The Return of the EP

The EP:  longer than a single but shorter than an album.  When they first started cropping up in the late 70s, they were called “mini-albums” but later renamed “extended plays.” Extended singles, I guess.

EPs have come and gone out of style over the decades–and now it seems to be back in vogue.  And they’ve become a real success story.  From Billboard:

It’s the rare music sales success story: In resurrecting the EP, or “extended play,” a format comprising eight or fewer songs, record labels are moving enough units to build revenue for a baby act with a song on the rise, and could see even greater rewards once the “complete my album” mechanism is offered at various digital retailers like iTunes and Amazon.

Sales trends for the past few years point to the EP increasingly acting as a holdover, almost like putting an album on layaway. If you later include the songs from the EP on the full-length or the deluxe version, it’s a small economic investment to get fans to complete the collection. (EPs retail for between $3.99 and $7.99 on average, compared with $1.29 for a single and $9 to $13 for an album. The more tracks that are released, the better the deal is to complete an album — or at least, that’s the theory.)

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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