The short answer is no but that isn’t why you are here. At some point, there was an actual difference between an EP, a Mixtape and an Album. However, with the dawn of streaming the differences are now obsolete as all forms of music are consumed in the same place. As a modern listener, I have noticed how my approach to listening changes with each type of release – which I think is a topic worth exploring. As much as I would love to say ‘music is music and it speaks for itself’, perception has always played a role in how we consume music.
This is the most common body of work that I come across and… one of my favourites if I’m being honest. In my many hours of listening, I have noticed 2 routes artists follow when creating an EP. The first is to create a short concise body of work to the point where it feels like one interconnected song split over several tracks. This route allows an artist to hone in on a particular type of sound or execution. The second route sees artists treat an EP as an experimental plane with a diverse offering of sounds. When an artist chooses to label an offering as an EP, I completely disregard any expectation of a coherent story or theme.
I consider mixtapes a dying offering just because of how few artists release them and it’s unfortunate. In more recent times, mixtapes have seen artists take on a ‘persona’ if you will. Una Rams’ hold me when it’s cold: a mixtape is a perfect example of bringing out a persona through a mixtape with him introducing Sam Sonic – his alter ego. I view mixtapes as a practice run for an album. A fully concerted effort in creating a body of work that has a theme and story arc.
As I said earlier in the article, the simple answer to this question is no. Despite all music being available in one place, I do feel that there is still merit in the ‘album’. When I come across an album, I approach it with all seriousness, critiquing every crux and cranny of its makeup. An album should honour every artistic aspect of being a recording artist which oftentimes requires a team, and a team cannot be led without its creative head having a clear vision.
Ultimately, if you are a new artist trying to cultivate your sound. Don’t drop an album. It will be a poster of what you are fully capable of so take your time, find your sound and when the time is right… drop an album.