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.
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.