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Name: Adam Bernard
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The EP – An Indie Artist's Best Friend
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I go to a lot of shows and get handed a lot of albums. Most of them are CDs filled to their 79 minute capacity with songs by an artist who is looking to make his or her name known. I know what the feeling is when an artist creates an album like this, they want as much of their work as possible to be heard and they feel the more people hear the better a chance they’ll become fans. This is also why they usually price their extended LPs at a mere $5 an album. A better way to go about things would be for artists, especially ones who are still selling their albums hand to hand, to create an EP. Seven songs, no more than thirty minutes in length. Here are some of the reasons why an EP is a much better way to start your career than a 79 minute album.

A $5 LP hurts your future earning ability

Sure, it seems like a great idea now, putting a cheap price tag on your work to get it out to people, but if you’re pricing your full length albums at $5 now making the jump to $10 in the future is going to be tough. Your fans will already be used to the $5 price tag for your work and the 100% increase for either the same, or possibly even less, music won’t seem fair to many of them no matter how much you feel you may have gotten better as an artist. If you have a $5 price tag on your EP you’re making the same amount of money and creating a value associated with your work that will make a future $10 price tag on a full length album seem reasonable.

An EP will garner more repeat listens

There are only so many times a person can sit through a 79 minute album. It takes a real effort to do so. An EP, however, can be listened to in a trip to a friend’s house and back. The repeated plays, much like the repeated radio airplay mainstream artists receive, will make the listener like the songs more and more and eventually they’ll even know the lyrics. Through repeated plays you’ll also find listeners developing favorite songs and the next time you have a show you’ll see a lot more fans singing/rapping along with you, which will make any kind of call and response authentic rather than forced. Seeing this, the new fans at the show who aren’t familiar with your work will be more inspired to pick up the EP for themselves.

An EP lessens the risk of boring a listener

I know, I know, you’re the shit. You’re the greatest artist of all time. That being said, how many people can you name that you’d like to hear talking for over an hour? The number is probably small. I understand you want to be one of those people everyone wants to hear from for that long, but you have start slow. There’s a reason newer artists don’t get hour long sets at shows. Those time slots are reserved for veterans who have established they can keep a crowd entertained for that long. If you’re only rocking 15 minute sets a 79 minute album will feel like a lot of filler to the concertgoer who just wants to pick up an audio reminder of the show they just saw. Start by giving potential fans exactly what they want, even if it may be a little less than what you want them to have.

You’ll save songs for future projects

So you have a bazillion songs, there’s no need to give them to everyone all at once. For starters, they’re probably not all bangers. As the months and years pass and you get better and better as an artist you’ll probably be glad some of those older songs never saw the light of day. Of course, there will be a few you’ll still like, maybe even more than a few. The good news, there are a number of ways you can get that music out there. You can include the songs in a future project, or use them on your website as free downloads to both keep your current fans happy and attract potential new listeners. There’s no real downside to this unless the music is topical and the subject matter runs the risk of getting stale.

Well, that’s my two cents on the advantages of the EP. If you have any thoughts or comments, especially if you’re an artist who has gone the EP route, please feel free to share. I’d love to hear your opinions on the topic.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:50 AM  
  • At 8:23 AM, Blogger Hex said…

    Any concert I go to ends with a stack of homemade CD's in my hand, and I'm not a guy with a radio show or connections to industry magazines, etc. And I notice the same thing -- It's almost like now with quality recording and composing tools being widely available, the one thing you wish people could download was an editor for their ideas, or a producer to help focus their directions and limit their scope when it comes to getting your name out with a demo or an EP.

    Great work as always!

  • At 7:25 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Thanks for the props.

    It's good to know I'm not the only one who can't get through all those CDs!

  • At 12:00 AM, Blogger Thirtyseven said…

    Do you feel like we've hit the maximum over-saturation point? Is it even mathematically possible to have more free EPs released in 2008?

    Speaking as someone who's got two of them, just getting people to listen is frankly baffling...and I'm supposed to know this stuff.

    This was a pretty excellent read, though, I'll probably be quoting this on Audible Hype soon.

  • At 1:34 AM, Blogger Crew54 said…

    Man I swear Adam, I never know if we are on the right track till I read your blog and see we are doing the right things. I convinced G-Christ to do a solo EP and I just finished putting it together last tonight. 7 Tracks, 25 Minutes long. Keep speaking the truth to the youth man...

    m o s

  • At 11:15 AM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Thanks Thirtyseven and mos.

    And Thirtyseven... if I ever figure out the magic formula to get people to listen I'll let everyone know.

  • At 10:45 PM, Blogger Red said…

    What about maxi-singles? Do they apply to the EP alternative? Japanese music is like this - they either sell CD-maxi singles or EPs way before an album is out. In fact, the American system works way different than Japan. U.S. artists need a hit single or buzz single to prove to industries your album has merit. J-Pop, J-Rock, J-Urban, etc. are, lack of a better word, flexible.

  • At 5:53 AM, Blogger Rob said…

    I think EP's can be any artist's best friend, regardless of whether they are indie or major.

    Why everyone feels the need to max out the playing time on a CD is beyond me.

    19-track DEBUT albums are absolutely ridiculous.

  • At 3:02 PM, Blogger M said…

    I ended up here from prohiphop.com & boy am I glad that I made the pitstop. I recently released an EP on a new indie label called Still Starvin Entertainment and I am SO glad that I did. Saved songs & time, and more importantly I kept m y fans attention, so they want more. It's good to know that I am on the right track.

    Great blog.

    ~ M Y ~

  • At 3:48 PM, Blogger Adam Bernard said…

    Red - Yes, I consider maxi-singles a reasonable equivalent to an EP. I still have my Busta Rhymes "Whoo Hah" maxi-single. It was the ONLY way to get the remix w/ ODB.

    Rob and M - Thanks for the props!

  • At 10:18 AM, Blogger Douglas said…

    As an artist who has released a successful EP, I would say that your points are spot on. However, I don't understand the mentality of why listeners don't want a full-length album. One of my group's albums was 22 songs, and reviews it received, while mostly positive, often included a comment about the album being "too long". But no one is asking you to listen to the whole thing. If you get tired of it, turn it off. If you like it, keep listening. Why is the fact that it's long take away from the experience? You are in control....

    Des, The Killaz

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