Irish band The Script’s song Breakeven was their third single released in late 2008. It was one of those song’s that worked well on the radio, and I genuinely liked the production on the radio edit. Great lyrics (Eg. “What am I supposed to do when the best part of me was always you…”), unique and simple guitar riff balanced with a nice full band mix in the sound. I have been meaning to purchase the song, but every time I heard it in the car, it was never an opportune time to pull over and download. Nearly 18months after hearing the song for the first time I managed to hear the song as I arrived home, ran up and made the purchase. I was happy to find I got more than expected, and this made me think….
So I could have bought the single on it’s own for $2.19 (Aud), not that nice considering that most singles are just over half that amount. Snooping around a bit more and I find that there’s an EP that included the single AND 3 live tracks for the same price as the single! No brainer, the EP it was.
Return of the EP
Once upon a time, we bought our music on vinyl disks(Gen Y, take note), called records. Essentially there were three types, the single which was a smaller 10inch disc, an LP (Long Play), which was an album, and in the middle was EP, (Extended Play) both 12inches. Now the EP was a bit more than a single, the size of an album but not quite an album full of songs. Fast forward to today (Currently 2010), online music purchased at your computer or anywhere on your mobile device (trying to refrain from saying iPhone).
As a buyer of music, I just scored myself an EP at the price of a single song (A win for me). As the musician/publisher/producer of music, the other three tracks were live recordings, that didn’t take up as much production resource and time as a studio recording (A win for the musician/publisher/producer). As the distributor, the extra tracks didn’t cost more in shipping, inventory, any additional resource in storing the other 3 songs is minuscule (A win for the Music Distributor – like Steve Jobs needs more wins..).
Now, as a satisfied customer I’m more than happy to be on the lookout for more EP’s. It was great to get 3 extra songs, (Even though I didn’t like and deleted one of them). And I know that EP’s have been responsible for some real music gems. “Big Boss Groove” by the Style Council is an all time favorite song for me, and it was only released on the hit EP for “Your The Best Thing”
So What’s the Moral to the Story?
Producing an entire album is more than daunting. Writing one great song and recording it is much easier, and combining it with 3 or more live recordings (Especially when you are already solid performers in the live arena). For the Muso’s, spend some time out of that studio or bedroom and play more live music. Having more great live tracks in your catalog, will only encourage more people seeing the live gig for themselves. For the producer/engineers out there, get into live recording, take a break from quantizing, autotuning and sequencing… it will test your skills in a more unpredictable environment…
Listeners today are smarter listeners. They want more. Not just more music… but they want more from their artists, and knowing that they can ‘cut it live’ gives them more faith and loyalty in their artists.