EP vs LP vs Album: A Definitive Guide

Learning how to distinguish between an EP, LP, and album requires us to dig deeper into the rich history of the musical industry. This will definitely get much more interesting as we profess in the article, but we’ll do you a favor and answer the question right away. Music enthusiasts are always asking this one question and the answer isn’t that simple. Let’s talk about it on EP vs LP vs album! 

As a curious searcher or fan, you might want the brief answer. Being in the world of tunes and notes means you have to have solid knowledge, because deciding on releasing an EP (basically a short album), or an LP or album (full length) directs impacts your marketing, budget, and obtaining maximum revenue.

Let’s get over the surface level things, move onto the nitty gritty of the topics and discuss how choosing the right format makes all the difference.

These terms, “EP” and “LP” originated from simple vinyl record formatted. Let’s know more through an in-depth EP vs LP vs album discussion.

You can also check: EP vs. Album: A Definitive Guide


Difference Between an EP, LP, and Album
Photo by: Vincent Chan

An EP is an extended version of vinyl records. Generally, an EP included additional music alongside the main single. With that said, an EP album still remains shorter than a full-length album. With only three to five tracks to its name, the EP gets the name “extended play,” which can often be confusing. In contrast to LP or long-playing albums that go beyond the borders of regular play, the EP album is closely related to “an extended single” album.

EP albums are typically records that aren’t LP records on the general 78 rpm. They have become extremely popular among punk and indie bands over the years, and even so more between artists of other genres.


Photo by: Daniel Grill

In music, an LP is a long-playing vinyl record. The term “LP” is often used to address a 33 1/3 rpm microgroove vinyl record. To this day, these records are produced and quite a common feature in records claiming “analog sound qualities”.

As time went by, LP music became one with full-length album music, spanning to the CD era. Music started becoming sold in digital formats, and LP music started being called by track numbers. In the majority of cases, an LP album consists of 10-12 tracks.


Photo by: Agnieszka Kowalczyk

Interestingly enough, in EP vs LP vs album, only the terms “LP” and “album” are interchangeable as they’re literally the same thing. The abbreviated form of LP is Long Play, and that is essentially, a full length album. According to Wikipedia’s definition, an album is basically a collection of audio recording produced as one item on record, CD, audio tape, or similar medium. And the very first development of recorded music’s album happened during the early 20th century. At first, it was published as a book of separate records, and from 1948, it became vinyl LP records.

Amongst all the musical formats, an album has got to be the most important one as critics and general audience use albums as a basis for judgment. People critically analyze how seamlessly the projects have been integrated. In every music genre, the album is a provided to the listeners as an experience, laying the foundation down for further scrutiny. From the production to the lyrical content, to the album sleeves and covers, the albums reigning superior tell a story – giving the listeners a clearer view into the artist’s headspace; at least, everything they wish to share with the public. We can also understand how much an artist has matured through these albums: by recognizing their priorities, their projection style, and the overall artistic influence in their lives, be it artistic or something else.

Sales are also a determining factor in LP success. The top albums get the top spots in weekly or monthly charts alongside getting the reputed Gold or Platinum certification. Some even will even achieve double or triple Platinum given their digital downloads, physical copy sales, and streams.

Requirements to be an EP in Music Distribution

Eps are rather popular today. They’re cheaper to produce and distribute, and the artists can include the songs they think will have the most impact. And on that note, we are moving away from EP vs LP vs album to talk about what it takes to qualify an album as an EP in online music distribution. Specifically, we mean huge platforms like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and many others.

For example, let’s discuss the two of the biggest online music platforms: Apple Music and Spotify. Now, you might ask why this matters? It’s because Apple Music automatically adds the label “EP” to any release that meets their conditions, even if that’s unwanted by the artist. Spotify places the release at the very bottom of the “Ep’s & Singles” section of “Albums.” So it’s crucial to be careful here or you might end up with very unsatisfactory results.

For Apple Music, if the music meets any one of the given requirements, it’s considered an EP:

  • There are 1 to 3 tracks in the release, and one or multiple tracks equal to or go over the 10 minutes margin, and the whole release is timed at less than 30 minutes.
  • There are 4 to 6 tracks in the release and it’s under 30 minutes.

On the other hand, the release will be categorized as EP in Spotify if both of the requirements are met:

  • There is a total of 4 to 6 tracks in the release
  • The release is under 30 minutes

The title of the album remains unchanged, but it is placed in the “EP’s & Singles” section under the “Albums” category.

Bottom Line

Regardless of whether you’re planning on getting into the music industry or are just another music enthusiast craving more knowledge about how these define music, you have to understand the separate concepts of EP vs LP vs album. Deciding on the music or composing it isn’t enough; you have to know how to produce it wisely and distribute.

Leave a Comment