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What is an EP & Why Should I Care in 2024? (Producers & Artists) 

An EP (Extended Play) is way more than just a collection of songs.

 

It’s a snapshot of an artist’s journey, a chance to experiment, and a powerful tool in the ever-evolving music industry.

 

It can propel emerging artists into the spotlight, maintain the relevance of established names, and give listeners a taste of what’s to come.

 

However, if you’re scratching your head, wondering, “What is an EP?” or unsure of this format’s strategic significance in today’s digital era, you’re not alone.

 

It’s not just about the music 一 it’s about the strategy, the release, the marketing, and so much more. 

 

That’s why we’re breaking down everything you need to know about EPs so you can navigate the world of music like a professional.

 

In today’s article, we’ll be covering:

 

  • What is an EP? ✓
  • Why you should release an EP ✓
  • EPs vs other types of formats ✓
  • How to make your EP stand out ✓
  • Costs and revenues ✓
  • Streaming services & streaming platforms ✓
  • The benefits of EPs (for artists & producers) ✓
  • Quick releases vs. full albums ✓
  • The changing music landscape ✓
  • Much more ✓

 

With the insights from this article, you’ll understand the ins and outs of EPs and harness their power to elevate your musical presence.

 

By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to make informed decisions, strategize releases, and keep your finger on the pulse of the music industry.

 

NOTE: While we typically cater exclusively to our fellow music producers, this article is designed for both producers and artists.

 

So, let’s dive in…

 

Understanding the EP Format

 

Stepping into the dynamic world of music, one might wonder about the changing dynamics of how to release music.

 

With the digital era reshaping everything, let’s delve into the ever-evolving EP format and its significance.

 

  • What is an EP?

 

what is an EP?

 

EP (short for “Extended Play”) originated from the allure of vinyl records.

 

It stood out as a format with more content than a single but typically four or five tracks short of a full-length album.

 

In today’s digitized music industry, dominated by streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, an EP generally encompasses three to five songs.

 

It allows artists, especially emerging ones, to showcase their talent.

 

An EP offers listeners a taste of their unique style without the extensive commitment a studio album demands.

 

NOTE: It’s crucial to recognize that even though an EP is concise compared to a studio album, its impact can be massive.

 

Many artists have captured significant attention, even chart-topping success, through this compact format.

 

For emerging artists, it acts as a: 

 

  • Vital stepping stone
  • Chance to showcase new music 
  • Platform to express new sounds

 

While the length might differ, the intensity, passion, and often the production value of an EP can rival that of a full album.

 

This makes it a powerful tool for artists and producers to remain relevant, constantly putting out new tracks for their fans.

 

  • The Historical Evolution of the EP Format

 

Extended Play - Unison

 

The journey of the EP format traces back to the golden era of vinyl records.

 

It was crafted to give listeners something that could sustain longer than a single yet was more concise than a traditional album.

 

This created a unique niche in the music market, especially for unsigned artists.

 

However, with the advent of CDs in the 1980s and ’90s, the EP format saw a decline, overshadowing the more prominent full-length albums.

 

But, as music streaming services began their ascent in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the EP experienced a renaissance.

 

Today, genres like hip-hop and trap have wholeheartedly adopted the EP format.

 

Some of the most iconic releases in recent years have been EPs 一 indicating a shift in how artists, producers, and audiences perceive music releases.

 

A good majority of music enthusiasts saw the immense value in this format, like:

 

  • Emerging artists/unsigned artists
  • Indie bands
  • Established names

 

They recognize the potential to deliver new songs more frequently.

 

This kept fans engaged in a whole new way and remained relevant in an industry always on the lookout for “what’s next.”

 

Currently, EPs still stand strong as one of the top ways to get your new songs heard quickly and efficiently.

 

  • Difference Between EP, LP, and Other Formats

 

EP vs LP - Unison

 

Now, diving deeper into formats, how does an EP differ from others?…

 

An LP (Long Play) traditionally refers to what most consider a full-length album.

 

Typically, LPs consist of at least ten songs 一 offering a comprehensive view of an artist’s vision and a great way to release music.

 

On the other hand, a single typically highlights just one song, acting as a teaser for an upcoming album or standing alone as a separate release. 

 

An EP (Extended Play), on the other hand, provides listeners with more depth than a single but without the extensive narrative that an LP might offer.

 

There’s also the mini-album, a term occasionally used interchangeably with EP.

 

However, a mini-album often extends slightly longer, usually encompassing five to seven new tracks displaying your talent.

 

It serves as a bridge between the EP and the LP.

 

As the lines blur in the music industry, the definitions of these formats might evolve. 

 

However, for the moment, they each hold unique places, catering to different release strategies and audience expectations in the bustling world of music.

 

Before deciding if you should release an EP or go the distance with a full-blow album release, there are a few things to consider, which we’ll break down next.

 

Advantages of Releasing an EP

 

Navigating through the intricacies of the music world, one might question how to release an EP and why it’s a worthy release strategy.

 

Especially when it comes to an unsigned artist or digital music producer.

 

So, let’s explore why the EP format might be your golden ticket to getting your new songs the recognition they deserve.

 

  • Capturing New Listeners & Expanding Your Fan Base

 

EDM crowd - Unison

 

One undeniable strength of the EP format is its brevity.

 

With attention spans seemingly decreasing in the digital age, releasing an EP provides an opportunity to offer a snapshot of your sound.

 

This can help attract listeners searching for new music.

 

For an emerging artist or producer, an EP acts like a teaser trailer, giving potential fans a taste of what they can expect.

 

This way, it can showcase your versatility without overwhelming new listeners with too much content at once.

 

Consider all the released EP albums in hip-hop, R&B, and trap…

 

These genres are defined by rapid evolution and a plethora of new sounds.

 

An EP can serve as a quick introduction 一 ensuring listeners remain engaged and curious for more tracks from an artist.

 

NOTE: In the age of streaming platforms, it’s easier than ever to share music.

 

A catchy song from an EP can quickly go viral, attracting new listeners and potentially turning them into die-hard fans eager for the next music release.

 

  • Less Pressure & Quicker Releases Compared to Full-length Albums

 

Music Producer 1 - Unison

 

Full-length albums carry a significant weight.

 

The expectation of an album release from both fans and music industry professionals is immense, especially when you record albums that you talked up.

 

Plus, an album takes much longer to release due to sheer volume alone.

 

However, with an EP, the stakes feel different, as there’s room for more experimentation, and the turnaround time is generally quicker.

 

Emerging artists might find the idea of crafting an entire album daunting. 

 

With an album release, you have to bring into account the:

 

  • Production aspect
  • Financial considerations
  • Pressure of ensuring every song hits the mark

An EP, on the other hand, allows for a more digestible challenge, and it can help you with staying relevant and consistent.

 

Releasing music, especially new sounds, at a faster pace ensures an emerging artist remains in the limelight 一 grabbing attention with each new release.

 

The best part is the quicker release cycle of EPs means new artists and producers can respond more dynamically to trends.

 

This will ensure they’re always on the pulse of what listeners want.

 

In essence, while EPs offer flexibility and faster releases, a solo album can be a more comprehensive showcase of an artist’s musical journey and depth.

 

Just remember that an album’s worth and EP’s worth slightly differ, so make sure to weigh all the factors before you decide which one to partake in. 

 

  • Flexibility in Musical Experimentation

 

Music Promotion Services - Unison

 

When you release an EP, one of the standout benefits is the creative freedom it offers.

 

With fewer tracks, there’s an opportunity to experiment, step outside the comfort zone, and present new material that might not fit a traditional full-length album format.

 

Think of the EP as a musical playground where you can display your unique style and remain relevant.

 

It’s a space where new artists (or established artists) and producers can: 

 

 

For producers, this could mean integrating elements from popular trends and creating unique and refreshing tracks.

 

Furthermore, if an experimental track doesn’t resonate as hoped, it’s a learning experience rather than a significant setback.

 

An EP allows for these risks 一 making it an invaluable tool in any artist’s or producer’s arsenal.

 

The feedback from such musical experimentation can also guide future projects.

 

An unexpected hit from an EP might pave the way for a full album, solo album, or even influence the direction of an artist’s music career.

 

How to Strategize Your Upcoming EP Release

 

When you want to answer the question “What is an EP?” or release an EP of your own, it requires a mix of intuition and strategy.

 

With the rise of music streaming services and the ever-evolving landscape of the music industry, how do you make your EP stand out? 一 Let’s find out!

 

  • Choosing Your Best Tracks: Quality Over Quantity

 

Music Notes 1 - Unison

 

When considering “What is an EP?” and its role in a music career, remember: it’s about showcasing your best.

 

The limited number of songs means every track needs to be top-tier and captivating.

 

Therefore, no fillers are allowed, especially if it’s your release title.

 

Many artists and producers fall into the trap of thinking more music means better reach and a guaranteed positive outcome.

 

However, focusing on quality over sheer volume ensures that listeners get a refined experience 一 increasing the chances they’ll explore more tracks from your album catalog.

 

Recall some of the most prolific artists in hip-hop…

 

Their standout EP releases often contain songs that are still iconic today.

 

This is a testament to the power of prioritizing quality, even when dealing with fewer tracks and less time to finish.

 

For emerging artists looking to breakthrough, this is especially important.

 

The first impression counts, and a stellar EP can be a game-changer, setting the stage for a debut album (first album) or the next big single-song release.

 

  • Harnessing Music Streaming Services for Maximum Reach

 

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Once you have a newly released EP on your hands, the next step is promoting it.

 

In today’s digital age, platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and other streaming services dominate music consumption and can help you get your album out there.

 

For new artists and producers, mastering the art of these streaming platforms is paramount.

 

Especially for those of you planning to submit your music frequently.

 

When it comes to your future release strategy, you must:

 

  • Be proactive & consistent about playlist placements
  • Engage with your existing and new fans
  • Cross-promote your record albums on social media

 

Plus, understanding the analytics provided by music streaming services can seriously amplify the reach of your EP release or studio albums.

 

Remember, new listeners often discover new sounds through curated playlists.

 

If your EP tracks can find their way into popular playlists, you’ve just unlocked a gateway to a broader audience and potentially more fans.

 

Collaborating with other artists or influencers, participating in platform-specific campaigns, and staying updated with changes in the music streaming platforms can further elevate the reach of your EP.

 

Whether you have a record deal with Columbia Records (or other record labels) and have international acclaim or are releasing your very first EP, streaming services is the key to building your hype up.

 

  • Engaging With Fans & Keeping Up Momentum

 

Engaging with fans - Unison

 

Releasing an EP is just the beginning of your music release journey.

 

The real work starts with keeping the momentum going, ensuring existing fans and new listeners remain engaged.

 

Social media plays a pivotal role here, so make sure to:

 

 

These actions can help you create a strong bond with your new and existing fans and help your released EPs maintain traction.

 

Remember, in the music industry, interaction is key 一 fans want to feel connected and like they’re a part of your musical journey.

 

Regularly releasing music (like follow-up singles or teasing a forthcoming studio album) can keep the buzz alive.

 

Lastly, don’t forget to gather feedback after you deliver music, as it’s invaluable when you release EPs.

 

Constructive criticism can shape future music releases, guaranteeing you’re always aligned with what your fans crave and ensuring your album works long-term.

 

This continuous loop of interaction and evolution will ultimately define your music career’s success or failure.

 

The Financial Benefits and Considerations

 

While art and passion drive music, there’s no denying the industry’s financial component. After all, for many, music isn’t just a hobby 一 it’s our livelihood.

 

So, when venturing into the world of EPs, what financial factors should you consider?

 

  • Production Costs and Streaming Platform Revenues

 

Making Money 2 e1686798013149 - Unison

 

When you release EPs, I’m sure one of the first questions is, “How much will this music release cost me, and how much will I make?”

 

Well, diving into the world of EPs can be more pocket-friendly than releasing a full-length album.

 

The reduced number of songs means: 

 

 

However, it’s crucial to understand that while production costs may be lower, the revenue model on streaming platforms is primarily based on streams.

 

This means even if your EP has fewer songs than the albums released, they need to generate significant plays to ensure a reasonable ROI.

 

The music industry has witnessed a shift from traditional full-length album sales to streaming, that goes without saying.

 

NOTE: While platforms like Apple Music and Spotify offer artists exposure, you should know that their pay-per-stream is often a fraction of what artists earned from albums released (downloads) in the past.

 

To optimize revenue, consider diversifying across several music streaming services.

 

While Spotify and Apple Music dominate the market, don’t overlook other streaming services like Tidal or Deezer.

 

Each streaming platform has unique audiences and opportunities, so take advantage of as many different options as possible.

 

Revenue Potential From Apple Music, Spotify & Other Streaming Services

 

Music Production 2 1 e1687904396905 - Unison

 

In regards to streaming services, there are a few top dogs that stand out when it comes to promoting released EPs.

 

Apple Music, with its vast user base, can be a goldmine for artists.

 

Emerging artists have the chance to get featured in ‘New Artist Spotlight’ or genre-specific playlists (which can significantly boost streams).

 

Spotify, on the other hand, offers tools like “Spotify for Artists.”

 

This allows you to delve deep into: 

 

  • Analytics
  • Understanding your audience better
  • Pitching your music directly for playlist consideration

 

This direct engagement can be pivotal for a successful and flourishing EP release.

 

Beyond the big players, platforms like Bandcamp offer artists a more direct sales approach, allowing fans to purchase music.

 

This makes the smaller guys a beneficial avenue, especially for indie bands or unsigned artists looking for more personal fan engagement.

 

Remember, while streaming has become the primary mode of music consumption, there’s still a demographic that prefers purchasing music.

 

Whether it’s digital downloads or physical copies, they simply prefer it.

 

Catering to this niche audience can supplement streaming revenues 一 ensuring a balanced income source.

 

Bonus: The Shift from Music Downloads to Streaming

 

The days when fans rushed to stores for a new album release or eagerly awaited music downloads are shifting.

 

The convenience of streaming platforms (offering vast libraries of all genres) has reshaped the music industry landscape.

 

For many artists, this shift can feel overwhelming, especially regarding how a full album works for them financially nowadays.

 

The revenues from single song downloads often outweighed what one earns from a single stream.

 

However, the reach and exposure offered by platforms like Spotify or Apple Music can compensate for this disparity.

 

Plus, the continuous engagement that streaming platforms provide, with their daily mixes or radio features, means your songs can find a place in listeners’ daily lives.

 

This will help you maintain hype and popularity in the ever-fickle music industry, similar to some notable EP releases as of late.

 

Lastly, while streaming dominates, there’s still a place for traditional music releases.

 

Vinyl records have seen a resurgence, and a dedicated audience values the tangibility and nostalgia of physical music.

 

Knocking out tracks to such unique audiences can offer alternative revenue streams and diversify an artist’s offerings.

 

What is an EP? Final Thoughts

 

As we wrap up, the pivotal question “What is an EP?” becomes more than just something to ponder; it’s an invitation to explore a strategic avenue in the music industry.

 

An EP is not merely a shorter version of an album.

 

It’s a vibrant music release technique to showcase your versatility and tell a musical story that resonates.

 

Plus, most importantly, engage with your audience in a meaningful way so they tell everyone they know about your music.

 

Understanding “What is an EP?” truly is about recognizing the endless opportunities it opens up.

 

It’s a platform for you to tease new sounds, keep fans hooked, and even test the waters before diving into a full-length album.

 

If you’re focused on elevating your game further to achieve even more traction when you release your future EP, the free Famous Beatmaker Template Essentials are your golden ticket to the top.

 

Crafted with precision, these templates reflect the structures of top hits  acting as a guide to help your tracks hit the right notes.

 

Personalize them, add your flavor, and watch as they help transform your music into professionally sounding anthems.

 

By comprehending the depth of “What is an EP?” and coupling it with the right tools, you’re setting the stage for a musical takeover.

 

Until next time…

 

 

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