The LP Is Dead. Here’s a Detailed Guide for Releasing an EP…

The following guest post comes from Radar Music Videos, who argue that the ‘long-playing album’ (or ‘LP’) is effectively dead for artists in 2013.  The shorter EP sibling, on the other hand, makes much more sense and is very much alive.     

Did you know the Album is dead? Well it is for most artists and here’s a list of reasons why:

• EPs are more affordable than albums

• EPs are an easy ‘taster’ for new listeners

• EPs can be released more frequently than albums

• Track for track over time, EPs could generate more revenue than albums if there’s a lot of material

• EPs can keep fans up-to-date more easily than albums

• EPs are more flexible, e.g. they can be released to coincide with short tours

• Why produce an album? The only strong reason we’ve come across is that they’re still relevant for some types of artist, e.g. concept albums for prog rock bands.

Assuming you’re with us on the EP / album issue, you might find it handy to run through our timeline guide to releasing and promoting an EP.  We identified the key stages and spoke to our friends at Warp Records, Kobalt Label Services, BAM!, and EmuBands for their top tips…


– Have your photoshoot done. Identify 3 or 4 shots that you will be using as the press shots for the campaign.

– Make sure that your release is registered with PRS for Music, and PPL (or your local collecting society).

“Each time your song is played on the radio, downloaded or streamed online, or played in public, you are due extra money from PRS for Music (if you wrote, or co-wrote the song), but you have to be a member of PRS for Music and have registered the song with them in order to claim this money.”

(Ally, EmuBands)

– Collate your assets (press shots, pack shots, mixes etc)

– Commission remix

– Identify key angles and generate press and marketing ideas. Draft your press release!

“What is special about your music? And why should a ‘busy journalist’ listen to it? That’s the most important message you need to communicate through your press releases”.

“It’s also essential to send it to relevant targeted journalists in order to get good PR results. Spend time to research blogs and websites that have covered ‘similar’ artists to yourself recently.”

(Ben, BAM!)

– Identify marketing and PR professionals that you wish to work with. Make contact and negotiate price.


– Engage PR and start campaign – Initially targeting Longlead titles.

“It’s still worth sending your EP to longleads who don’t necessarily do EP reviews because it’s good to get it out to them for features/ single reviews/ mentions. Remember to choose your target publications depending on your artist and their sound…” 

(Leah, Warp Records).

– Engage radio and video plugger.

– Announce EP to social media and to press / online.

– Assuming that you haven’t already, engage booking agent (10-20% of gross). Discuss a tour to promote your EP, and launch party shows. A good agent will be able to fix your band up with some suitable support slots along the way.

– Commission the official music video, the aim is to create a stand-out, remarkable video. (Try Radar to find great new directors, it’s completely free!)

– Create a lyric or packshot video. The point is to have this video on the band’s YouTube channel when radio play begins ahead of release date, capturing early views and interest. A correctly tagged and annotated video will help boost subscribers to your channels. (Again, you can try Radar to find great new directors, it’s still completely free!)


– Identify the track from the EP that will lead your radio campaign.

– Start to organise interviews with longleads and pitch reviews in the publications that do them.

“Always research your PR targets. Not just for the genre of music they write about, but also the sorts of features they contribute to their publication… You want to be speaking to the right audience with the right message.” 

(Patrick, Kobalt Label Services)

– Upload EP, artwork and metadata to your digital distribution company. The earlier you do this the better, as it gives their marketing and promotions team more time to plan and execute a strategy for promoting your EP through the digital stores and streaming services. The later you leave it the less chance you have of securing features, and if for whatever reason you have to push your content to digital stores immediately many digital distributors can do this in just a few hours if necessary.

(EmuBands have prepared a guide to preparing your release for distribution – Click here to view this)


– Remix should be completed now. Use this as an extra PR asset.

– Book your banner/ Facebook/ Google advertising.

– Send single to radio and EP to online.

Don’t be offended when you don’t get a response from a journalist that you’re trying to reach out to. These people receive a huge amount of emails every day, and they can’t reply to everyone. If they like it though, you’ll hear from them” 

(Ben, BAM!)

– Radio promotion also begins. Single and EP promos are presented to radio producers and presenters with a press release and list of forthcoming live dates.

– Social media begins to focus on the release campaign.

“Utilising social media is a great way to promote your release, for example sharing the release and any playlist it may appear on via Facebook and Twitter” 

(Ally, EmuBands)

– Digital store promotions set up. Your digital distributor can advise you on what exposure you can expect. There are a lot of opportunities here, ranging from being featured on the iTunes store homepage to featured Spotify advertising.


– Send EP to weeklies and broadsheets.

Once again most weeklies and broadsheets don’t tend to review EPs but good to pitch for features and single reviews” 

(Leah, Warp)

– Service video to TV for playlist rotation consideration.

– Radio playlist consideration.

– Soundcloud stream premiere on a top site followed a day or two later with a blast out to other sites for more embedding, start adding up those numbers and collating your press interest to convince radio you are popular!


– Organize interviews with weeklies, set up reviews.

It’s always good to include some quotes from well respected publications if you have them, especially when reaching out to new places. A good review helps to convince people that it’s not just you promoting you music, but that others are talking about it too.” 

(Patrick, Kobalt Label Services)

– Secure a video exclusive with a popular music site and general coverage in music media.

– Promote fan special offers; exclusive tracks, early order discounting etc.

“There are many things you can offer journalists to help secure coverage. It’s not just about the music on your EP. Do you have anything that they can give away? Free downloads, T-shirts or gig tickets maybe? Good video footage, tour diaries, live dates, press shots, should be sent to press too – anything to show them you are a ‘relevant’ hard working band, not just a flash in the pan!”

(Ben, BAM!)


– Digital store promotion live

– Paid advertising live

– TV rotation

– Radio sessions and interviews.

– Celebrate EP coming out!! Release show!


– Follow up press campaign to generate further press coverage. “Don’t expect results instantly. It can be a slow game especially if this is your first release and no-one has heard of you before. It’s a discovery and fan building game at first, sales come later.” (Patrick, Kobalt Label Services)

Album and tour news to be associated throughout if appropriate.


It’s possible to do just about all these things for free. You can do it yourself, get friends to do it, pull in favours… but good professionals will do a much quicker and more effective job. More to the point, journalists are more likely to listen to stuff from reputable PRs; pluggers are personally connected to producers; promotions people know which advertising is cost-effective; experienced directors make attractive music videos and so on.

All that should result in more sales of your EP and more tickets sold to your shows.

Good luck!

This rough guide has been compiled with the help of Leah Ellis, Warp Records; Ally Gray, EmuBands; Patrick Ross, Kobalt Label Services; Ben Allen, BAM!; and Mark Walker, Radar Music Videos.

41 Responses

  1. Zac Shaw

    Musicians need more no-bullshit info like this. Bravo.
    Only part it’s missing is the crowdfunding campaign to create the budget from fan patronage instead of signing your rights over for exploitation… unless of course you’re into that sort of thing.

    • Caroline from Radar Music Vide

      Good point, thanks!
      A crowdfunding campaign also useful for presales – or arguably presales is the reason why to do crowdfunding campaigns.

  2. Faza (TCM)

    Okay, I guess I have no choice but to engage in my standard schtick: what we have here is a post that begins with a bunch of unsubstantiated assertions and then proceeds to build what is essentially a ‘fantasy release schedule’ on top of those.
    Fantasy release schedules are fun, I’ll be the first to admit, but after seeing masses of similar “here’s what you gotta do” posts over the years – and very little evidence of the success of such strategies – I suggest we backtrack a bit and actually examine the assertions a wee bit more closely:
    1.EPs are more affordable for whom? Artists? Not likely. A lot of the costs associated with production – studio setup, sourcing artwork and the like – and promotion will be fixed. This means that on a per-song basis EPs are a more expensive option, especially if you release them more often. They may also not be more affordable to fans, since it’s likely that the bundled options will be more expensive, per-song, than the album equivalent, for similar reasons.
    2. EPs are an easy taste, but one that’s also not very filling. They occupy a rather tricky middle ground between singles (where the buyer is only interested in one particular song) and albums (where the buyer wants a healthy dose of the artist’s music) and I’m not convinced that there’s actually a market niche there. (More on the singles issue in a bit.)
    3. EPs can be released more frequently – and that’s part of what makes them more expensive than albums, especially if you want to go through all the steps outlined in the post for each of them, see 1.
    4. EPs can generate more revenue per-track – or they might just as well generate less. Data, please.
    5. EPs can keep fans more up to date – but they also offer less new material, which can get tricky when planning a live set. Besides, this assumes a tighter release schedule, which leads to problems pointed out in 1 and 3.
    6. EPs are more flexible – true, which is why in the past they were mostly used as special-purpose releases, as opposed to the main product line.
    The real reason the album is, supposedly, dead is track-unbundling, meaning that essentially all songs on an album are singles (eliminating the need to purchase an album for those songs that weren’t singles). That said, I know of no major artist that doesn’t still release albums as their main thing, so perhaps this whole “death of the album” line is a bit overstated, yes?
    Coming back to point 2 for a moment, I believe there are now two kinds of music buyer/fan. The first just wants single tracks to slot into their playlist and put on shuffle. For them, it doesn’t particularly matter what bundled format you choose, ‘coz they won’t be buying the bundle anyway. The other kind likes to listen to complete works and for them, an EP is likely to be unsatisfying – it’s over just as they were getting warmed up.
    In any case, since there’s more material on an LP, you stand a better chance of having something on there that will appeal either to a single-song hunter or will serve as an entry point for the bundle buyer.

    • Caroline from Radar Music Vide

      Well the reason we did this article is 1/ we noticed a lot of our smaller label & independent artist clients are putting out EPs and not putting out LPs. 2/ I attended a great panel at The Great Escape recently on this theme. Panellists were managers and journalists, all of them agreeing the merits of EP vs LP.
      It is a fantasy release schedule in the sense that any plan is a fantasty.
      All your other points are interesting, it depends on your recording cost base, which for most artists coming through are low, ditto artwork.
      And that IS true, it costs as much to promote a 4 track bundle as it does to promote a 12 track bundle. BUT singles and bundles are opportunities to generate and congregate press, attention, engagement. And better to do that 3 times a year than once a year?
      I think EP-better-than-LP proposition is much more applicable to artists coming up, rather than main market, major label artists – whose audience probably aren’t so comfortable with EP formats anyway.
      It will be interesting to see whether iTunes/Neilson will create another EP chart…

      Thanks for your comment,

    • GGG

      The main argument for EPs is even if someone wants to give a new act more time to sink in, it’s usually not for ten tracks/45 mins. EPs are great for giving that taste and leaving them wanting more. And as long as you don’t wait a year to put out another, you’ll have more music out.
      As for costs of recording, etc, you can still do it all at once, just release the songs split up. And in 2013, there are numerous ways to do so without incurring a substantial amount more cost.

    • Dusty45s

      Very good counterpoints. I would think that it is important to consider band budget, whether they are working with an indie label, receiving government art grants (which have very strict limitations) and audience. It doesn’t make sense that a new mainstream pop or country artist is worried about anything more than a single at a time. Some sites suggest that it takes upwards of $30K for a single to receive airplay on mainstream radio. On the other hand, the punk and hardcore scenes have been using the 7″ format for decades and it makes more sense to create more EPs more often to directly support tour costs.

  3. David

    I’ve noticed a tendency (not that I can quantify it) for artists to release an EP (4 or 5 tracks) then later to include the same tracks on a full-length album. (I think Laura Mvula is a case in point – she had a 4-track EP in 2012, 3 tracks from which went onto her album in 2013, and all 4 onto the ‘deluxe’ version.)
    Now this is fine for the artist, as they may sell the same tracks twice, but it can be annoying for the consumer if they were not expecting it. I think at least that if artists intend to do this they should make it clear in advance.
    There is also a danger that if you release your best material on an EP, and then include it on an album, the album itself is a letdown. I can think of at least one case of this (not Laura Mvula).

  4. Greek X-music industry insider

    There is no need for such detailed things to “sell” music… focus on the quality of the music you are releasing, and on the timing of the release… A good song, ep, lp etc. will find its way to the world/market.
    Also please keep in mind… that at the end of the day… if the product is not good, it doesn’t matter how much money you’ll spend on marketing advertisment etc… the product will fail…
    Invest on creating music!

    • GGG

      1. If someone gets some ideas out of this, what’s the harm?
      2. Plenty of great artists get swallowed up in ocean of music out there.
      3. A significant amount of mainstream music is mediocre at best, but enough money pumped into it leads to enormous exposure/sales.

      • TheGreek

        1. it’s harmless… did i say the opposite?
        2. can you please name a dozen of them (if you can… then, they didn’t swalloed up by the “ocean of music”)? I can name only Sixto Rodriguez by the way
        3. can you please talk with numbers? for example do you know how much money invested on Gaga’s 1st album and on Gaga’s 2nd album, and what was the ROI of each? Do an exercise and check for bands that made their debute an had huge hit, then the record companies invest a lot to have more sales on the second album… and because of the lack of a hit… they never got their money back. When you say “enough money pumped into it leads to enormous exposure/sales” i think you confuse exposure with sales… it’s true that you will have exposure, and logical as well… if you pay for ads etc, everyone will know about your product… but why do you think that this will lead to sales???
        Where is Duffy, Gabiella Cilmi etc? Do you think that their record company didn’t follow the steps mentioned on this article? Of cousre they did… but their album were “empty of hits” (no offense about those artits, they were just an example…)

        • GGG

          1. You said “there’s no need for detailed things.” Reading detailed things can lead to ideas, so there is need for them in a way. If some artist asked you for advice, you’d just say “Make great music and release it?” Wow, helpful.
          2. Uh, if you really think there aren’t great undiscovered artists in a country of 300M+ or a world of a couple billion, I dunno what to tell you.
          3. I didn’t confuse exposure with sales, which is why I wrote it as I did. And no, exposure does not always lead to sales, but it still leads to exposure. Which is why a Paris Hilton single will get infinitely more airplay than 99.9% of actual musicians, and even if it sells shitty, probably still sell more than most of them. Or at the very least, millions more people are exposed to that music. The label recouping their costs is irrevelant to my point.
          Also, I don’t think you know how much money it costs to get the PR, marketing and radio promo to even be able to cut into the mainstream market. Duffy’s first single was everywhere and her promotion was pretty substantial, as well. The fact that she didn’t catch on (after her first couple singles which actually sold hugely) is, again, irrelevant to the intial point.

          • TheGreek

            Have you ever worked for the music industry? Have you ever worked with a breakthrough artist? Have you ever “created” an artist? Or you are here just for commenting other people (and pros sometimes) comments… sitting in front of you pc and just read a lot about music, online?

          • GGG

            I’ve worked in the music industry for almost ten years. Yes, I’ve worked with a breakthrough artist, although very low on the totem pole, was still privy to plenty of info. So please, tell me where I’m wrong. Or just ignore all substance of my post altogether…

  5. DudeNoDyde

    Digital listening is one thing…FFWD…FFWD, but if someone with a turntable goes to the trouble of droppin’ the needle, I believe the time spent with that vinyl should be as long as possible and the band should utilize as much of the real estate on the disc as possible.

  6. Matt Urmy

    Disagree. Fans will support the artists they love, despite format. Discovery is a separate issue, and you have to include singles, and videos in that discussion. If you know your fans, and you make art that they crave, they will buy it whether it’s 5 songs, or 10 songs.
    If you want to argue about business models, or smarter go-to-market strategy that’s fine…but title the article: “EPs are better for business”….At the end of the day, great music that is well promoted is what sells.
    Love this site by the way…quite entertaining.

  7. Minneapolis Musician

    Most Important, before you do any of this:

    First: be able to reliably fill a 500-capacity room every 6 weeks in your hometown. And in any nearby town that is at least 3-hour’s drive away.

    If you cannot do this, you do not have the popularity to be releasing yet another recording in the ocean of recordings that are out there.

  8. FOH Perspective

    I’ve been booking bands into clubs and festivals and doing sound professionally for over a decade, and I was a working musician for over a decade before that — so my perspective.
    I prefer seeing bands do EPs to LPs. Assume I book a band into my room 4 times a year. I’ve noticed that on average, a band will sell to10% of a new room. A cd release show will move 30- 50% perhaps, unless a cd is given with each ticket sold. Each subsequent time the band plays that same room, however, the percentage drops unless the band has new merchandise unavailable the previous show.
    EPs keeps fresh product on the table. It can be bundled with other EPs to form sets .. so
    Jan / EP12013 comes out
    April / EP22013 comes out
    EP2 = $7
    EP1 = $5
    Purchased separately = $12
    Purchased together = $10

    July / EP32013 comes out
    Purchased separately = $16
    Purchased together = $13.50

    Oct / EP42013 comes out
    SEPARATELY = $19
    TOGETHER = $15

    Maximizing merchandising options leads to increased sales metrics.
    Doing EPs keeps bands in studio – perfecting studio craft and song craft. Keeping bands in studio provides for more sustainable revenue for studios, instead of the more typical on-off every 18 months that too often occurs.
    None of this will work for every band, or under every situation – and exceptions abound in every case … but my perspective from where I sit is that EPs are more valuable than LPs nowadays.

    • Michael

      This is essentially my reason for pushing for EPs: it gives people another reason to check out the same band in an overloaded market.
      Attention spans are very thin, these days. My impression is that more often is better than longer.


      • Jerry

        Since the market is overloaded isn’t the last thing we should be doing is suggest that everyone quadruple their release schedule?

        • GGG

          People will still not hear or listen to 99.9% of music released so doesn’t really matter.

  9. dave

    Sorry but every decade there seems to be a “EP to replace LP” initiative… I remember as a kid buying CBS’ Nu-Disc 10″ EPs.. these were supposed to replace both the single and the LP!
    I think that in the digital world “EP/LP/Single” is irrelevant for many bands… However, let’s just keep EPs and LPs as two separate entities that can live in peace and harmony w/one another. Pretentious prog rock bands may also want to issue an EP as well! Just like a soul artist might want to issue an LP that is a cohesive artistic statement and snapshot of time.

  10. tippysdemise

    Check the discography of any band you like (as huge as you like) where statistics are shown (streaming services etc.) and notice the fraction of plays and general attention that EP’s receive relative to LP’s in the discography.

    • GGG

      EPs are historically promoted far less than LPs, though. For the acts I am a fan of that have EPs, I’d say almost across the board EPs were/are either early releases, self-released or on tiny labels just to get music out in the world, a supplement to an album that casual fans would ignore, basically just a filler if they knew it’d be a while before more music, or something geared toward diehard fans, whether it was the afore mentioned idea or some b-sides/rarities, whatever.
      If you’re going to go the EP as release route, you obviously have to structure it much differently than it traditionally has been.

  11. Chris

    EP’s are far better for an artists career than an LP – WHY?For a start 2013 is all about engagement – constant engagement. Traditionally you’d write an album, release it then tour it – a process that would be a 2- 4 year cycle. Think about that. Your fans only get one set of music every 2 – 4 years.As an artist writing 2 – 3 tracks every few months is far easier than writing 12 – 16 in one go. It also means you can keep feeding your fan’s desire for new content. Your fans expect soemthing for you every few weeks and will appreciate the constant attention.Albums are dissapearing from the public’s psyche. A number one album in the UK now can be as few as 10,000 sales!Also from a purchase point of view – It’s difficult to make people spend £7.99 on 12 tracks. If someone loves one track at 79p it’s far easier to get them to think of doubling or trebbling their spend to a couple of pound to buy your EP. And think about that you’ve just doubled your revenue!Streaming and YouTube especially are all about the single so do that – add on a couple of tracks and make people buy 4 to 5 EPS a year – it’s the same as an album but you’ve got a constant flow of content out and revenue in.

  12. Wampus

    Yeah, and EPs are certainly shallower, less ambitious, and less well-developed than LPs, which makes them perfect in a market for disposable goods.

    • GGG

      One of the stupidest things I’ve read on here. I have some EPs I’ll listen to any day over some albums that fall apart.
      Shorter length does not mean more shallow or less ambitious, it just means shorter. Or, hey, let’s not toss these mediocre songs on the record for the sake of making ten songs. If your artistic vision is a 20-25 minute span of music, why is that worse than a 45 min span of music, which almost always has a weak spot(s).

      • DudeNoDude

        I do have 25+ years experience, developing and promoting artists on the way up… and always considered cost vs. sales margins!
        EP’s tell and LP’s sell!
        Sure with a Lady GaGa and the likes who can sell EP tonnage because of an enormous cost effective sales base, because there’s volume to justify the costs with these incrumental EP sales. Everything related to EP’s generally appeals to hardcore fans and collectors…
        If your a band/artist with a low 1-10,000 potential EP sales base — that goes right to your bottomline. Spending a bit more pressing an LP is more thorough and cost effective for budgeting purposes. Individual tastes will dicate what are___marginal songs__good songs and great songs!, but if you don’t put them on the pressing you won’t know. Developing bands can put whatever they want on a LP: demo tracks, live songs, alternative versions of songs, cover songs, anything that constitutes 38-60 minutes and great artwork, etc.. Why limit yourself?
        Leave it to digital universe to test the waters on individual songs (look before you leap) These days on your way up you have to mindful of your budget.

        • GGG

          I don’t disagree with any of this. I still don’t think and EP is an innately inferior thing because it’s shorter, though.

          • Kev

            Artistically, I believe that an EP has a lot more potential than an LP, since most artists rehash the the same topics/themes over and over again on LPs. Unfortunately, EPs have long been degraded and viewed as promotional tools or taste makers and it’s hard to take on a billion dollar industry that prefers to maintain that perception.

  13. anon

    Who is coming up with this crap?
    EP’s as 12 inch singles are frowned upon by physical distributors. Much shoter shelf life than lp. Don’t encourage labels to waste money.
    And no one buys cd e.p.’s or singles.

  14. Dirk van den Heuvel/Groove Dis

    I have to disagree with this post too. It seems to assume no physical product is being made. The timeline never mentions manufacturing deadlines (4 weeks out, check tests pressings, etc).
    As a importer/distributor we find there are basically two markets: singles and albums. Very few EPs manage to appeal to either one very well. The ones that DO, would have succeeded anyway. Many indie rock stores don’t want to carry singles and many EPs strike them as singles on steroids. LPs on the other hand they are happy to stock and keep restocking.
    Also in the dance world most EPs are treated like singles ANYWAY. The day of a 2 track 12″ single is long gone. So with 4-5 tracks/remixes most 12″ singles these days are EPs, but they are bought and sold like 12″ singles. Not LPs. And not even like mini-albums.

    So if this article is strictly about digital releases it may very well be correct, but if you are talking about releasing physical product (vinyl records or CDs) forget about it. EPs are a middle ground compromise that MOST times doesn’t satisfy the market.
    Dirk van den Heuvel

  15. Chris

    @Dirk and @anonOf course it’s digital only. UK has 99.8% of singles as digital – the peoiple who make physical product are hipster indie bands (7″ vinyl) and X Factor winners (CD singles) – NOBODY else bothers with physical singles anymore in the UK

  16. Nicki

    Well im a music fan and one of my favorite artist is supposedly releasing a EP . So I did this search to try to gain an understanding as to why and came upon this article . This article has some very good points and a lot of artists new and old could benefit from this information. On the other hand , I dont want an Ep from my favorite artist. I want a full album and im not happy with the decision for them to do it. It seems like a real waste of time to me or a ploy to get more of my money, releasing a Ep now and a full album later ? Bah Humbug!

  17. Da Guy

    This post is the best clarification and reply. O my its possibly the easiest to rely see how all in the indy music industry pulls together to simplify sells. E P’s is far better far far better, even with a world wide following . Share this with enthusiastic fans. new fans. school fund raisers festival open park shows, at a near by mall on the street corner near a drive through food change stores 7 Elevens stores nation wide get on the grey hound use the America Bus National travel on the Trains stops acoustic shows seniors shows all kinds of ways co opt shows with CD EP/DVD sells love it love it love it. You do not have to be great just show effort it can do a lot for your confidence. Yo this article is the best yet>>>> New era being when I endorse CD/EP/DVD/EP in 2009 exactly and we have not look back since .. Its easy and people love it welcome to easy pro// EP ……

  18. heroicis

    4 years later and the debate rages on across internet forums… single, EP or LP.
    There are pros and cons to each strategy, and whether you release an EP or LP is going to be determined by where you are in your career and what the marketing strategy is for the release.

    Personally, I favor releasing 3 six song EPs a year. the single for the next EP gets released 30 days ahead of the next EP.
    This keeps a steady stream of music going out about every 90 days. But the reason I can do that is because of how I market and sell music.