Ladies and gentlemen, today we discuss the benefits and disadvantages of putting out an EP vs. putting out a full-length album.
EP – short album, typically 4-6 songs, typically about 30 minutes or so
Full-Length – longer album, typically 10 songs or more, typically more than 45 minutes
First, understand that genre plays a role here. For EDM, rap, pop, country, jazz, and more these circumstances change. Because 99% of my work is in the rock genres, let’s keep it focused there. But, for what it’s worth, full-length (almost) always for these genres.
Second, what level is your band at? Are you a local, regional, or national act? Well, it is VERY rare that a national (or international) act puts out an EP. Lamb Of God put out The Duke which was only five songs, but that is a rare circumstance in metal.
For locals and regionals, chances are you want to put out an EP. I used to say the exact opposite. I used to believe that putting out a full-length was the only way to go. However, EP’s sole purpose is to put out a marketing album that is 4-6 songs in length, all originals. See, regional and local bands are still trying to get their name out. Their fan base isn’t established in a large way. So they need to do anything they can to ensure that they are keeping people engaged.
EP albums offer bands an opportunity to give fans and potential fans an appetizer of their music. These new fans aren't entirely ready to try a full dish of a band they have never heard, so you give them a taste instead. If you are putting out music properly, you should be releasing AT MINIMUM two EPs a year. Do this for a couple years and then you release a full-length. Once your fan base is solid and established. Once you have a couple 2-4 week tours under your belt. Once your line up is finalized (90% of the time, you will go through a couple line up changes before you are settled).