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artist advice

Eps vs LPs: Which Format Should You Choose for Your Next Release?

EP vs LP

Video killed the radio star; now, EPs are taking over from where LPs left off. The final nail is yet to hit the album format’s coffin, but it is official, as of 2016, EPs and singles are on the rise while the LP format is in decline.

For independent artists considering their next move in 2022 and beyond, it can be tricky to know how to push forward; there will never be one size fits all answer for every artist. However, by looking at the data and trends driven by digital streaming, independent artists have the best shot of success with their next release.

Don’t be fooled by the reports that vinyl record sales were rising in 2021; overall, there has been a continual annualised decline for the LP format. While some music fans continue to appreciate the art form of the LP, EPs are quickly becoming more advantageous for independent artists across the board.

In a global streaming study by Deezer, it was reported that 54% of the 8,000 people interviewed admitted to listening to fewer albums than they did 5 – 10 years ago. One of the main reasons behind this is fans prefer to listen to a mix of tracks from different artists – a mix of tracks that are often curated by mood. However, this varies greatly by genre. Pop, rock and RnB fans were the most likely to listen to an album in full, whereas dance and gospel fans were less likely to sit through an entire album.

Why are EPs becoming more popular than LPs?

  1. Cost

For artists operating on a shoestring budget, it is far more economically viable to release an EP instead of an LP. This is why, before the 21st-century decline of the album, EPs generally existed in the punk and indie domains.

An EP generally consists of 4 – 6 tracks, while an LP can contain 7 – 29.  Naturally, recording an EP is infinitely cheaper for artists paying for production costs, session musicians and studio time.

  1. The Decline of the Superfan

How music fans engage with music is undergoing a rapid transformation, which is mainly due to digital streaming influencing artist-fan relationships. Rather than trying to maintain your relationship with the dwindling numbers of superfans with albums, work on casting the net wider with shorter releases that are far more efficacious at attracting new listeners.

  1. The Power of the Playlist & Other Streaming Platform Services

Playlists on Spotify and other music streaming services are one of the best ways for music fans to discover new music. Getting onto a major or official Spotify playlist can introduce artists to thousands or even millions of new music fans. However, there is a downside. Music fans are also being conditioned to consume shorter collections of songs.

For artists pouring their energy into a longer-form album format, there is a greater chance of the featuring singles becoming digital clutter on a platform, while 1 or 2 singles get all the limelight.

  1. EPs Allow Artists to Be More Prolific with Their Releases

For independent artists hoping for a sustainable career, the Extended Play format allows them to maintain a regular schedule with their releases far more than the LP format does. It is hard to stay relevant and keep your fans engaged while you are locked away producing a 12 – 20 track album!

With that in mind, EPs can act as the stopgap between LPs; they can also test the water for a new evolution in sound. What is the point in producing an entire album that is going to go down like a lead balloon with your fans when you can test the water with a single or an EP?

  1. EPs Help Artists to Predict the Outcome of an LP Release

New independent artists financing their careers may be eager to release their debut album, but jumping the gun is a risky move, which may not pay off in the long run.

With a few single and EP releases under your belt, you will be in a better position to predict your LP sales. This Is especially important if you’re selling physical copies of your LP. Lastly, you won’t get a second shot at releasing your debut album; make it a reflection of your best work.

To sum up, albums will always have a place in the music industry, but for independent artists that are still growing their fanbases in 2022, the benefits of EPs outweigh the benefits of LPs. They’re cost-effective, and it is infinitely less likely that the tracks you have poured your heart and soul into will get discarded in the ether.

How Independent Artists Can Recession-Proof Their Music Careers

Independent Artists in a Recession

Remember when it was perfectly acceptable to post demands across your social media pages on music consumers to financially support independent artists? Yeah, it is a little hazy for me too.

With the economy biting low-income people across our capitalized stratosphere, the collective sense of fear has muddied the creative waters to the same extent as UK waterways that are now pumped with sewage. It feels as though we’re heading to a Dickensian dystopia, where relative financial comfort in the present does little to quell the fear of the future.

To conflate all of this, poverty and financial instability have a major impact on behaviour; it shifts focus almost solely on meeting immediate needs and navigating threats. So, it comes as little surprise that engagement in arts, culture and leisure diminishes with reduced financial stability. In 2021, a study conducted by the department of culture in the UK reported that poorer people felt alienated and excluded by the arts and in their day-to-day lives, art was increasingly irrelevant.

With the cost of living ever-increasing, naturally, there are far more people with reduced inclination to spend money on merch, records, gigs, and all the other expenses that come with them. And on the flip side, artists will be far less comfortable making those demands of their fans. There is a way to move forward, but success will be determined by an artist’s ability to adapt and overcome.

How to Recession-Proof Your Music Career 

The future might seem bleak when you turn on the news or scroll through social media. But remember, a recession doesn’t mean that every revenue stream will suffer a drought. There is always money SOMEWHERE; you just have to be savvier at finding it.

As tempting as it may be to let nihilism consume you and put your creative projects to one side, the power of choosing a glass half-full or half-empty perspective is still ultimately with you. If you take on the weight of the world every time you contemplate how to move forward in your career, you won’t get very far.

If you retain some perspective and refuse to be overwhelmed by the sum of human suffering, you are in a far better position to sustain your music career and add value to your listeners’ lives. If you were looking for permission to throw in the creative towel, you won’t find it here.

Instead, we will point you to some of the most viable income streams for independent artists during the recession, taking into consideration the attention recession, the ACTUAL recession, and how the global pandemic also left its imprint on the industry.

1. Make Peace with Spotify

An independent artist should never expect any given revenue stream to sustain them. It is easy to bemoan streaming royalties, but over time, they *can* add up, especially if you release your music across all platforms with the help of a distro company, such as Ditto, which allows you to keep 100% of your royalties.

At a fraction of the cost of traditional promotion and advertising, streaming platforms are also one of the best ways to allow new listeners to discover your music. Once a new fan has gotten a taste of your sound, there is no telling how much they will invest in you further down the line.

2. Get Over the Music Publishing Royalties Learning Curve 

Figuring out publishing royalties and how not to get shafted may not be the most exciting thing you can do in your music career, but it can be one of the most lucrative. Your compositions and recordings come with publishing rights; every time your music is used, you are entitled to compensation.

Whether that is when your music is played on the radio or physically reproduced, you should be compensated; registering with a music royalty collection agency is often the easiest way to do this. Once again, Ditto has saved the day with their music publishing service. They take a 10% cut, but that is a small price to pay when they also pitch your tracks to sync companies.

3. Be Inclusive with Your Merchandising

In a recession, limiting your costs is vital. But if you have a big enough fanbase to justify creating merch to supplement your other expenses, don’t rule this out as a revenue stream.

Not every fan will be able to spring for an expensive piece of merch or a vinyl record, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in supporting you by purchasing smaller-ticket items, such as enamel pins and patches. If you produce physical copies of your music, make your CDs or cassettes as aesthetically appealing as your vinyl records.

As music fans are now being more careful with their budgets and are limiting the number of live shows they go to, always give your fans an e-commerce option to buy your merch.

4. Get In Sync 

Cultural engagement is becoming increasingly more digital, so even if there is more tumbleweed in your local scene than music fans, that doesn’t mean you can’t cash in on the digital dollar.

Sync deals allow artists to earn money through their music being featured on different forms of visual media, such as TV, films, and video games. The flat fees can stretch up to £10k per placement; that is before you consider the continuous pay-outs for repeat usage.

5. Brand Sponsorships 

If you are good enough at what you do, there is no reason why brand sponsorships and partnerships should be out of the realm of possibility. Not every up-and-coming artist will get the chance to rep their favourite music brand, but those aren’t the only companies that would be interested in brand sponsorships with musicians.

If you can boost the visibility of a brand, which aligns with you as an artist, with your established online presence, there is always the potential for brand sponsorships. Reach out to independent brands with a proposition, and always be prepared to negotiate.


Amelia Vandergast