Album Or EP? How To Decide What To Release Next

In a musical landscape dominated by singles and playlists, some bands might be tempted to forgo making albums and EPs altogether and just release single after single instead, but bands continue to release multiple songs together all at once because it’s the best way of making an impactful, sweeping artistic statement. But choosing whether to release a few songs together on an EP or devoting energy toward releasing a full-length album isn’t always a simple decision.

Define your goals

Lots of artists set out to release music without ever asking themselves what their goals are, and this makes making big decisions difficult. Having a good idea about what you hope to get out of releasing music can help you decide whether to put out an album or EP. For example, if you’re a completely new band interested in finding a label, devoting your efforts to putting out an EP of your best songs is probably a good idea. But if you’re an established band who hasn’t released music in years, going with a full-length album could be the best bet for you.

But sometimes even if you’ve defined your goals, knowing whether to go with an EP or album isn’t always so clear cut because there’s big benefits and drawbacks to both.

Albums vs EPs

EPs are great snapshots of the sort of music your band is making in the moment. And because they’re shorter than albums, they’re less expensive to make. But a snapshot can’t convey the grand, sprawling ideas that albums can. When fans think about their favorite artists, they usually think of the albums they make, not their EPs. It takes far more money, time, and emotional investment to create an album, but you’ll get way more mileage out of one than you could from an EP.

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Some bands are better off going with EPs because the shorter format gives them the freedom to release more songs in a short period of time. And because albums are typically cohesive in nature, EPs give artists the chance to make their songs sound any way they want. In short, albums require huge commitments that give big potential benefits, while EPs are more noncommittal, easier to release and able to give artists more opportunities to try new things.

So, what’s the best choice for you? That completely depends on you and your unique situation, but if you’re project has the tendency to overthink things and go years between releases, putting out a couple of EPs is a great way to capture the urgency of your creativity now by putting out just a few songs at a time rather than focusing on working on a big album. Our collective attention span seems to get shorter and shorter, and waiting too long to put out music can be detrimental to some bands. In light of this, the EP could become a much more popular way for bands to share music with their fans.

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  • Zakk Styles - December 14, 2017 reply

    Our plan is to release an EP each year with 5 or 6 songs on each album as to keep in the face of your fans. We believe that waiting to long (a year or two) making an album can lead to some fans forgetting about you. You have to stay current and out there. If you wanna check us out go here:

    James Carbonaro - December 29, 2017 reply

    Our marketing strategy at The More Balls Than Brains Band Sextet is simple. If it cost a dollar to download an individual song from iTunes, then we will price each of our 6 song EP’s at five dollars. And once we have 5 EP’s, we will offer our entire catalog of 30 songs for twenty dollars. So far however, we have still traveled less than 7% down that road.

  • Kasilo Choka DJ Elixir - December 16, 2017 reply

    Very good information… I appreciate the way you put things into perspective.

  • James Carbonaro - December 29, 2017 reply

    When considering the choice between a full album/CD & an EP one must always keep an eye on what originally constituted a full album. Now I know that I will come off sounding a bit dated; but back in the day, an album or LP (33.3 RPM) contained 20 minutes of material on each side for a total of 40 minutes. Singles (45 RPM) were limited to no more than 3.5 minutes on each side. A CD can hold upwards of 80 minutes of recorded music or narration. So in today’s terms, a full length CD is the equivalent of a double album. I purchased nearly 200 albums between the mid 1960’s & early ’80’s. The vast majority of them were single discs containing no more than 40 minutes of music total. Think about it. The Beatles only put out one double album. And I don’t think The Rolling Stones put out any. The Allman Brothers Band put out a pair of double albums. But the only 80 minute long double album The Who released was Tommy. There were triple albums of course, like YESSONGS & Woodstock. These, of course, were live albums, compiled from hours of concert tapes. Was Four Way Street (another live album) a double or a triple? Yet again, I date myself.

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