Short EPs Verses Full Length Albums

2011 Dec 05, 2011

Let’s talk a little bit about the state of the music industry and how it relates to home recording. I’m no expert, but in recent years we seem to have seen the shift away from full length albums and instead the re-emergence of shorter 5 go 7 song EP. Now this is a blanket statement that can seem untrue. There are still plenty of full length albums being released every week to be sure. The trend I’m seeing, however, is with independent artists and bands and I find it interesting.


Via José Carlos Casimiro

EPs Mean More Focus

So what is it about an EP that is so appealing? Well, first of all you don’t have to write as many songs. Instead of trying to fill a 10 to 12 song album where maybe only half of them are any good, you can focus on writing just 5 or 6 great songs. Secondly, and I think more practically, it is way more efficient to work on only 6 songs instead of 12.
When you plan to release only 6 songs, you can spend more of your recording time (and money) focusing on those 6 songs. If this involves studio time, it can mean money saved or more attention paid to getting top notch tracks. If recording yourself, it means more time and freedom to experiment in the studio. And when it comes to mixing this can mean more time devoted to bringing out the little nuances in each mix, rather than trying to get 12 decent sounding mixes.

EPs Mean More Music

If you go the route of releasing EPs rather than albums this can result you actually releasing more music more often. Let me explain. With a traditional artist releasing a traditional full length album, that album will generally last about 2 years. Bands typically release a few singles off their album, go on tour for a year or so, and then get back into the studio to write and release a new album. This typically happens in 2 to 3 year cycles for an active band.

This means that in order to stay relevant to your fan base you must find other ways to connect with them in between albums. Usually touring is enough. But imagine for a moment if your band decided to put out 6 song EPs from now on. You could write, record, mix, and release your EP quicker than a full length album for reasons we just discussed. Then you could promote it, play shows, get the word out, connect with fans, etc. But in 9 months when you’re toying around with some new music you can get to work on another 6 song EP (again, less of a time commitment) and potentially release it just one year after your previous EP. Basically with an EP approach you could release new music in a collection every year if you wanted. How awesome would that be?

EPs Mean More Growth

I can speak for myself and my own band when I say that our musical tastes, ideas, and abilities change faster than every 2 years. We prefer to release an EP every year because it allows us to express our musical growth to the world more frequently. As an engineer it also allows me to improve and grow my skills faster as I’m technically making more recordings, more often.

Now, I’m not every opposed to full length albums, just excited about EPs. What about you? What are YOUR thoughts on the subject? Leave a comment!

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