Do you know the difference between a single, EP, and an LP?
Well, in the music world, all these abbreviations have different meanings.
I suspect that you are someone who is interested in music and if so, you want to unlock the same terminology that other artists are already using.
Hopefully, this article will help you in answering that question easily.
Before I hit on each definition, you should know that each label and artist follow “certain guidelines” that define when a recording is called a single, EP, or LP.
Every musical recording has its own time length and style. And labeling each release properly helps in categorizing the releases for public use.
Nevertheless, I am going to help you differentiate between these abbreviations and words to figure out what each recording stands for.
Let’s begin with the definition of a single and what a single is.
The wordy definition of a single could be- the minimal time of a song tracklist that an artist decides to promote their career in music.
A single is a 1-3 song track list under 10 minutes in length.
While, this holds true, the definition of a single can go even deeper. A single can be part of your album or it can be sold or downloaded as a separate copy. Cardi B uses a lot of singles to keep going and keep her fans interested in her promotional value and her popularity.
Record companies have changed due to a digital increase in music streaming over the last years.
Physical copies aren’t the source of play for most people anymore.
Of course there will always be people who prefer buying the physical LP or the physical copy of a single, but those times have been outdated.
But the choice and freedom of buying your own record player are still available, and that is great!
Back in the day, singles were on 7 inch vinyls that were doubled sided, a big difference in what we consider a single today.
A single today would be something that is placed online for streaming, download, or sell. Usually the platforms to consume music are Spotify, Google Play, Tidal, Apple, Soundcloud, and many more!
Now you know what a single is and how it relates to an artist and its fans.
An EP is also known as an Extended Player.
An extended player is a track list consisting of 4-6 tracks with a run time of less than 30 minutes, beginning at the 10-minute mark.
EP’s are useful for one’s that want to make something longer than a single, but shorter than an album. Something that is expressive enough to get idea’s across without going as far as saying you have an album. But showcase your talents as an artist.
In my experience, the distribution of the extending player is common amongst local artist who need expedited fans that will flock to their music.
You can give out your EP for free or not.
Here’s what having an EP could mean for you: You can send an EP to your fans through email, you can use it for promotional packages like going on tour, you can use an EP for profit.
Use the term EP if you plan on having a live show to promote your music.
Musicians will most likely not throw an album release party, and I am being complete honest, they are a bit underwhelming and if you do something like that for the public. People tend to appreciate and enjoy something with the name “EP party” in the live show flyer.
An LP is any number of tracks, but must last over 30 minutes to be considered an LP. And people say that it begins at the 6 track mark.
Before I move on, an LP poses a valid question in the realm of metadata.
I have a quote and video that mentions the point below.
Here’s the quote:
“There’s this thing called, “reference the digital or physical product”, and you can say “EP” because it’s a commonly used phrase, that does not refer to a digital or physical product but you cannot say LP because it’s still considered a record.”.
If you think about it, the term LP in metadata terms, it totally makes sense.
But in real life, I interchange the word LP and album synonymously.
Back on the topic of the artist, I don’t typically recommend making an album unless you are a seasoned artist with a loyal fan base. But that’s just my personal preference, I usually just create singles that lead up to an EP for a future release. That also ties into the fact it takes more time, content, and resources to create an album with the intent to sell.
But unless you are confident enough in your ability to make music or if you are a massively creative person then it may come easier for you to make an LP.
In conclusion, you should know enough now to go out and recognize the difference between what the music industry calls a single, EP, and an LP!
Remember that there are thousands of record labels out there for artists to use, but all of them will always recognize how to label each piece of music an artist decided to put out there for their fans.
If you would like, you can submit your single to our playlist here.
This article was written by Nicholas Bay at Cr3at3 Cultur3 and Indiy. Check out his website and other works here.
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Nicholas Bay is a musician, content writer, producer, and coffee drinker. He is the Co-Founder of Cr3at3 Cultur3 Productions, a non-profit for local artists and musicians. His apprenticeship with Indiy started in April 2020 and conjoins with their mission to demystify the music industry to start your career in music. He works out of Los Angeles and remotely for artist that need exposure and support for their products. If you would like to network, Get in Touch!