Welcome again to another installment of information coming from the Maseed Productions’ Blog. In this article we will look at a seldom asked question: Single, EP, Mixtape or Album. Which Should You Drop 1st?
Getting right into it, we must first understand the definition of each.
Single – A single song, (usually the best and most mass appealing song on the album). The single is released on its own and will typically be played on radio stations, media streaming outlets, and other sources that play music for several weeks prior to the release of the full length album. The single serves as a teaser or promo song of the forthcoming album.
EP – AKA extended play expands on the concept of a single in that it is used as a teaser to a forthcoming album but in some cases can exist independently of a forthcoming album as a small original body of musical works. EPs usually contain anywhere from 4 to 7 songs.
Mixtape – Originally the mixtape format was something used by DJs and MCs as a means of showcasing the talents of both the DJ and the MC. DJs would compose a mix of well-known songs and feature an unknown or indie artist that could be heard rapping or singing over well-known instrumentals. This format gave the unknown artist an edge because the listeners of the mixtape were most likely already familiar with the instrumental of the song so if actually came off on it and did the beat justice you stood a good chance of being able to build a fan base that would be anticipating your forthcoming full length album.
Album – A complete body of works or collection of songs by an artist or group typically unified under an overall theme.
Despite the popularity of the mixtape, as a new artist it may not always be in your favor to drop a mixtape unless you are exceptionally talented, well known or well connected to an influential entity or major financial resource. The music industry, DJ/mixtape outlets, and social media are literally flooded daily with new mixtapes releases and it will be very difficult to get noticed amongst such a large number of them. With that being said, for a new artist it is highly recommended to start building your fan base by releasing a hot new single. The single is a teaser and if people dig it, they will most likely be inclined to listen to and support your next release.
A good follow up to a hot single would be either the release of another single or an EP. There’s no written rule that says you need to release an EP at all but lately some artists have been receiving positive results by doing so. If you do decide to drop an EP, the most important thing to keep in mind is that all 4 to 7 of the songs on it must be hot! With only a few songs on the release, there is no room for album fillers or mediocre songs. The idea here is to spark the interests of your fans by giving them a taste of what they can expect on the full length album. Another thing to note is that the songs on the EP will usually not be released on the album so think of an EP as a “mini-album” with a theme and concept all to itself.
Now on to the topic of the mixtape. The main thing to remember about mixtapes in general is that they are typically designed to be given away free of charge for promotional use only. Mixtapes are kind of like musical party favors or gift bags for your fans. The concept of the mixtape has evolved since its inception and it is not unusual to hear that an artist has released an entire full length, original project and dubbed it as a mixtape because it uses a mixtape format.
Now would be a good time to segway into exactly what the mixtape format is. Typically a mixtape is “hosted” by a well-known DJ. The DJ will introduce the mixtape, announce the artist, do some random shout outs and crew mentions and lead into the beginning of the program much like a DJ would do in a club or concert essentially MCing throughout the whole tape. A mixtape is usually continuous play with no pauses or breaks in between songs, basically the songs flow or are mixed right into the next just like DJs do when they play records live. The advantage of this format is that it instantly creates a “live” or party type feel to the project. Listeners feel as though they are in a club or at a live concert put on by the artist that they are listening to. Mixtapes are very impromptu, meaning they are usually improvised, and the shout outs and crowd hyping that you hear are often made up on the spot. So now that you understand the purpose of and the format of a mixtape, this will help you decide if you want to release one and why.
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, let’s talk about the all-important album release. The album is ultimately the culmination of everything that an artist claims to be and is trying to present to their fans at the time of its release. The album is usually based around a concept or a theme that can be representative of a real life depiction of the artist’s personal life, and era or significance in pop culture, political/religious/socio-economic views, sexual preference/orientation, love, art or just about anything you can think of. An album is like a book and each song is like a chapter in that book.
The goal behind an album release is to present fans with the best songs to date possible. Knowing that the album should reflect the best songs to date by that artist, if the artist is previously unknown to the public, it becomes challenging to encourage people to listen to an entire body of works from that person/group. This is why as a new artist attempting to build a fan base, it is usually best to enter into the market by first releasing a single and based on the response from the fans, follow that up with the release of a 2nd single or EP before releasing a full length album or mixtape.
“TIMING IS EVERYTHING” and all of your releases must be carefully timed and campaigned in order to achieve maximum potential reach to your audience.
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