How To Make A EP Album – Step By Step To Extended Play Perfection
Today we're going to look at how to make a EP album. If you're in the process of creating an EP or if you're thinking of doing so, this is the guide you're going to need.
In this article we're going to look at the benefits of creating a music EP, what stages the process involves, and how you can make your CD stand out from the crowd. So without wasting any time, let's get into it!
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What Is A Music EP
The letters EP stand for Extended Player. An EP is a compilation of songs, which is longer then a single but shorter then an album.
A single is one single song, and an album generally contains 8 songs or more. The average EP is around four songs long.
It's usually made up of original songs, ones that haven't already been released in the form of another type of project. You can read more about what a EP stands for here.
Why Should You Make An EP
If you're pretty new to the world of EPs, you may be wondering what the benefit of creating an EP is over creating say a single, album or mixtape. While it may not be ideal for every situation, just like the other types of music compilations, the EP has it's time and place.
First of all, the EP is great as a promotional tool. While singles are quick and easy to create, they don't give people a full idea of what you can do.
It is only one song after all. On the other hand, while an album can show off many different sides to you, it can be long and expensive to produce.
The EP is the middle ground. It's long enough to showcase your talent, but it's not so long that you need to spend ages putting it together.
While creating a mixtape can get your noticed, an EP can generally do the same job if you approach it right. Unlike creating a mixtape though, EP albums are generally, but not always, made using original backing tracks.
People also expect a lot less tracks to be in an extended player. EPs can also be given away as an incentive for people to join your mailing list, something we'll talk about more in future guides.
Should You Give Your EP Away For ‘Free' Or Sell It?
Before you start creating your EP, you need to decide what the aim for it is. Are you going to sell it to try and make money from your music career, or are you going to give it away in exchange for non monetary benefits (in exchange for people signing up to your mailing list, in exchange for a tweet etc)?
This is completely up to you. I will say though, that if you're not going to sell it, make sure you exchange it for something else.
An email address, a Facebook like, them spreading the word in some way. You want to show them that your music is worth something, and subconsciously show them that it's worth more then all those other songs that they just download for free.
Whatever you decide,you'll need to create a good EP cover. More on that later.
How To Pick The Right Tracks For Your EP
Ok, so let's talk about actually creating your EP. If you've already got some songs recorded, it's fine to use these tracks for this project.
You should make sure these tracks haven't already been included on your album or as a single release where possible, as you want it to be fresh so the word can spread about your project.
When picking the style for your extended player, you have a few options. You can either keep all the songs of the same type (e.g. All heavy rock, all pop, or all conscious rap), you can have two tracks more melo and two tracks showing a different side to yourself, or you can have four tracks all showing different styles you can create.
My advice would be not to go with the last version. This can be too confusing to the listener, and will most likely mean they will have to skip tracks.
You should ideally keep the style largely similar in each EP you do, as you will want to get the fans of that kind of music to enjoy everything you do. This is the kind of thing that will make them want to listen out for more of your stuff, and hopefully turn them into a life long fan.
You can however showcase two different styles if you think it's appropriate.
Structuring Your EP
As well as getting the right style of song for your project, you should also think about how you're going to lay your EP out. If you do decide to have more then one style of song on there, you will need to make sure things flow.
So for example, you can't have a ragga song followed by a rap song followed by a ragga song then another rap song. If you're going to have both styles, play them separately.
So have both ragga songs, then both rap songs after. You may also want to have an introduction and an outro as well if you want to take things to the next level, which is what I always suggest you do!
Make Sure Your Recording Quality Is… Quality
There's nothing worse then downloading or buying a EP, and finding out it sounds like it's been recorded in a dustbin. In fact, it doesn't matter if you're releasing a EP or an album, poor recording quality is not acceptable!
Your EP is a promotional tool. It may even be free if you decide that to be the case.
Either way, you need to remember that people are still going to hear your music. They are going to hear it, and they are going to judge you based on it.
If therefore your songs sound of a poor quality, they are going to come to the conclusion that they don't like your music!
Always make sure you use a good quality recording studio when you're recording your project, anything less is like shooting yourself in the foot…
Enhancing Your EP With More Then Just Songs
Alright, so how can you make your EP stand out from the crowd? Well, one way is to include more then just songs on your EP.
Why not include a interlude some where between a couple of the tracks? Or how about a funny skit that will give fans a better idea of what you're personally about and hopefully make them laugh along the way?
It's small things like this that can turn a good EP into a great one! Do what you can to add more value to the listener, and have them remembering your EP over all the other ones they've heard before.
So say for example you can play a musical instrument. You could play a nice melody in between two of your tracks, or even keep the track going for long after the vocals are finished.
You will want to make this interesting by changing things up of course, as you don't want people to wish the track would finish already.
Alternatively, if you are a rapper and want to portray a big personality, why not include a skit or two in your EP? You could make a joke about something that's a hot topic in your genre, or your could get someone to do a funny or interesting skit for your.
It's the small touches like these that will have your EP standing out from the crowd. Give people something different to remember you by, and you will get a lot more people buying into what you have to offer.
The Importance Of Creating The Right Packaging
As well as making sure the songs on your EP are top quality, you also need to ensure that your package is presented in the right way. If you are doing a download only EP, you will of course have less packaging to sort out.
At bare minimum you will have to create a cover which includes art, your track listing, your contact details and a call to action. You may also want to include a separate front and back cover for added effect, some additional art work in the package, a copy of the song lyrics in text format, and the like.
If you're pressing up a physical copy of your EP, you will also want to decide what format you're going to distribute your EP on (as in are you going to create a CD or a vinyl for example).
The artwork for your EP is all important. Regardless of whether you're pressing up a physical copy or not, your cover is the first thing that people usually see.
If they're browsing around on the internet, people aren't generally going to hear your music just randomly playing. Most likely they're going to see that they can download a copy of your EP, and will need some persuading to take that action and do so.
Your cover can help with that persuading. Creating a good and relevant cover is a great way to increase the amount of people you get downloading your EP.
Similarly, if you have a poorly designed and unprofessional EP cover, a lot of people simply won't bother. So make sure you package your EP right, and don't underestimate the importance of this detail.
Promoting Your EP
Once you've pressed up your EP and it's ready to get out there, you need to remember one thing: Your music won't promote it's self!
You can put your EP on your site and your Facebook page, but that doesn't guarantee that it will get out there or do well. Instead, you need to make sure you spread the word about your new release.
There are a lot of ways you can effectively promote your music, so make sure you do what it needed to get your EP out there. If you create it but don't put the work in to get your music heard, you have simply just wasted your time and effort.
How To Make A EP Album Conclusion
Music EPs are a great promotional tool. They can be used in a variety of different ways, and are a lot quicker to make then an album or a mixtape.
If you're going to create EP, be sure to make yours stand out from the crowd. There are a few things you can do to achieve this, so make sure you put the work in to release a quality product.
Just don't forget to promote it or your efforts making this extended player would've been as waste of time.
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P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!
Do I need to buy instrumentals outright or can I get a lease for my ep and still get money?
These were awesome tips because I am actually about to start working on an EP. I have one question, once the EP is ready, is there a way to copyright the whole project or do I have to copyright each song individually?
As noted above, all intellectual property (music included) that is published (i.e. recorded, written down, etc.) is considered copyrighted material belonging to its creator(s). So you don’t need to file with the US Copyright Office, though it will protect you more in case of a lawsuit if someone steals your work. (This is only really necessary if you end up making lots of money from your music.)
If you do decide to file, with the US copyright office, it is cheaper and more economical to file the whole album together at once, and then all songs included on it will be protected.
Kyle M. (Music professional)
These are great tips! Thank you. I have a question though. How do I copyright my EP prior to releasing anything? Thank you.
You’re welcome Talia. Ok, here’s the copyright info:
Once you publish a piece of music it is automatically copyrighted in the eyes of the law. Add a copyright logo to your covers as well just to show this to people. (Low level copyright)
If you want to take things further, you could also post yourself a copy of your work before it’s released, with a timed delivery stamp. Don’t open the package, so if you ever need to prove you created your music before a certain date, you have the package as proof. (Medium level copyright)
If you want to do more, you may want to get in contact with a professional that deals with copyrighting, and they for a fee will be able to give you the highest level of copyright. (High level copyright)
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