Single, EP or album: What's the best way to release your music?

Recording studio mixing desk

If you’re a musical artist beginning to make something of a name for yourself on the live circuit, it’s probably time that you got some releases under your belt. Before you hit the studio and record that debut masterpiece you’ve been blasting snippets of in pubs and clubs around the country, knowing how to release music in the most effective way is important.

In this article, the Kore Studios team will take a look at singles, EPs and albums. We look at what the differences between them are, and which is the best format for you to release your work on.

What’s the difference between a single, an EP and an album?

We’ve all heard of singles, EPs and albums and probably have a pretty solid idea of what elements define each. Even so, you may not be fully aware of the specifics involved when it comes to the different formats.

Singles

A single is usually comprised of one major leading song with a maximum of two additional tracks alongside it. The additional tracks are usually referred to as B-sides, with the A-side being the main song, vying to be a chart hit. Interestingly enough, the A-side isn’t always the bigger hit, as was the case for Rod Stewart’s Maggie May (originally the B-side of Reason to Believe) and legendary rock ‘n’ roll hit Rock Around The Clock which had initially acted as the B-side of the little known Thirteen Women (And Only One Man In Town).

While you may not necessarily be releasing your singles on vinyl with a physical B-side, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t make the most of the option. Use your B-sides as an opportunity to put out remixes or variants of the lead single, or just try out something different that you don’t expect to be a hit.

The EP

In short, an EP – or ‘Extended Play’ – is a format longer than a single, but shorter than an album. Usually made up of between four and six tracks, EPs are often the first thing that an artist will release to the public to act as a kind of showcase of their music. Because EPs aren’t necessarily expected to flow as well as an album, if you really want to experiment with a range of sounds, an EP is the place to do it.

Albums

An album tends to be any musical release more than six tracks in length – unless you’re feeling particularly over the top and decide to release your album with one marathon-length track like progressive metal bands Sleep or Bell Witch.

Albums, as we’re sure you’re aware, tend to be the focus of a band’s discography and the overall metric by which they are judged. It can take years to put together an album as they tend to have a more focused flow or style throughout the tracks. Unlike singles or EPs, very few artists tend to be experimental within an album, only pushing them out once a clear theme has been decided on.

Should my band release a single, an EP or an album?

This question of how to actually release music does not have a catch-all answer. Your decision as to what format you release your music should instead come down primarily to where you are in terms of your musical career, which we’ll take a look at below. However, genre should also be a consideration: hip-hop artists may wish to produce mixtapes, while ambient electronic artists may skip singles altogether.

EP first

When you first start out, an EP is a fantastic way to show off what your band is all about. If you’ve played a few live shows and have garnered something of a following, then releasing an EP can give your fans something tangible that exhibits a range of your strong points.

In the age of online streaming, an EP works perfectly as a release on the likes of Soundcloud or Bandcamp – or even the giants of Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal. You can really flex your strengths through an EP, so use it to show off your early work and live crowd-pleasers to build up some wider interest in your material.

Singles are essential

With an EP out and a growing fanbase waiting for new material with bated breath, dropping some killer singles is the next logical step. While the ability to release your music online by yourself is a great benefit of living in the internet age, it can also cause your music to get lost among the thousands of other tracks and albums that get released. If you produce music within a very popular scene, it can be very hard to stand out from the crowd on EPs and albums alone.

Singles offer artists a fantastic opportunity to continue generating buzz for your musical project in between album releases. Writing, recording and releasing an album can take months of work and there’s a lot of room for your band to fall out of the wider public consciousness in that time. Singles, on the other hand, are cheap, quick and easy to record and release – so make sure that you don’t let the buzz die down! When an album is on the horizon, don’t stop with the singles! Be sure to release your favourite tracks from the upcoming full-length to promote it even further.

Recording the album

With an EP or two under your belt and a number of singles out there, you’ll quickly work out exactly what it is that your fans are pining after. With a fanbase actually looking forward to hearing your full-length album, the time and cost that goes into releasing an album is justifiable.

It’s important not to rush your album release or feel as though you’re following a regimented process that must go ‘EP followed by single followed by album’. Your album will likely attract the most attention from your fans and critics alike, so you’ll want to ensure that it’s the very best work you’ve put together. Bands like The Stone Roses and Sex Pistols became very successful while releasing very few albums, while Buckethead has remained relatively underground despite releasing 306 full-length studio albums since 1992 (an average of almost 12 albums every year!).

Ultimately, your albums should show off your very best work. Take your time, get booked into a great studio and do your utmost to produce something stunning. If you’ve had some successful gigs and have encouraged your fanbase with a great single or two, then an album should be just around the corner – just make sure it’ll blow the roof off.



Whether you’re recording a single, EP or an album it deserves to be produced to perfection. For one of the best recording studio experiences in London, get in touch with Kore Studios to create something amazing!