Releasing Music Singles Vs Eps Vs Albums

A Complete Guide to Releasing Music: Singles vs EPs vs Albums

Whether or not you’re an artist, terms like “single”, “EP”, and “album” probably sound familiar. But what do they really mean? By the end of this guide, you'll understand the differences between singles, EPs, and albums, and discover the best release strategies for each.

Amuse, Amuse

What's the difference between a single, an EP, and an album?

The main differences between a single, an EP, and an album come down to the number of tracks and the total duration. Typically, this is how the stores categorize releases:

  • a single is a release containing one to three tracks, unless one of the tracks is over 10 minutes long

  • an EP is a release containing four to six tracks, unless the total runtime is over 30 minutes

  • an album is seven or more tracks, or the total runtime of over 30 minutes

But the rules differ a bit on Spotify:

  • a single or an EP is under 30 minutes, and the release has 5 or fewer tracks

  • an album is 6 tracks or more

Should I release a single, an album, or an EP?

As an artist, you’ve probably asked yourself at some point, “Should I release a single, an EP, or an album?” The answer depends on a variety of things, including: your budget, target audience, and music goals. Usually budgets are the biggest factor.

Because EPs have half the songs that an album would have, they generally cost less and take less time to produce than albums. Many DIY independent artists maximize their home setups to cut down on costs, handling everything from mixing to mastering themselves.

Remember to factor in other expenses like visuals, promo, merch, and PR. But in the end, how you manage your budget depends on your preferences and available resources.

What are the benefits of releasing a single over an EP?

Choosing to release a single before an EP is an effective way to keep your audience engaged, and an even better way to tweak and refine your release and promotion strategy. The more singles you put out, the more you get a feel for your audience and can adjust your strategy accordingly.

Make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time to promote your single. Some things to keep in mind are: making sure you have HQ visuals, copy for your socials, copy for pitching to playlists and music outlets, and some BTS visuals or audio snippets to share. The goal is to get and keep as many eyes on your project as possible.

If you end up getting a lot of love for your singles, you can put all of your singles onto one EP to get even more exposure and gain new listeners.

The best single release strategies

Releasing singles can keep your audience engaged and help you refine your release and promotion strategies. Each single release provides insights into your audience's preferences, allowing you to tweak your approach.

Here are some release strategy tips to make sure you have set in place for your single release:

  • Choose the right distributor

  • Single artwork

  • Create a pre-save campaign

  • Write a music press release

  • Submit to playlists

  • Promote on social media

  • Update your EPK

EPK checklist amuseAmuse's EPK checklist

What are the benefits of releasing an EP over an album?

EPs offer artists a chance to experiment with different genres and sounds without the commitment of a full album. They cost less and take less time to produce, giving you more opportunities to release more and different types of music. You can explore different themes, experiment with new sounds, and take creative risks without the pressure of a full album. This can be incredibly liberating as a DIY artist, allowing you to push boundaries and grow as an artist.

Releasing an EP is a really great way to test the waters. You’ll be saving money that you can put towards other music projects, and you'll also get insights on how your listeners react to your music before fully investing in an album. It's a smart strategy for gauging interest, refining your style, and building anticipation.

EPs can also act as a bridge between larger projects. They keep your audience engaged, maintain momentum, and keep your name in the conversation. This consistent output helps in building a loyal fanbase and keeps your musical journey dynamic and ever evolving.

The best EP release strategies

In a crowded music landscape, standing out is crucial. EPs can serve as a powerful tool for distinguishing yourself, showcasing your versatility, and keeping your audience wanting more. Whether you're introducing a new sound, testing a different musical direction, or simply trying to maintain your presence in the industry, releasing EPs serve as a versatile and effective part of your release strategy.

Here are some release strategy tips to make sure you have set in place for your EP release:

  • Release singles

  • Build hype

  • Create visual content

  • Plan for post-release promo

Yot Club's cover for his EP "Bipolar"

What are the benefits of releasing an album?

One of the major selling points for creating an album is having the ability to portray a story for your audience to follow. 

With singles and EPs, artists have the opportunity to release their projects quickly to keep their audience engaged. But with albums, it really lets you zero in and take time to perfect your craft. 

Albums allow for a deeper dive into a specific set of melodies, feelings, and artistic sentiments. There are a lot of listeners who crave a more profound connection to a musician's work, and an album is where the creations come to life.

Albums can be a deterrent because of how costly and time-consuming it is. But on the other hand, it’s a great opportunity to build a robust marketing campaign and to build hype, creating long-lasting hype around your music and you as an artist. 

The best album release strategies

Albums allow for a deep dive into your artistic vision, providing a cohesive narrative or thematic journey for your audience. They let you showcase a broader range of your musical abilities and connect more profoundly with listeners who crave that deeper engagement.

Here are some release strategy tips to make sure you have set in place for your album release:

  • Set up a pre-save

  • Set up smart links

  • Pitch to radio

  • Make merch

  • Release singles to build awareness

  • Record bits of your recording sessions for content

Whether you choose to release singles, EPs, or albums, each format offers unique benefits. Tailor your release strategy to your goals, budget, and audience to make the most of your music career.

Happy releasing!