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Trent Reznor has unilaterally redefined the concept of the EP

Back in the late 70s, a new format was introduced. The EP (Extended Play) was a 12-inch slab of vinyl that slotted itself right between the 7-inch single (two songs) and the 12-inch LP (up to 40 minutes per side). E

EPs featured somewhere between three and six songs–shorter than an album but substantially longer than a single–and had a total running time of less than 25 minutes. That loose definition became a formal one when organizations like the Official Chart Company of the UK needed a way to classify these releases.

In the CD era, things got a little more complicated. Was a three-track Oasis CD a single with two bonus tracks or a short EP? What about a disc with four songs?

In America, the RIAA defined an EP has a release containing three to five songs OR a release with a running time of less than 30 minutes. But then we have the Grammys, which says that any release with five or more songs–different songs–that run for 15 minutes or more is an album. The Grammys don’t even talk about EPs.

Let’s not even get into the concept of mini-LPs or double EPs. Or Ramones albums that are done after 29 minutes. Or records like Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells album which features just two songs that have a total runtime of 47 minutes. That’s for another time when tequila is present.

Meanwhile, Trent Reznor has thrown another spanner into the definition. He has declared that the upcoming Nine Inch Nails release, Bad Witch, is in his eyes, an album even though it has just six songs and a running time of 30:11.

This has annoyed some people who maintain that Bad Witch doesn’t fit the definition of an album and should be classified as an EP. After all, isn’t this the third release in a triptych of EPs that began with Not the Actual Events in December 2016?  And at six songs, it’s just too short.

But Trent actually has a point. The album contains more than the five songs required under several definitions. It also has a running time of over 30 minutes–barely, but it qualifies.

There’s another reason why Trent wants this to be classified as an album. This is from a thread at

Want to know why it’s being labelled an LP instead of an EP?
EPs show up with singles in Spotify and other streaming services = they get lost easier.
EPs feel less important in today’s music-isn’t-as-important-as-it-once-was world. Why make it easier to ignore?
We’re not charging any more for it so why get worked up about it?

Trent also had this to say to a naysayer:

Quantum550: suck my entire cock.

There it is, then. The album will be out June 22.




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.

Alan Cross has 38019 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Trent Reznor has unilaterally redefined the concept of the EP

  • By RIAA standards, Bad Witch is an album.
    3-5 songs OR less than 30 minutes.. Bad Witch is 6 songs AND clocks in just over 30 minutes by 11 seconds.

    I’m assuming RIAA doesn’t have minimum requirements for an album aside from it exceed EP thresholds.

    Who cares that it only has 6 songs? Most Iron Maiden albums from the 80s only had 8 tracks.


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