The Rise of the EP

When is the last time you bought an actual CD? Or even an entire album from iTunes? It's interesting to note that these days, it's far more common for people to just pick and choose the songs they like from the 30 second previews or just buy their favorite new single on the radio instead of going for the entire package. This is yet another example of how iTunes and digital media have changed how the music industry operates. Instead of taking years to put together new material in the form of a complete album, artists have turned more to the EP format to get new material out there faster. EP's, or Extended Play albums, usually have four to eight new songs - just enough to be more than a single, but not enough to be a full album.

This switch can be attributed to two things: the freedom that comes with iTunes' option to buy songs individually as well as full albums, and our generation's growing lack of attention span. It is rare at a college campus gathering to hear one song in its entirety, let alone an entire album. Also, we're impatient. We can't wait for our favorite artists to come out with new material, and they have recognized that.

This change is not necessarily good or bad. In fact, it seems to have more pros than cons for everyone involved, both the fans and the artists. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins said he was never comfortable with the album format because it felt forced. "It was obviously an economic decision made by others and not an artistic decision made by creators." He also points out, "It can be draining to record 15 songs over a six-month period." And as the same article article accurately points out, "Who cares, I'm only going to put a few songs on my iPod anyway."



Anonymous said...

I agree w/ Billy. As a musician myself it's nice to work on a lot of smaller projects. It's easier to stick to a theme.

K said...

EPs are cool, but I'm still a HUGE fan of complete full lengths. If a band/artist can create a masterpiece of 18 songs it is so much more impressive than a bunch of EPs. Sooo much more.

Tooth said...

Brother Ali has a good balance w/ utilizing EPs and LPs. In between each of his full length albums he'll release an EP to tide over his fans (The Champion EP & The Truth is Here EP). The EPs have a different vibe than his LPs, but he doesn't compromise the quality of his music w/ each different type of project.