EP or “extended play” is a form of music release that is longer than a single and shorter than an LP or “long play”, or a full-length album nowadays.

It’s a collection of 4 to 6 songs that are easier to publish than a traditional album, so many people call it a mini-album.

An EP is considered to be the smartest way for up-and-coming artists to present their work to the world if they are limited with a budget, but it is not a rare occurrence that an already famous artist releases an EP.

How long should an EP be?

“Extended Play” was the 7″ discs, the size of the single, but allowed the artists to put a few songs on them. Because of its characteristics, the EP could hold up to 4 songs and was usually used as a compilation of singles.

Nowadays, the term “EP” is used to describe a collection of music that isn’t as long as a full-length album.  There are no strict rules about how long the EP should be, but it’s considered that it shouldn’t be shorter than 4 and longer than 6 songs.

Many artists today are using popular streaming platforms to publish and distribute their music. If you count on that, you have to consider that those platforms have their own rules about classifications of music publications.

For example, if your release is less than 30 minutes long and is between 4 to 6 songs, Spotify will put it into the “EPs and Singles” tab on your artist page. If your publication is less than 30 minutes long and has 4 to 6 songs, Apple Music will classify it as EP and add an EP suffix to the publication.

Should you have 4 or 6 songs on an EP?

How many songs will be on the EP depends primarily on you. There are several things to consider when deciding on the number of songs:

–          What do you want to achieve by publishing an EP? If you want a record deal, then you should consider publishing more songs, so the record labels have more to hear about your work. This way you will show how diverse you are as an artist, and you will send them a message that you can be productive because that is something that many record labels are looking for.   

–          If you already have a recorded full-length album (or you have a strong plan to record it soon), then you should consider fewer songs on your EP. In that case, EP will serve you just as a promotion tool. You don’t want to have many tracks so you are giving away too much of your upcoming album, but also you want to give enough to your listeners so they can decide if they want to listen to the whole album later.

–          The number of songs on your EP also depends on the genre of music you play. If you are more into progressive rock styles, that means that your songs will probably be much longer (musicians sometimes say that music is not progressive if it’s not around 8 minutes, or more), and your 4 songs can last close to 30 minutes. If you are more about punk music, your songs will be much shorter, and 6 songs might not last even 20 minutes.

–          Another very important factor in deciding how many songs to put on an EP is inspiration and creativity. If you just want to release an EP with no plans to follow it up with an album, then you should put 4 or 6 songs on it, depending on how many you’ve written. If you have written only 4 songs and you don’t feel that you have anything more to say at that moment or you feel that you have already said enough with that many songs, then you should release an EP with 4 songs. Sometimes it’s important just to present your work to the world.

Benefits of EP publication

You need fewer financial resources to make an EP. Many musicians at the beginning of their careers just don’t have enough resources to make a full-length album.  EP is a perfect solution for that problem because it costs less than an album, and you will still publish some of your work.

You don’t have enough music material for the album. You recorded 4 or 6 songs, and you think that there are no more things you need to say about that. If this is the case with you, you should consider publishing an EP with that music.

It takes less time to record an EP than a full album. Sometimes recording a full-length album can take a few months or even a year. Many professional or starter musicians can’t afford that much time to work on one project.

Create a good introduction for the upcoming album. It’s not unusual to use an EP to hit things up for the upcoming album.

A full-length album isn’t always the best way to publish your music. Only 9% of people today favor albums in comparison to the other forms of music release. Also, you should take into consideration that the attention span of today’s people is significantly shorter than 40-50 years ago. Shorter forms of music publication are therefore gaining ground. This is especially important for musicians who are just trying to profile themselves and gain their audience.

EP vs. full-length album:

–          Takes fewer resources to make EP than a full album

–          You need less material to make a release

–          Making an EP takes less time, than making an album

–          Shorter forms of music are becoming more interesting to the listeners

How to release and promote your EP as a beginner?

The best advice about the release and promotion of your EP will be to give all you got. It doesn’t matter in which format you are publishing your music, you should pay attention to details, and be creative with the resources you have.

You should also devote your time to creating the right artwork for your release. If you don’t have the resources to do that, you should ask your talented friend for a favor or just try to be creative yourself. Your EP deserves the best you can do at that moment.

Set your release date and try to publish it on as many online channels as it is possible. Use all social media platforms so that you can throw a release party. You should know that the promotion of your music depends mostly on you and your creativity.

Wrap Up

EP is a form of music release that has no more than 30 minutes in length and has 4 to 6 songs. Because it is shorter than a traditional full-length album, sometimes we call it a mini-album.

It’s considered to be one of the best forms of music release for the up-and-coming artists that have to create their body of the audience. Sometimes it is used by artists who want to announce their full-length album.

As the attention span of music listeners is decreasing more and more, forms like EPs are becoming more popular and standing side by side with other forms of music releases.