Why EPs Are Still Important
EPs have existed for a long time as a great way for artists to test the waters before dropping a full length album. Here we look at the benefits of having an EP, how to use it, and the history behind the format.
Guest post by Ellie Batchiyska of IndieOnTheMove
Guest post written by Ellie Batchiyska, a writer for SoundStageDirect, the number one online source for the best vinyl records and turntables.
"As an aspiring artist, you probably understand the significance of self-promotion. Creating a following involves allowing the world to familiarize itself with you and your music as a joint entity. So, in attempts to do this, you’ve created your Facebook page, released your first single, and perhaps even created a video to go with it. The final step in your self-promotion efforts, however, should be none other than creating an EP. For those new to the industry terminology, an EP refers to an “extended play record”, a compilation of 4-6 original songs from an artist that is typically released prior to a full-length album. Having an EP is great for giving people a taste of your musical sound and style. Think of it as your curriculum vitae, a summary of your most impressive and promising work.
Benefits of an EP
EPs are an especially great solution for rising musicians on a budget. After all, recording a professional sounding EP requires high-caliber equipment often only found at studios. Therefore, if you need to book a studio to get this done, at least this way you pay for less studio time than a full-length album. In addition to this, EPs allow you to test out new music styles or sounds. So, if you’re really looking to test out your idea of hybrid classical and jazz fusion music but aren’t sure if it’ll fly, this is the best way to do it.
The limited length of EPs also give you a great opportunity to really assess your overall quality of work. Since they serve as an insight to potential singles also, they allow you to begin cherry-picking which songs best represent your vision and sound as an artist. And, if you’re worried that your classical/jazz fusion hybrid doesn’t sound the way you want it to, use the EP as a way to gain constructive feedback about your sound. Whether you send it to friends, studio heads, or just post in on social media, it’s an excellent way of determining whether you’re headed in the right direction.
Using your EP
Okay, so, you’ve recorded your EP and you like the way it sounds. Now, what is it good for? As we mentioned, EPs are promotional material at their core, but there are more specific uses for your now-finished product:
- Advertising a tour. Maybe you plan on playing some live shows soon. If you’re trying to entice newcomers to your show, handing people a free copy of your EP is a great way to get them hooked on your sound.
- Pitching to publishers. Think of your EP as a pre-recorded audition tape. You may even want to send a few out to record labels. Who knows, it might just get picked up!
- Gratitude. Handing out your EP or selling it at a low cost to fans who attend a live show can be a nice way to say “thank you for your support.” This also keeps your music in their mind, and serves as an incentive for them to attend future shows.
The Evolution of EPs
Music’s ever-changing format has also changed the way we define EPs. Extended play records, in conjunction with long-playing records (LPs), were originally used to describe vinyl records. LP’s typically referred to full albums, while EPs referred more to extensions of singles. They typically consisted of bonus material, such as remixes or demos of the single, but did not necessarily contain much varying content. While vinyl records have recently risen to popularity once again, streaming is music’s main contemporary format. With this change in format, the meaning of EPs is also changing.
Nowadays, artists are more likely to use EPs to release material between albums. Where EPs previously served as an intro tool whose material was later featured on the artist’s full-length album, modern-day EPs actually often serve to introduce entirely new content. They are also used for songs that didn’t make the cut on the full-length album, serving almost as a B-side.
Now that you’re all filled in on the nature of EPs, remember that your EP doesn’t need to be a bestseller. It’s just your introduction to the world. Share it on social media, pass it along to friends, or even take a chance and mail it to Capitol Records. Self-made musicians are the majority, and even the best started somewhere."