Are EPs replacing albums? - Industry players argue pros and cons of both
Koffee’s EP Rapture winning in the Best Reggae Album category at the Grammys has sparked much debate amid all the celebrations.
People are questioning whether EPs are a more practical way of moving forward based on changing trends in music, and if full-length albums are still relevant today.
Producer Mikey Bennett (Grafton Studio), says putting out a full-length album may no longer be practical, as the way in which music is consumed has changed.
Plus, putting out an album can be an expensive venture.
“I’m surprised that so many albums are still being made, because an album is like a loss leader right now in business,” he said. “An album is a very expensive thing and what has been happening in recent years is that most of the albums are being put out by artistes themselves. Probably 15 or 20 years ago, there was a significant investment from producers outside of the particular artiste. But … sales are no longer a significant revenue earner.”
Bennett advises people that rather than doing an album, maybe they should just do three or four songs.
“If you have the extra money, use that money to kinda look about the promotion of it. So the EP now could be an answer,” he said. “When you hear what the albums are selling now – you look at the top Billboard chart, and the number one album hasn’t sold 5,000 copies – you say ‘wow’ and wonder really and truly why people doing it, apart from just having material for fans to download and for tours.”
Bennett noted that now consumers can simply buy songs from an album and make their own compilation.
“That is one of the benefits or downfalls of the digital world,” he said. “Albums today are really not to say ‘come buy me’, but they are saying ‘listen to this, and hope you like this, put it in your car, play it and become a fan, so when you hear my show advertised, you come’.”
However, producer and current chairman of Jamaica Music Society Danny Browne still believes in putting out full-length albums.
“For our marketplace, it (the EP) is a growing trend, but I believe that if you intend to remain in the industry, or get yourself positioned in the industry in a firm way, where you leave no doubt about your ability or your artistry, I think it’s important that we put out as many songs as we can,” he said.
From a financial perspective, however, he admitted that being a musician and a producer with his own studio, the costs may not affect him as much as another individual who has to book studio time and hire musicians.
Browne also suggested that the intentions for putting out music also play a big part in determining which route to take.
“You can fast-track yourself by putting out an EP, to get yourself into the marketplace … But at the end of the day, as an artiste, if I am creating music, because creatively this is what is coming out of me, if I want to put out 40 songs on one album, it’s up to me,” he said. “Now if I’m looking at it from a business perspective, I’m going to think the opposite … the least songs I can put out to get the most money.”
Another producer, Donovan Germain (Penthouse Records), agrees that people will make music for different reasons, but for him, it’s all about the love.
“I don’t make my music for no Grammys or anything like that. I love what I do, and I love when I make something and the general public accepts it and endorse it. Give me a gold or platinum record every time over a Grammy, because this shows that the public went out and embraced it. There was no politics involved, people went out and spend dem money and buy it,” Germain said.