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Artist ForumnavigationWhat is the Difference Between a Single, an EP, and an Album

What is the Difference Between a Single, an EP, and an Album

Music industry newcomers to the may not fully understand the nuances between singles, EPs, and albums. Read on to learn how these three common release types differ from one another, and the ways you can use them to reach different segments of your target audience.
The significant differences between these standard release types are:

  1. Track runtime
  2. Number of songs released simultaneously

Understanding these differences will help an artist decide how to best serve their target audiences and build a loyal following of diehard fans.
As an up-and-coming musician, using SoundOn gave me record-label-type tools and services that allowed me to distribute my unique sound to a global audience on social platforms like TikTok, Resso, and Instagram. I also gained valuable insights to effectively blast my tracks to fans on Spotify, Apple Music, and other popular streaming services.

3 Common Music Release Formats

    1. Singles: Single-release recordings comprised of one to three tracks are typically released for individual purchase and promotion of a particular song or artist.
    2. EPs (extended plays): Small collections of tracks that have a runtime between a shorter single and a longer full-length album. EPs typically contain between two to five tracks of a few hits, live performances, remixes, or other bonus recordings.
    3. Albums: Commercial releases typically spanning between six and 20 songs with minimum 30-minute runtimes. Album releases differ from singles and EPs because they are meant to be experienced in chronological order for full appreciation of the artist’s vision.

What is a Single?

Singles are standalone releases of one to three tracks. They typically include a hit song with a few additional tracks that can provide your audience with a promotional sample of your work.
With a short runtime, a single is ideal for promoting upcoming tours and album releases or test market engagement with a new sound, project, or genre.

What is an EP?

An EP (extended play) release contains between two to five songs, making it longer than a single release but shorter than a traditional album. EPs provide a flexible range of music, including new hits, old favorites, remixes, live recordings, and creative b-sides.
EPs are also an excellent strategy to entertain your fans between long-awaited album releases. Although albums once dominated music sales, recent reductions in attention spans and increasingly eclectic tastes have attracted contemporary listeners to shorter EPs and single releases on digital streaming services.

EP vs Album: What’s the Difference?

EPs and albums are often confused with one another due to their similar runtime, but while EPs typically top out at a maximum of eight songs, albums can offer upwards of 20 tracks in a single release.
Another key difference is the structure of the releases. For example, EPs offer a flexible format for artists and bands to provide their audience with different recordings, while artists craft albums in a specific order to create a cohesive artistic project.

Why Do Release Formats Matter?

The differences between release formats may seem superfluous to independent artists. As a novice musician, I used to think that my only job was to make music that echoed my soul, release it to the masses, and let the tunes reach the people who needed to hear it.
Learning the different release formats allowed me to maintain engagement with my fanbase between larger projects and stay relevant in an ever-evolving market. Using SoundOn’s TikTok pre-release functionality, I can even test the waters with my more experimental material to see if there’s any buzz before committing to a new project.