Music Marketing: What Is an EP?

How to Get Started Creating Your Own Extended Play Record

Young man singing
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EP stands for "extended play record" or simply "extended play." An EP is a compilation of songs often created for promotional use and covers the middle ground between a single and a full-length album. EPs are usually around 4 to 6 songs in length and are generally made using original tracks never released before by an artist.

What Is an EP Used For?

Musicians release EPs for many reasons, but they are most frequently used as promotional tools.

EPs are used to introduce new bands, to keep interest in an artist alive between full-length releases, to help promote a tour, as giveaways and incentives for joining mailing lists or buying concert tickets, and more.

Some of the other reasons artists create EPs include:

  • EPs can be a solution for artists who want to release something more than a single but can't afford the studio time to record a full-length album.
  • EPs can fit enough music to be a more complete project than a single but are still short enough to require less studio time than a 10-to-12 song full-length album.
  • Some musicians use EPs to experiment with new music styles or dabble in less commercial sounds than their full-length albums feature.
  • EPs are also sometimes used to release B-sides and unreleased tracks that were originally cut from the full-length album.

How to Get Started Creating Your Own Extended Play Record

You may now be wondering what it takes to create your own EP.

Whether you are looking to give away an EP for free or to simply sell one, you should consider the following questions before you begin the process of creating your own EP:

  • Why are you creating an EP? (ex. as a promotional tool, to sell, as a thank you, etc.)
  • Who are you creating the EP for? (Consider who will be hearing your music and what age, city, etc.)
  • What style and tone of music would you like to feature?
  • Will the songs be all new or a mix of some of your previous work with some new tracks?
  • Where will you be recording your EP?
  • How will you be distributing your EP?
  • What will you ask for in return for the EP? (ex. sign up for a newsletter, tweet this, etc.)

Once you have been able to put some pen to paper and answer all of the above questions, you can then start by:

Choosing the right 4 to 6 tracks. Though it is fine if you use tracks that you have previously recorded, consider compiling all unreleased songs in order to create an enticing new product.

Choosing a style. Aside from choosing the genre of music, you would like to feature, consider varying your tracks to showcase your wide range of talent. For example, your first two tracks can be more mellow, while the last 2 tracks can be upbeat and exciting.

Structuring your EP record. In addition to choosing the right style of songs, you may also want to have an introduction and an outro to flank your songs. Artistic direction or song-flow will require that you consider the structure of the overall record when you are creating your own EP to avoid a disjointed series of songs in one EP.

Creating quality work. Be sure to use a good quality recording studio when recording your EP, as there is nothing worse than finding that the EP sounds like it has been thrown together at the very last minute.

Your EP is your portfolio, make sure it reflects your best work.