re working on that next LP, but it’s still months or a year away from coming out.
Whichever you choose, EPs and singles can be used to your advantage to fully flesh out a method for consistently releasing the music you create, even when you’re in the process of working on what’s up next.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A SINGLE?
Apple Music: The whole upload is 30 minutes or less and all individual tracks are less than 10 minutes. The upload is one to three (1-3) tracks.
Spotify: The upload has 3 or fewer tracks. The upload comes in at under 30 minutes.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED AN EP?
Apple Music: The upload has a total of (1-3) tracks, one or more of the tracks is/are 10 minutes or longer, and the entire upload is less than 30 minutes. The upload has a total of (4-6) tracks and the entire upload is less than 30 minutes. NOTE: If Apple Music’s system detects one of these parameters it will automatically tag “-EP” onto the title of your EP. So don’t include it yourself, it’ll look redundant.
Spotify: The upload has 4-6 tracks. The upload is under 30 minutes. Spotify will NOT add anything to the title of your EP, so if you want it as part of the title, this time include it yourself.
A FINAL WORD ABOUT WHICH WAY TO RELEASE A SINGLE
At the end of the day, it is up to you whether or not you want to release your single as part of a single with b-sides or as part of an EP. Many times it comes to the culture surrounding the genre of music you make. If you are in a band taking unused tunes from an old session, an EP seems an appropriate route to promote one of the tunes as a single. If you’re releasing a new single and a few DJs remixed it, the single with b-sides route may be a more familiar avenue to listeners. All in all the packaging is there to help listeners discover what they are looking to find – new great music.
Now choose your format, upload that great new music, and let it fly. When your albums are ready, Planetary Group is available to help musicians share their work with the rest of the world. We have promoted Indie Bands to EDM Artists to Pop Stars, and we are always looking for new and exciting talent! To hear more about the full array of radio promotions services Planetary Group can offer to musicians, call (323) 952-5050 today.