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Which Do You Prefer? EP or LP or Singles?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Which Do You Prefer? EP or LP or Singles?

Let's face it; music just isn't the same as it was 20, 30, even just 10 years ago. Thanks to the digital age (err... mp3s and such, not the band), not only can we carry our music collection around in our pockets (which previously would have not only looked ridiculous -- be it CDs, vinyl, tapes, 8-tracks, etc -- but it's actually physically impossible), but we can easily go to any digital retailer (like iTunes or AmazonMP3) and literally shop for songs like you would hunt-and-peck for eats at a buffet. 

"I'll take a song or two from Skillet, maybe a single from RED, how about most of the songs off this Lecrae record, and this new Switchfoot single."

To do that before, you... would have had to buy each album entirely.

I remember buying a CD--which shall remain anonymous--years ago because of a music video I saw for a song off that album. It was a weird video but the song was quite catchy. The rest of the album though? Nothing like that single! The rest of the album was quite bizarre and eccentric (kind of like the music video itself was, but not the song in the video). In today's music world, I could have just purchased that song alone and thus saved myself money to buy other songs or a full album from another artist.

But let me ask you this -- How many times have you purchased a full album -- be it a CD, vinyl or mp3s -- because of one song and you discover "Oh my goodness! I love the whole album!!" IMAGINE if you had only bought that one song by itself and never heard those other songs?

So with people buying songs a la carte a lot these days, the music industry has had to rethink the album model. Labels want artists who can fill an album full of singles. This alone raises another question though - how many times have one of your favorite songs been one of those kinds of songs that would NEVER be played on radio as a single? Kind of scary, huh? That'd be like Jars of Clay's self-titled debut album not having a song like "Worlds Apart" on it. You can assume that pretty much your favorite ballad (or really hard song...or lyrically deep song) on any given album from a band who otherwise gets airplay would not exist.

And so, many bands and labels are looking at releasing more singles and EPs. EPs are those little 4-song (or sometimes a few songs more) samplers that, at one time, would usually accompany a full-length album. However, they've kind of just become appetizers and cheap ways to release less music it seems. [Some argue that it's less music but released more often, but it seems most artists don't adhere to that idea. I once heard, many years ago now, a record company employee say that EPs were the future; that labels would release an EP from an artist and then fans would get EPs every 6 months from that artist... Thankfully, that hasn't exactly become the norm.]

Gone seem to be the days when a band crafts an honest-to-goodness ALBUM. An album where every song works together in a seemingly common goal or theme. Instead, we have more EPs that just feel like short little bursts of new goodness that kind of tease you and leave you hanging and seldom feel complete.

So what are YOUR thoughts? Are you an "album" buyer? Do you like and prefer EP's? Or do you like your songs more a la carte? (i.e. You just pick and choose your favorite songs from album to album) Me? I do prefer a good, solid album... But what about you?

-- John DiBiase


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Comments

1. Lena Smith said...

I like full albums because I love buying physical CDs. I don't like buying digital music because I love having paper liner notes in my hands.

2. Josh+ said...

Typically I do prefer a good solid full length album...some of my favorite switchfoot, jars of clay, and PFR songs were cuts that never made it to radio

3. Marc Webb said...

I'm probably considered old school, but I still love buying full albums. I think there is something special about listening to an entire album all the way through.

4. M+Rice+(JFH) said...

To the best of my ability, I only ever listen to full albums. To listen to one song out of an album is akin (or ought to be akin) to reading one chapter out of a book. I like EPs as well, as long as they aren't simply songs transplanted to the EP from some previous or future album.

5. Josh O. said...

I always prefer buying the physical album and listening to it in its entirety. It's tough to beat opening up the wrapping on a cd/vinyl, sitting down, and reading through the lyrics while listening to the whole thing. I also love going through the liner notes and seeing who all was involved. Digital music just doesn't give me the same satisfaction as getting the music in physical form does.

I love EPs when they truly are Extended Plays and feature B-sides or acoustic versions of songs. I would love to see more EPs that accompany albums instead of replacing or teasing albums.

6. James said...

You Know how I feel. I love the whole LP. Three cds that come to mind when I think of Great all around.. Lift by Audio Adrenaline, Comatose by Skillet and Unbreakable by Fireflight.

7. Gabriel Jones said...

I love the physical copies of records but sadly I don't have the physical space for them at the time. I do like having the option of buying individual songs (this would have saved me a ton back in the day).

8. Gabe said...

If it's an artist I really like, it's always a full album.
If it's an artist I just kinda like, iTunes is a lifesaver.

9. Michael Belt said...

Unless it's like a top 40 song (which is super rare) I always buy the full album. Usually it's because of one song. I wouldn't have discovered how great Innocence & Instinct was if I only bought their cover of Ordinary World (which is how I discovered Red)

10. Jaycee said...

I prefer full albums because you can't get singles at concerts and singles usually end up on an upcoming full album anyway. EPs are too short although they work nice for acoustics and remixes! It's always exciting when an artist puts out a full album because then they're whole concert layout changes and it's fresh new loved music.

11. Daniel said...

With so many outlets now available to listen to full albums as many times as you want before you actually buy the album, it seems my buying prowess has focused in the last two years solely on albums that I know I already love. 98% of time, I usually only buy LPs. I would never have found Worlds Apart by JOC, Mumford's Lover of the Light, or Crowder's Do Not Move if I didn't buy the whole album!

12. Daniel Lindahl said...

It depends on the genre for me. If it is a worship album sometimes I'm looking for good corporate songs to lead worship with and I find that I'll only download a few of the tracks. However with other styles I find myself usually buying the entire album as it is more of a cohesive unit of songs that go together. For example I would never buy just a single from Anberlin or Relient K, I either buy the whole album or not.

Now as a musician that has recorded EP's, singles, and LP's myself I can tell you that I HATE EP's and singles! It takes away so much from the writing process! I understand the benefits but I would much rather record a full album. I can't tell you how many times I've heard from artists that some of their best songs are ones they hardly had room for on their LP and were considering cutting! It happens so often! With EP's those songs would never make it and we'd be deprived of them.

13. Emerson Pedraza said...

I prefer physical singles.

14. John DiBiase said...

Emerson - those were fun! Ha... I remember those well.

15. Michael (JFH) said...

I love all the old school people here! Nothing beats having a physical copy. Digital is convenient, but I can easy rip my CD and make a digital copy for my phone.

Physical singles were fun too. I still have my "Entertaining Angles" and "Flood" cassette singles as well as my "Jesus Freak" and "Alien" (perhaps the coolest looking CD released ever) CD singles. The industry has changed so much over the past few years...

16. Lucas said...

Nothing beats a physical CD! I love opening the case and reading the lyrics as I listen and sing along. I do occasionally buy albums from itunes, but I prefer physical CDs more. I have a lot of CDs though from a lot of artists so it does get a bit cumbersome sometimes, so I buy physical CDs from artists I love, and artist I don't really love I'll get from itunes

17. Marcos said...

First : I always listen to the full album a few times (depending on how much my opinion evolves at each new listen).

Second : I handpick the songs that I like in the album (can be from 0 to the whole thing.

Third : I pretty much never to the full album again unless it's really a concept album. There are too many "new albums" that I listen in full for me to listen to old albums in full when I know there are songs that I don't care about in them.

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