The Rise of the EP

Over the past 5-6 years, I have noticed a huge rise in the release of Extended Plays (EPs). I wonder why this has come about. Is it a promotional tool, a monetary grab, or a lack of creativity?

An extended play is a recording that comes up just a little shy of a full length record (LP). In today’s music business, digital releases have become the trend, nearly replacing the standard hard copies we’ve collected for years. Instead of record stores or F.Y.E.’S we have iTunes and Amazon. So with these changes, I begin to wonder if the changes in the industry are for the better or worse.

Lately, many artists have been releasing an increasing abundance of extended plays. It seems EPs are more common than LPs as of late. I have a few theories as to why they have become so prevalent.

My theories are as such:
First and foremost, A band or label will use the EP to garner attention or increase income.

In the music world today, staying relevant is vital to having a long career in the industry. Lady Gaga does it by wearing strange outfits, D.R.U.G.S. conjures up scandalous stories as marketing ploys, and a universal method is the extended play.

In a label marketing director’s eye, an EP should sell much like an LP. Although it is shorter in length, a fan of a particular band will naturally want every release the group has put out. Whether the material is new or not, the fan wants that piece of the band’s history. Some will say the EPs will become less common and are good financial investments. Some will buy the EP on iTunes without looking at the tracklisting, just because it says their favorite band’s name on the cover art. Marketers know this! They know what fans are willing to buy, so why not put it out? Financially, the EP is a jackpot for a quick boost in sales.

Minimal effort from the band/label + a large number of sales from interested fans = $$$

With that in mind, we are reminded of what the music industry is becoming, more about the money than the music. That isn’t to say there aren’t artists doing it because they love to. There are certainly bands who would rather pay for an extra half tank of gas to play another show than eat dinner that night. However, mainstream musicians seem to take for granted the business they have called their career.

The second reason I believe the EP is so popular is the general lack of creativity in artists.

Could it be that bands of today are just losing the inspiration the had when producing the full length albums that line our cd cases? Perhaps musicians are losing sight of what music is about. They may be too worried about the financial difficulties or the hardships of touring. All of the problems that plague the artist could be stifling their drive to produce an abundance of quality material. I think the EP is the result of coming up short.

An example of this would be Hey Monday’s Beneath it All EP. Originally set to be the bands sophomore full length album, Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen decided to remove a few songs that they felt didn’t make the cut. So, last minute, they produced the cut album as the EP fans bought in stores. This was a result of poorly written/produced material that wasn’t good enough to be released.

I hate to use Hey Monday as a further example, however, recently they have released the Candles EP. This EP was a mere 3 tracks in length (around 9 minutes) the EP contained a new version of “Candles” as well as an old demo. These two tracks are just different recordings of an old single. A new track was also featured on the EP (a Beneath it All reject I expect).

These two EPs are obvious examples of both of my points. They were released as a result of creativity and to garner some cash to make up for the poorly assembled LP.

These theories can apply to most artists. The EP, while still providing us with new music, can be aggravating to the listener who wants to listen to the artist for near an hour, not 5-10 minutes.

I’m not telling you to stop buying EPs. By all means, support the artists you love. I just would like the reader of this article to think about the EP a bit longer than one would last played through.

About curbsideaudio

Jacob is the Digital Content Editor of Substream Magazine Founder, Bottle Cap Media Alumn, Under the Gun Review. View all posts by curbsideaudio

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