The music world is full of fascinating language and jargon that can sometimes get confusing. One pervasive question is: what is an EP in music? An EP is often misunderstood and sometimes gets passed off as an album, but the two are inherently different. EP stands for “extended play”, which can sometimes make this understanding even more convoluted.
Despite its name, an EP is relatively short. The most apparent difference between the two is their length. In general, an album is longer than an EP. There’s no standard length that a body of music has to meet to become a full-length album, but it’ll consist of 10-15 tracks on average. On the other hand, an EP might contain only 2-3 tracks, although it can be longer.
Platforms like Apple Music and Spotify have their own specific guidelines as to what constitutes an EP. The biggest discrepancy between the two streaming powerhouses is that Spotify defines an EP as having 4-6 tracks while Apple Music requires 1-3 tracks.
What is an EP in music?
An extended play, or an EP, typically includes more music than a single. Sometimes artists decide to compile an EP as more of an experimental move. It’s a way musicians can share mini projects and ideas they’ve been working on without committing to creating a full-length album. Since EPs are smaller, they can be shared more often and even fill the void between albums.
From an artist’s perspective, an EP is a great cost-effective way to keep fans interested and give one’s brand momentum. There’s often less pressure associated with dropping an EP as opposed to an album, as albums are considered make-it-or-break-it moments in a musician’s career.
What is an album?
You probably started hearing about albums much earlier in your life than you did EPs. “Album” is sometimes used as a blanket term, but it’s usually longer than an EP and more sophisticated—for lack of a better word.
Think of an album like a carefully crafted piece of artwork. All music is art, but there’s a particular expectation for the design put into the structure of an album. There’s an emphasis on thoughtful construction in every aspect, from the order of the songs to the name of the collection. Not too long ago, albums were sold as vinyl or CDs. Today, albums are available to either stream or download.
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