Sunday, May 31, 2015

Single vs. EP vs. CD

If you’re thinking of recording and getting your music ministry out there, you’ve probably wondered what the best option is for releasing your music. Should you make a single and see how it goes? Should you make an EP (which comes from the days when there were Extended Play singles out there with 3-6 songs)? Or should you go ahead and make a full CD of 10 or more songs?

There is no wrong answer here, but there are definitely pros and cons to each that may help you make the decision. The answer really lies in where you are in your career, and what purpose the product is going to serve.

Single (1 song)

“Don’t invest a lot of time and money into recording a full-length music release before you start seeing results that your music is resonating with an audience. – Shaun Letang

If you are an artist who has never done anything before and no one has ever heard of you, then doing one great single might be your best bet. Perhaps you haven’t written many or any songs, but you’d like to put something out there to see what kind of reaction you get.

Doing just one song lets you get some studio experience, focus on doing one song really well, and then getting feedback from people in your circle, extended family and friends, or folks in the music business.

It announces you as an artist, and you can begin to see what you have in store financially, marketing-wise, and what kind of audience you might have.

If you are an established artist but haven’t released anything in a while, a single can be great for a quick shot of publicity to keep your following happy.

One single won’t bring in much money, in fact, it’s pretty much only a publicity/marketing expense. But it can be an important tool in this stage of your career.

EP (4-6 songs)

“Half a loaf is better than none.” – Old English Proverb

If you plan on doing any kind of performing, have more songs you’d like to share to show your versatility, or have a need for a product to give away or sell, then an EP might be a good idea The EP has seen a resurgence in the new world of downloads and streaming. It gets product out quicker than a full CD, and fans like getting new material faster.

It gives you the ability to say more than what you can on a single. For music ministries, the more you can have to speak and sing about, the better pastors and churches like it.

While making a full EP does cost less generally than a full CD, remember that you’ll need to still do the steps of mastering, photos, design, and duplication. These tasks can sometimes cost close to the same as doing for a CD.

CD (10+ songs)

The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection. – Michelangelo

While singles and EPs are certainly accepted, I still think there is nothing more powerful than an album. I realize this is my background, and that I grew up listening to full records all day as an artistic experience. Still, in my heart of hearts I believe serious music artists make full CDs.

The biggest plus for the CD is how much you can sell it for. It’s hard to sell singles for anything but 99 cents online, and EPs are difficult to sell for much. But you can still easily charge $10-15 per full CD, and that helps at the end of a night on your merch table if you are a working artist. Speak to any touring artist and they will tell you that sometimes they make more at their table than they do in honorariums or love offerings.

If you market albums correctly, they can last you more than a year and sometimes two, so you don’t have to make them as often. Since many of the expenses of doing a CD are part of making an EP as earlier described, it’s not always that difficult to go ahead and do 10 songs, instead of 4-6 for an EP.

So which is right for you? Well, that’s up to God and you. Make the right decision, but above all make some decision and get going!

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – John F. Kennedy

Have a great week!


Eric Copeland is president of Creative Soul, a consulting and production company based in Nashville, TN. For more info check out


Christian Band said...

You should also factor in the age of your target audience and how many truly great songs you have written. For example if your target audience is teenagers, they are not going to buy nearly as many CDs as a target audience of 40 somethings. Teens are also more likely to move on to another favorite band if they do not receive new music frequently. So, recording a full length CD with some B songs for teens is not the best use of your money. In that case frequently releasing only the truly great singles would be better.

Eric Copeland said...

I think people who make CDs would be artists that are touring or want to be, whether they are selling to 15 year olds or 65 year olds. You can sell product at shows, no matter what audience and demographic they are.

That's the key with CDs in my experience. There really are no other sales these days except for long tail download/stream money that may trickle in.