Album or LP (Long Play)
If you want to become a real artist, then the album will be your format of choice.
An album usually features about 8-13 tracks and about 40-60 minutes of play time. The number of tracks may be lower (even down to 5 or 6) if your album contains some very long tracks while the total play time is still higher than 30 minutes.
Today albums often contain more than 50 minutes of music, although this is only a good strategy if your songs are all really, really good.
When you produce an album, you’re dealing with it theatrically. It has to have a structure, and the inner response to that is that the ear loves it.
If you have more than 45 minutes of music, then it’s often a good idea to get rid of the weakest songs, even if you already recorded them. Getting rid of weaker songs can only strengthen your album as a whole, and your fans will be perfectly fine with 40-45 minutes of music if it’s really good.
Focus on QUALITY, not on quantity.
And no matter what kind of music you do, here’s the number one rule to follow:
Produce ALBUMS whenever possible.
Forget about EPs if you’re really serious about becoming successful with great music. It will take more time, more energy, and maybe even more money if you produce and album, but in the end the effort should pay out. If you offer some good tracks (including one or two songs with hit potential and maybe a decent slow if your genre allows for it), then people will likely prefer buying the album as a whole. This will not only mean more cash for you, but people will also have more to listen to, and you will more likely be seen as an artist to be remembered. Chances that people will buy future releases are higher when they’ve been impressed by your past work, while future fans may also buy your older albums.
Produce an album you will be really PROUD OF.
Play time should not be too long, but it also can’t be too short. Many amateur artists do albums with only 7 or fewer tracks and less than 35 mins playtime. I think this is a bad choice, as your album then won’t keep up with the standards, and you may even get into trouble with the pricing, as buying the songs separately may also be less expensive than buying the album as a whole then.
Of course you can then cut down the album price or even release it as an EP, but this will make your product look cheap. If you can’t come up with more than 7 or 8 tracks or more than 45 mins, then I’d suggest to invest some more time and energy until you have enough good material. On the other hand it’s not good to have too many songs on your record either (a lot more than 45 minutes of music), this problem will be discussed soon.
Your goal should be to produce an album with about 40-45 minutes of play time.
Only do more if your songs are really outstanding, or if your genre requires songs to be exceptionally long (think of certain progressive rock or heavy metal subgenres for example).