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What’s an EP? Definition, how to make one and best release tips

By Mary Woodcock on 16 Nov 2018

For independent artists with limited resources, recording a full LP can be costly and very time-consuming. That is why many artists, especially at the start of their career in the music industry, begin by recording EPs. So, the big question is: What is an EP?

An EP is a medium-length album that has a fewer number of songs than a studio album, usually 4 to 6 songs long.  This definition strays far away from its original one, so what does EP stand for in music? Back in the 20th Century, an EP, or Extended Play Record, referred to a type of vinyl record that was played at a different speed than the standard play records (SPs and LPs).

If you want to successfully record an EP and get it heard by the right people you will have to consider a few things…

Record Player Playing Vinyl

How Many Songs are on an EP?

EPs should ideally have between four and six tracks; however, this depends on your musical style and on the purpose of the EP. If your aim is to send it to record labels so that they can get a vibe for your style you probably want to have more, as you want to show you have a good variety of decent songs. On the other hand, if your aim is to give it away for promotion you should be more shorthanded. You don’t want to give too many tracks away as this is not an album. Your album will include more songs and will be the next level up in which people can buy into you.

You ideally want to create something that people will want to listen to a few times and make them want to go out and get a longer version. It shouldn’t be so short that they can’t get a feel of what you’re about; you want to show you can do more than just one or two good tracks, so don’t skimp on the value you deliver. It’s not so many tracks that you’re giving too much to the listener, but it’s also not so few that you’re not giving them what they expect.

What are the maximum and minimum track lengths?

Since an EP is supposed to be just a taster to your music you should always try to keep as concise as possible. Again, this varies quite a lot from genre to genre. Genres such as Progressive Rock tend to have lengthier songs, so you would be safe with 6 and 8 minute songs. But, for the most part, you want songs to be 2 and a half to 3 and a half minutes long. You want to showcase all the themes and maybe even the hook early on in the song to make it memorable.

Mixing Desk

Should You Add a Remix?

When trying to grab someone’s attention, it’s often a good idea to show the best side of yourself first. When it comes to creating an EP, things are no different. I mean, you can put on songs you think people will like, but how can you be sure that they will?

Well, one solution is to remix one of your most popular songs and put it as the first track of your EP. If you know people already like the lyrics of the song for example, why not use those same lyrics but put them over a different backing track? You can either use the exact same vocal file again or better yet, you could re-record the vocals to match that particular track. Alternatively, you can use a popular backing track of yours, and do all new vocals for it. However, remixing one of your songs may not be the best move depending on your style, so keep that in mind. To access re-mixers and producers, check our our global marketplace.

Diversify the Content – What is an Interlude in a song?

Interludes are small filler track, be it an instrumental section or a conversation between the band members, that can help the album flow well. It can be an incredible way to show a taster of your personality to the fans. You can use interludes very creatively depending on your style of music. For example, if you are a melodic and mellow artist you could have an A Capella section showcasing your vocals. Or if you’re a rapper you could have a quick freestyle or even a funny conversation with a friend of yours. While interludes are not essential, it can really work wonders for how people perceive your music. Make your music an experience!

Record Player/Vinyl Player with Vinyl and Vinyl Sleeve Cover Artwork

On Your EP Cover

Whether or not you press up a physical CD, you should always include a cover. On this cover, as well as your normal contact details, you should include a quick note asking people to do what you want done (Sign up to your list, share your CD etc). Artwork is super important to any release, if you don’t know a good designer, we can help you out through our platform, you can join and create a project to receive pitches from top notch designers matched to your budget and requirements, you can start here.

How To Release An EP Independently?

Make sure you have an EP release plan with a set release date. Nowadays, it is crucial to release your EP in as many online channels as you can afford, BandCamp, ReverbNation, SoundCloud etc. While doing all this, make sure as well that all your Metadata is perfect (you may fail to get paid any royalties if your name is misspelled for example!). Make sure you shout about it on social media You could throw a release party as well, releasing music is something to celebrate! Besides, everyone loves going to parties, and if your EP is the central reason for the event, it will get the attention of all the guests. Read more tips on how to promote your release here.

Live Music, Festival, Gig

Include Calls To Action

By calls to action, I mean trying to get people to do what it is you want them to do that gives them value. You’ve made an EP to fulfill some aim, whether that’s raise awareness of your music, or to make money and increase the brand loyalty of your fans. Whatever your aim is and whatever you want your listeners to do next, you have got to let them know! So say for example you’re going to be giving your EP out for free. You want to raise awareness of your music, and you want to get people signed up to your mailing list. So where should you include your calls to action?


So there you have it, four tips that will have your EP standing out from the crowd! I hope that if you’re in the process of making an EP you will take some of these tips on board. Anyone can make an EP using the standard methods, but by doing the above, you will get a lots more exposure and benefits from it.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, if you are looking to connect and collaborate with like-minded Music Gateway members globally and work together, join Music Gateway and access our marketplace. And now you have your music out there, it’s time to start sending it to important people in the industry, finding opportunities and getting it into film, tv and more.

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