An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical
recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually
unqualified as an album or LP. EPs generally do not contain
as many tracks as albums, and are considered "less expensive and
time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP
originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78
rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length
CDs and downloads as well.
Ricardo Baca of
The Denver Post
The Denver Post said, "EPs—originally extended-play
'single' releases that are shorter than traditional albums—have long
been popular with punk and indie bands." In the United Kingdom, the
Official Chart Company defines a boundary between EP and album
classification at 25 minutes of maximum length or four tracks (not
counting alternative versions of featured songs, if present).
3 Double EPs
5 See also
EPs were released in various sizes in different eras. The earliest
multi-track records, issued around 1919 by Grey Gull Records, were
vertically cut 78 rpm discs known as "2-in-1" records. These had finer
than usual grooves, like Edison Disc Records. By 1949, when the
45 rpm single and 331⁄3 rpm LP were competing formats,
seven-inch 45 rpm singles had a maximum playing time of only
about four minutes per side.
Partly as an attempt to compete with the LP introduced in 1948 by
rival Columbia, RCA Victor introduced "Extended Play" 45s during 1952.
Their narrower grooves, achieved by lowering the cutting levels and
sound compression optionally, enabled them to hold up to 7.5 minutes
per side—but still be played by a standard 45 rpm phonograph.
These were usually 10-inch LPs (released until the mid-1950s) split
onto two seven-inch EPs or 12-inch LPs split onto three seven-inch
EPs, either sold separately or together in gatefold covers. This
practice became much less common with the advent of
Some classical music albums released at the beginning of the LP era
were also distributed as EP albums—notably, the seven operas that
Arturo Toscanini conducted on radio between 1944 and 1954. These opera
EPs, originally broadcast on the NBC
Radio network and manufactured by
RCA, which owned the NBC network then, were made available both in 45
rpm and 331⁄3 rpm. In the 1990s, they began appearing on
compact discs. RCA also had success in the format with their top money
earner, Elvis Presley, issuing 28 Elvis EPs between 1956 and 1967,
many of which topped the separate Billboard EP chart during its brief
During the 1950s, RCA published several EP albums of Walt Disney
movies, containing both the story and the songs. These usually
featured the original casts of actors and actresses. Each album
contained two seven-inch records, plus a fully illustrated booklet
containing the text of the recording, so that children could follow
along by reading. Some of the titles included Snow White and the Seven
Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), and what was then a recent release,
the movie version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea that was presented
in 1954. The recording and publishing of 20,000 was unusual: it did
not employ the movie's cast, and years later, a 12 in 33⅓ rpm
album, with a nearly identical script, but another different cast, was
sold by Disneyland Records in conjunction with the re-release of the
movie in 1963.
Because of the popularity of 7" and other formats, SP (78 rpm,
10") records became less popular and the production of SPs in Japan
was suspended in 1963.
In the 1950s and 1960s, EPs were usually compilations of singles or
album samplers and were typically played at 45 rpm on seven-inch
(18 cm) discs, with two songs on each side. Other than
those published by RCA, EPs were relatively uncommon in the United
States and Canada, but they were widely sold in the United Kingdom,
and in some other European countries, during the 1950s and 1960s.
Record Retailer printed the first EP chart in 1960. The New Musical
Express (NME), Melody Maker,
Disc and Music Echo and the Record Mirror
continued to list EPs on their respective singles charts. The Beatles'
Twist and Shout outsold most singles for some weeks in 1963. When the
Record Retailer commissioned the British Market Research
Bureau (BMRB) to compile a chart it was restricted to singles and EPs
disappeared from the listings.
In the Philippines, seven-inch EPs marketed as "mini-LPs" (but
distinctly different from the mini-LPs of the 1980s) were introduced
in 1970, with tracks selected from an album and packaging resembling
the album they were taken from. This mini-LP format also became
popular in America in the early 1970s for promotional releases, and
also for use in jukeboxes.
Stevie Wonder included a bonus four-song EP with his double LP Songs
in the Key of Life in 1976. During the 1970s and 1980s, there was less
standardization and EPs were made on seven-inch (18 cm), 10-inch
(25 cm) or 12-inch (30 cm) discs running either 331⁄3
or 45 rpm. Some novelty EPs used odd shapes and colors, and a few
of them were picture discs.
Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains was the first band to ever have an EP reach number one
on the Billboard album chart. Its EP, Jar of Flies, was released on
January 25, 1994. In 2004,
Linkin Park and Jay-Z's collaboration EP,
Collision Course, was the next to reach the number one spot after
Alice in Chains. In 2010, the cast of the television series Glee
became the first artist to have two EPs reach number one, with Glee:
The Music, The Power of Madonna on the week of May 8, 2010, and Glee:
The Music, Journey to Regionals on the week of June 26, 2010.
Warner Bros. Records
Warner Bros. Records revived the format with their "Six-Pak"
offering of six songs on a compact disc.
The first EPs were seven-inch vinyl records with more tracks than a
normal single (typically five to nine of them). Although they shared
size and speed with singles, they were a recognizably different format
than the seven-inch single. Although they could be named after a lead
track, they were generally given a different title. Examples
include The Beatles'
The Beatles' Hits EP from 1963, and The Troggs'
Troggs Tops EP from 1966, both of which collected previously released
tracks. The playing time was generally between 10 and 15
minutes. They also came in cardboard picture sleeves at a time when
singles were usually issued in paper company sleeves. EPs tended to be
album samplers or collections of singles. EPs of all original material
began to appear in the 1950s. Examples are Elvis Presley's "Love Me
Tender" from 1956 and "Just for You", "Peace in the Valley" and
"Jailhouse Rock" from 1957, and The Kinks'
Kinksize Session from 1964.
Twelve-inch EPs were similar, but generally had between three and five
tracks and a length of over 12 minutes. Like seven-inch EPs, these
were given titles. EP releases were also issued in cassette and
10-inch vinyl formats. With the advent of the compact disc (CD),
more music was often included on "single" releases, with four or five
tracks being common, and playing times of up to 25 minutes. These
extended-length singles became known as maxi singles and while
commensurate in length to an EP were distinguished by being designed
to feature a single song, with the remaining songs considered B-sides,
whereas an EP was designed not to feature a single song, instead
resembling a mini album.
EPs of original material regained popularity in the punk rock era,
when they were commonly used for the release of new material, e.g.
Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch EP. These featured four-track seven-inch
singles played at 331⁄3 rpm, the most common understanding
of the term EP.
Beginning in the 1980s, many so-called "singles" have been sold in
formats with more than two tracks. Because of this, the definition of
an EP is not determined only by the number of tracks or the playing
time; an EP is typically seen[by whom?] as four (or more) tracks of
equal importance, as opposed to a four-track single with an obvious
A-side and three B-sides.
In the United States, the Recording Industry Association of America,
the organization that declares releases "gold" or "platinum" based on
numbers of sales, defines an EP as containing three to five songs or
under 30 minutes. On the other hand, The Recording Academy's rules
for Grammy Awards state that any release with five or more different
songs and a running time of over 15 minutes is considered an album,
with no mention of EPs.
In the United Kingdom, any record with more than four distinct tracks
or with a playing time of more than 25 minutes is classified as an
album for sales-chart purposes. If priced as a single, they will not
qualify for the main album chart but can appear in the separate Budget
An intermediate format between EPs and full-length LPs is the mini-LP,
which was a common album format in the 1980s. These generally
contained 20–30 minutes of music.
In underground dance music, vinyl EPs have been a longstanding medium
for releasing new material, e.g.
Fourteenth Century Sky
Fourteenth Century Sky by The Dust
A double extended play is the name typically given to vinyl records or
compact discs released as a set of two discs, each of which would
normally qualify as an EP. The name is thus analogous to double album.
As vinyl records, the most common format for the double EP, they
consist of a pair of 7" discs recorded at 45 or 331⁄3rpm, or two
12" discs recorded at 45 rpm. The format is useful when an
album's-worth of material is being pressed by a small plant geared for
the production of singles rather than albums, and may have novelty
value which can be turned to advantage for publicity purposes. Double
EPs are rare, since the amount of material recordable on a double EP
could usually be more economically and sensibly recorded on a single
In the 1950s,
Capitol Records had released a number of double EPs by
its more popular artists, including Les Paul. The pair of double EPs
(EBF 1-577, sides 1 to 8!) were described on the original covers as
"parts... of a four part album". In 1960, Joe Meek's I Hear a New
World double EP was released in 1960 and has since become a
collector's item. Probably the most well-known double EP is The
Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, released as a double 7" EP in the
United Kingdom eleven days after the long-playing version, which
became the standard for compact disc reissue, was released in the
United States. The
Style Council album
The Cost of Loving
The Cost of Loving was
originally issued as two 12" EPs.
It is becoming less uncommon to release two 12" 45s rather than a
single 12" LP. Though there are 11 songs that total about 40 minutes,
enough for one LP, the songs are spread across two 12" 45 rpm
discs. Also, the vinyl pressing of
Hail to the Thief
Hail to the Thief by
this practice but is considered to be a full-length album. In 1982
Cabaret Voltaire released their studio album "2x45" on the UK-based
label Rough Trade, featuring extended tracks over four sides of two
12" 45 rpm discs, with graphics by artist Neville Brody. The band
subsequently released a further album in this format, 1985's "Drinking
Gasoline", on the
Virgin Records label.
There are a limited number of double EPs which serve other
purposes,[which?] however. An example of this is the Dunedin Double
EP, which contains tracks by four different bands. Using a double EP
in this instance allowed each band to have its tracks occupying a
different side. In addition, the groove on the physical record could
be wider and thus allow for a louder album.
Filben Maestro 78 rpm jukebox
In the 1960s and 1970s, record companies released EP versions of
long-play (LP) albums for use in jukeboxes. These were commonly known
as "compact 33s" or "little LPs". They played at 331⁄3 rpm,
were pressed on seven-inch vinyl and frequently had as many as six
songs. What made them EP-like was that some songs were omitted for
time purposes, and the tracks deemed the most popular were left on.
Unlike most EPs before them, and most seven-inch vinyl in general
(pre-1970s), these were issued in stereo.
List of number-one EPs (UK)
^ a b Austin, Chris; Blyth, Lucy (March 2015). "Rules for Chart
Eligibility – Singles" (PDF). Official Charts Company. Retrieved
March 21, 2017.
^ a b c Austin, Chris; Blyth, Lucy (March 2015). "Rules for Chart
Eligibility – Albums" (PDF). Official Charts Company. Retrieved
March 21, 2017.
^ a b Fuhr, Michael (2015). Globalization and Popular Music in South
Korea: Sounding Out K-Pop. Routledge. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
Mini-albums and EPs are shorter than full-length albums and usually
contain four or five songs [...] They are less expensive and
time-consuming in production than albums, and they help to popularize
new groups who otherwise lack the number of songs required for a
^ Maes, Jan; Vercammen, Marc (2001). Digital Audio Technology: A Guide
to CD, MiniDisc, SACD, DVD(A), MP3 and DAT (4th ed.). Focal Press.
p. 2. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
^ Baca, Ricardo (January 4, 2010). "As albums fade away, music
industry looks to shorter records". The Denver Post. Chattanooga Times
Free Press. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
^ "A brief description of the Japanese recording industry 2000" (PDF).
Recording Industry Association of Japan. Archived from the original
(PDF) on 27 July 2004.
^ レコード産業界の歴史 1960年～1969年 [The History of The
Record Industry 1960–1969] (in Japanese). Recording Industry
Association of Japan. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Strong, Martin C. (2002). The Great Rock
Discography (6th ed.). Canongate. ISBN 1-84195-312-1.
^ Shuker, Roy (2005). "Singles; EPs". Popular Music: The Key Concepts.
Routledge. p. 246. ISBN 0-415-34770-X. Retrieved June 20,
^ Salazar, Oskar (June 13, 1970). "
Philippines Gets First Mini-LP".
^ "7-in. LP Growing Concept". Billboard: 39. March 25, 1972.
^ Price, Deborah Evans (February 3, 2010). "Another Body Blow For
Albums: Warner To Launch New Six-Pak Format". Billboard. Retrieved
February 3, 2010.
^ About the Awards - RIAA
^ Awards Process Updates Grammy.Org
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